[back] Plane crashes


by Sherman H. Skolnick 08/6/01

In November, 1972, Richard M. Nixon was re-elected President. One month later, on behalf of the Nixon White House, America's secret political police, the American Gestapo, the FBI, and the American CIA, arranged to sabotage a commercial airplane headed for Chicago. On board were twelve Watergate figures, including Dorothy Hunt, wife of the Watergate burglar, E.Howard Hunt. They had reportedly blackmailed two million dollars out of Nixon threatening, among other things, to publicize documents they had showing Tricky Dick, along with top officials of the FBI and the CIA, had planned and carried out the political assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

We received a mysterious phone call. "You should look into the crash near Midway Airport. They murdered Mrs. Hunt and the others." From various circumstances we determined that the call came from an official in Midway Airport Tower, Chicago. We started our own investigation. In 1973, I wrote a book, "The Secret History of Airplane Sabotage". So far as I could find out, there never was an authoritative book on the subject up to that time. And even now, I know of no other such book. A sizeable book publisher undertook to publish my work. The book, however, was stopped in the print cycle and no copies became available. The book was suppressed by the Rockefellers, at the time the major owners of UAL, Inc., the parent firm of United Air Lines, with the United Air Lines crash near Midway Airport being a major section of the book.

I am posting starting as Part One excerpts from the book. In some instances, it has been updated and slightly revised to show details uncovered after 1973.


1. THE PEOPLE. Upwards of twelve persons connected in one way or another with Watergate, boarded United Air Lines Flight 553 on the afternoon of December 8, 1972. They had something in common. That week there had been a gas pipeline lobbyists meeting as part of the American Bar Association meeting in Washngton, D.C. It was conducted by Roger Moreau. His secretary was Nancy Parker. Among those attending were Ralph Blodgett and James W. Krueger, both attorneys for the Northern Natural Gas Co., of Omaha, Nebraska. Associated with them were Lon Bayer, attorney for Kansas-Nebraska Natural Gas Co.; Wilbur Erickson, president, Federal Land Bank in Omaha. This was a belligerant group determined to blow the lid off the Watergate case. Reason Former U.S. Attorney General, John Mitchell, and his friends running the Justice Department were putting the spear into Northern Natural Gas. Some officials of that firm and its subsidiaries were indicted on federal criminal charges, September 7, 1972, in Omaha, Chicago, and Hammond, Indiana. Charge bribery of local officials in Northwest Indiana to let the gas pipeline go through. (Chicago Daily News, 9/8/72). To blackmail their way out of these charges, the Omaha firm had uncovered documents showing that Mitchell, while U.S. Attorney General in 1969, dropped anti-trust charges against a competitor of Northern Natural Gas---El Paso Gas Co. The dropping of the charges against El Paso was worth 300 million dollars. A spokesman for Mitchell belatedly claimed, in March, 1973, that Mitchell had "disqualified" himself in 1969, because Mitchell's law partner represented El Paso. The Justice Department under Mitchell, dropped the charges. Period. About the same time, Mitchell, through a law partner as nominee, got a stock interest in El Paso. Gas and oil interests, such as El Paso, Gulf Resources, and others contributed heavily to Nixon's spy fund, supervised by Mitchell.

[Earlier, I had spoken out about the apparent bribery of Mitchell as Attorney General by El Paso which caused him to proceed to prosecute on my charges, Chicago Federal Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Jr., for bribery. The highest level sitting federal judge sent to jail for bribery in U.S.history.]

Pipeline official Krueger was carrying the Mitchell-El Paso documents on the plane. He had told his wife that he had in his possession irreplaceable papers of a sensitive nature. For months after the crash, his widow demanded, to no avail, that United Air Lines turn over to her his briefcase. It later came out in the pipeline trial in Hammond, that Blodgett had been browbeating federal officials, to drop the criminal charges just prior to the crash. (Chicago Tribune, 5/18/73.) [Our investigation uncovered that most of the local officials, to be government witnesses against the pipeline, were murdered just prior to trial. In all, some five Northwest Indiana officials.]

Dorothy Hunt, Watergate pay-off woman, who offered executive clemency directly on behalf of Nixon to some of the Watergate defendants, was seeking to leave the U.S. with over 2 million Dollars in cash and negotiables that she had gotten from CREEP, Committee to Re-Elect the President. [She was so concerned about these valuables, she purchased a separate first class seat next to her on the plane for this luggage.] She and her husband, E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate conspirator, were a "C.I.A. couple", two agents "married" and living together. Early in December, 1972,both were threatening to blow the lid off the White House if (a) he wasn't freed of the criminal charges; (b) Nixon didn't pay heavy to suppress the documents they had showing he was implicated in the planning and carrying out, by the FBI and the CIA, of the political murder of President Kennedy; and (c) Dorothy and Howard Hunt didn't both get several million dollars. Some of these details are in the Memo of Watergate double-agent, James McCord, a CIA official in charge of the Agency's physical security; details before the Senator Ervin Committee. (N.Y. Times, 5/9/73.) Hunt claimed, according to McCord, to have the data necessary to impeach Nixon. McCord said matters were coming to a head early in December, 1972. Mrs. Hunt was unhappy with her job of going all over the country to bribe defendants and witnesses in the bugging case. She wanted out.

Mrs.Hunt was on the way to arrange to take her money out of the country, possibly Costa Rica, to link up with international swindler Robert Vesco who was there at the time; through Harold C. Carlstead, whose wife was Mrs. Hunt's cousin. Carlstead reportedly did accounting and tax work for mobster-owned businesses in the Chicago-area. He operated two Holiday Inn motels in Chicago's south suburbs---at 174th and Torrence, Lansing, Illinois and at 171st and Halsted, Harvey, Illinois. Carlstead's motel on Torrence was reportedly a favorite hang out for gangsters and dope traffickers such as apparently "Cool" Freddie Smith, Grover Barnes, and the late Chicago mobster Sam DeStefano (who aided the American CIA in bloody tricks and was snuffed out to silence him), to name a few. Mrs. Hunt had (a) Ten Thousand Dollars in untraceable cash; (b) Forty Thousand Dollars in so-called "Barker" bills, traceable to Watergate spy Bernard Barker; and (c) upwards of Two Million Dollars in American Express money orders, travelers checks, and postal money orders. (As shown by testimony before the National Transportation Safety Board, re-opened Watergate plane crash hearings, June 13-14, 1973. Hearings re-opened as a result of my lawsuit claiming sabotage covered up by the N.T.S.B.) Carlstead issued a fake "cover" story that had (only) Ten Thousand Dollars with Mrs. Hunt. A story swallowed up by the Establishment Press.

Mrs. Hunt got on Flight 553 with Michele Clark, CBS Network newswoman, going to do an exclusive story on Watergate. Mrs. Hunt, Mitchell, Nixon---the story could have destroyed Nixon at the time. Ms Clark had lots of insight into the bugging and cover-up through her boyfriend, a CIA operative. In the summer of 1972, prior to any major revelations of Watergate, Ms Clark tried to pick the brains of Chicago Congressman George Collins, regarding the bugging of the Democratic headquarters. Ms Clark was sitting with Cong. Collins on the plane. (Testimony 6/14/73, of Cong. Collins' public relations director.)

After the crash, Michele Clark's employer, CBS Network News, ordered and demanded that the body be cremated by the southside Chicago mortician handling the matter---possibly to cover up foul play. Later, the mortician was murdered in his business establishment, an unsolved crime. (We interviewed close confidants of her family who informed us of the details how CBS applied tremendous pressure and offered large sums for silence on the crash details and having her body cremated contrary to her family's wishes.)

Also on the plane were four or more people who knew about a labor union that had given a large "donation" to CREEP to head-off an criminal indictment of a Chicago labor union hoodlum(at the time of the book, 1973, actively investigated by us).

For many years, like clockwork, one Chicagoan went to Washington, D.C. on Monday and came back Friday afternoon on Flight 553 or its equivalent Lawrence T. O'Connor, Apt. 5-C, 999 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois. On Friday, December 8, 1972, he received a call from someone he knows in the White House, telling him not to take Flight 553 but to go instead to a special meeting.

My long-time friend, political activist Dick Gregory, informed me that there had been strenuous efforts to steer him that same afternoon onto United Air Lines Flight 553. Luckily, he had changed his mind.

Also getting on Flight 553 was a reputed "hit-man", pursuing Mrs. Hunt and others, and going under the "cover" of being a top Narcotics official with DALE (Drug Abuse Law Enforcement). He used the name Harold R. Metcalf. He is an unusual "narc"; he worked directly for Nixon. Metcalf told the pilot he was packing a gun, and so Metcalf was assigned seat B-17, near the stewardesses' jump seat and also near the food galley and the rear door of the plane. After the crash, he walked out of the cracked open fuselage of the pancaked plane wearing a jumpsuit. A former Military Intelligence investigator, who used his credentials to get into the crash site, identified the person posing as "Harold Metcalf" as an overseas CIA parachute spy. (Investigator's testimony at re-opened N.T.S.B. hearings, 6/14/73). Also see Metcalf's statement about being a "narc" and his gun on the plane. (N.T.S.B. Docket SA-435, Exhibit 6- B, p. 17, surviving passenger statements). Metcalf evidently supervised certain foul play, possibly cyanide, directed at certain passengers, but he didn't know of the over all sabotage plan. One of our staff investigators confronted Metcalf about a week after the crash.

(a) Metcalf, supposedly a government narcotics bigshot, knows nothings about dope. (b) in response to our question, "Did you know the plane was sabotaged?", he blurted out half a sentence, "It was not supposed to....", turning purple, he then left the room. Evidently, he was a double cut-out, an espionage term for an operative to be himself eliminated by someone else. His survival was an oversight. (N.T.S.B. testimony, 6/13-14/73).

More details from the suppressed book in further parts of this story.

Part Two

We called it the Watergate Plane Crash. As our private investigation continued, the National Transportation Safety Board, N.T.S.B., set public hearings for February, 1973. Conducted in a large meeting hall in one of the very large motels near O'Hare Airport, Chicago. They started with the witness list. After some of the witnesses testified, we were able to interview some of them in the hallway.

One witness was a former four-motor military bomber pilot with loads of aircraft and air-tower experience. Retired from the military, he worked for a firm that supplied materials for the paving of parking lots. By a strange coincidence (or on purpose?) someone at his firm told him to measure the parking lot starting at 2 p.m., Friday afternoon, December 8, 1972, which turned out to be right under the in-coming flight path of United Air Lines Flight 553. He observed some things which fit in with our probe that it was sabotage.

With his help and that of others including witnesses, we compiled a list of details showing that the NTSB panel were carefully evading from going into. I went home and began quickly putting together a lawsuit against the Safety Board for covering up airplane sabotage. We filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court and arranged with the County Sheriff to have one of his deputies accompany us as we together went to the NTSB hearings in session. I had prepared over a hundred copies of the lawsuit, all suitably stamped with the Clerk's Office markings just like the original filed copy. The deputy sheriff had a copy of the lawsuit together with a summons commanding the NTSB officials to appear in court.

As we arrived, the Safety Board panel was already proceeding with testimony. "How do you want me to do this" the deputy sheriff whispered to me. I instructed him, "Go right up to the stage on which the Safety Board panel of five is sitting. Do not wait for a recess. Serve the papers, as provided by law, on the woman in the middle, the Chairperson." That is what he did. As he approached her with the court papers, she asked him "What is this?" He politely answered, "It is for you, ma'm." The minute the Safety panel boss looked at the court papers, she was alarmed. She abruptly recessed the hearing. Most of those in the large meeting room spilled out into the hallway. There we handed out copies of the lawsuit to whosoever seemed interested. The Safety Board's general counsel came up to me, "I have to have a private talk with you away from this crowd, Mr. Skolnick."

We went down the hall to be alone. "How much do you want?" he barked at me. "If it is within reason, we'll take care of it today. It'll be cheaper than litigating this. You have to sign an agreement not to further divulge any of this."

I must have had an angry look on my face when I responded. "Hey, where did you get the idea that my charges of sabotage are a shake-down?" And I began hollaring, "Listen you mouthpiece, your job is to show up in court to answer our charges. I AM NOT FOR SALE. Go back to the panel and tell them. SKOLNICK IS NOT FOR SALE! You're not going to buy me like some crooked judge."

Thereafter another lawyer sat down and talked to me in the motel restaurant. "Mr. Skolnick, I represent the families of those who died in that crash. We have pending claims against United Air Lines. Your assertions of air sabotage tend to let United Air Lines off the hook. Please for the sake of these families, drop your lawsuit. You are undermining our multi-million dollar claims and that is not fair."

I responded, "Are you saying I should also be part of this cover up? Our motto is, 'Let the truth be told, though the Heavens crumble'. Do you realize that United Air Lines is part of covering up the sabotage of one of their own planes? One of Nixon's closest pals is the head of United Air Lines. The cover up included Mrs. E. Howard Hunt's documents showing Nixon was part of an FBI/CIA plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. You want me to shut up about all that? No way. I am sorry."

The lawyer took a narrow view as if he did not understand any of that. As if he were suddenly stupid. "I do not want to know anything about all that. I simply want to push our claims against United Air Lines. Can we somehow make it up to you?" He said. Miffed, I replied, "Hey, hey, don't start offering me a piece of your deal in return for my silence."

In Chicago my discussions about air sabotage and the Watergate Plane Crash caused some student groups to invite me to speak at their college or university. As a result, persons showed up at such meetings who later spoke to me privately.

"Here. Look at my credentials. I drive an ambulance for one of the hospitals. On the afternoon of the crash, I was sent to the crash zone. Hey, but get this. They did not allow me to approach the burning airplane. I was on a mission of mercy and these strange types stopped me. There were about 150 to 200 of them. They refused to show me their credentials." That is what one eyewitness told me. He continued, "Friends of mine in the fire and police departments told me also they were not allowed to approach the airplane. These apparent federal types were there on location ahead of both the fire and police."

After the crash, we made public statements that 200 FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency, DIA, operatives, refusing to show their credentials, had taken over the crash zone, coincident with the crash or even shortly BEFORE. We were called "liar". Then, on June 13, 1973, Chairman John Reed, of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the House Government Activities Subcommittee, that he sent a letter to the FBI, that (a) never in living memory had the FBI acted as in the Flight 553 crash. Reed said 50 FBI agents came into the crash zone shortly after the crash; (b) one FBI agent proceeded into Midway Control Tower and took over the tape relating to Flight 553, without asking permission; (c) before the N.T.S.B. investigation could do so, the FBI conducted 26 interviews, including of surviving flight attendants. The FBI interviews were completed within 20 hours of the crash.

For 6 months, they claimed we were "liars" when we said 200 FBI and DIA agents were in the crash site concident with the crash. Thereafter, the FBI admitted that 50 were there.

How is that possible? The Chicago Fire and Police Department people responded in a couple of minutes. The FBI and DIA headquarters is downtown Chicago. Even if they immediately after the crash took a helicopter, they could not have arrived, as they somehow did, AHEAD OF THE FIRE AND POLICE. We took up this angle with a member of Congress who quizzed the FBI about this. Back came a letter that the FBI had apparently been surveilling the plane and had jurisdiction because of what they termed federal statutes relating to "Air Piracy". This was in a letter signed by the Acting Director of FBI [this was about a year after Director J. Edgar Hoover had been poison murdered in his home, May, 1972, just as the Watergate matter was about to occur].

FBI having jurisdiction because of AIR PIRACY? Did someone on the plane, radio the FBI that someone else on that plane was either trying to steal Mrs. Hunt's two million dollars of "hush money", in negotiables, she and her husband got from the Nixon White House. Was someone trying to steal her baggage enroute to Chicago; containing documents proving Nixon was part of a FBI/CIA plot to assassinate President Kennedy? Mrs. Hunt, worried about her valuables, bought a separate first class seat right near her on which she piled her luggage. So AIR PIRACY was one way the FBI had of trying to explain away why upwards of 150 of their agents were already waiting in or near Midway Airport that afternoon, for the in-coming flight with the Watergate 12.

>From various sources we found out that the FBI and the DIA were under Nixon White House "national security" orders to arrest Mrs. Hunt and others on the plane for being part of a plot to blackmail Nixon. That is how and why the FBI/DIA was already there ahead of the local authorities.

A Chicago Fire Department official we interviewed told us, "Nobody explained to us how and why the FBI was able to keep us out of the crash site. The plane had pancaked on top of one or more residences and was smoldering."

In an interview, a supervisory official of the Chicago Police Department informed us, "I was told to assemble my men in Marquette Park which is several blocks away from where the plane crashed. We were forbidden by our brass from approaching the crash site. The higher ups said it was upon orders of the FBI and the DIA and the White House. Someone mumbled something to me about 'national security' ".

Saturday, the day after the crash, parts of the airplane fuselage were quickly buried in a city dump. An official of the city department told us, "The orders came from the top. Someone of authority did not want parts of flight 553 to be examined at all. We came with heavy equipment, a special select crew, pledged to silence, and buried deep parts of the plane in a city dump. I am in trouble if you ever use my name."

A few months after the crash, at a United Air Lines company meeting, one of their stewardesses got up and began loudly complaining the company bosses were covering up sabotage in the Flight 553 crash near Midway Airport. She was quickly hooted down. Security people shoved her out of the meeting. Later, she was fired.

So the air sabotage cover up pieces were one by one falling to place. On December 9, 1972, one day after the crash, Nixon White House aide Egil (Bud) Krogh, Jr., also involved in the Ellsberg burglary caper, was appointed Undersecretary of Transportation, supervising the National Transportation Safety Board and The Federal Aviation Administration, F.A.A., the two agencies supposedly going to "investigate" the crash of Flight 553.

On December 19, 1972, White House deputy assistant to Nixon, and secretary to the Cabinet, Alexander P. Butterfield, was appointed as the new head of the FAA. Butterfield, an air officer for 20 years, was also CIA aviation liaison. (See, for example, Jack Anderson's column, Chicago Daily News, 5/8/73.) During the Senate Watergate Committee hearings, summer of 1973, Butterfield as a witness suddenly blurted out that Nixon had everything occurring in or near the Oval Office taped. These tapes, which Nixon originally refused to disclose, became the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court decision against Nixon, as well as part of the Nixon impeachment matters resulting in his resignation, August, 1974.

Dwight L. Chapin, Nixon's appointment secretary, became, five weeks after the crash, a top executive of United Air Lines. Chapin reportedly had no prior business experience. At the original NTSB crash hearings in February, 1973, he reportedly threatened media people with reprisals if they mentioned sabotage; reprisals such as using Clay Whitehead, Nixon's communications czar, to seek the break-up of the networks on anti-trust charges. Remember- in the 1970s, the Rockefelles were the largest stockholder of UAL, Inc., parent of United Air Lines. Further, in the 1970s, the Rockfellers owned all three major news networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC. To an extent even now, the Rockefelles still have a heavy presence in the ownership of the major networks.

Even before the crash, Herbert W. Kalmbach, Nixon's personal attorney, was the lawyer for United Air Lines and Marriot Corp., which at the time had an airplane in-flight food catering service.

So, if I was right about Flight 553 and United Air Lines, at the time, largest air carrier in the U.S., they could have lost their certificate to fly. The Rockefellers orchestrated the media against our investigation. This was long before the era of internet, long before TV on the web through video streaming, long before more open-minded radio talk shows, and many years before public access Cable TV used by some like us to get around the press whores. [Our one hour weekly public access Cable TV Show, "Broadsides", cablecast within Chicago, reaches some 400,000 viewers each week, on a public access Cable TV system that is the largest in the U.S. Portions of our show, on video streaming, are on our website.] The latest technology and changes like that, for the moment, help the underdogs tell the awful truth. Such as about a forbidden subject, "The Secret History of Airplane Sabotage".

Part 3

The original hearings of the National Transportation Safety Board, N.T.S.B., into the crash of United Airlines Flight 553, near Midway Airpport, were in February, 1973. From that point to May of that year, I as the spokesperson of our investigation and research group, was numerous times on late-night radio talk shows, by phone hook-up. Several sizeable stations throughout the nation had me on the air. To use me as their punching bag, some moderators purposely put me on the air, so they could holler me down that I had no proof of airplane sabotage. It was a way of limiting what I could say between commercials, thus using up the time. It prevented me from going into too many details. I mentioned, or vainly tried to mention, the substance of our numerous interviews with witnesses, without divulging their names, to avoid risking our eyewitnesses.

Since I am an independent and not one of the media "favorites", they persistently heckled me, "Where are your documents?" In that period, I never publicly divulged that we had already "liberated" and had in our possession, a copy of the entire original file of the N.T.S.B. on Flight 553. It consisted of some 1300 pages of documents and reports and pictures. [Months later, the N.T.S.B. to try to down me, released a censored, sanitized version of their original file. We were in a position to show they were using fraud to cover up airplane sabotage, a forbidden subject. BUT, at that point, the monopoly press did not permit me to be further heard on radio talk-shows and such.]

In that period up to May, 1973, the American CIA, through their front, Katharine Graham, supposed head of the Washington Post, dispatched to Chicago the Post's super-duper expert on CIA matters, Ronald Kessler. We picked him up at O'Hare Airport and went with him to a reasonably nearby restaurant. After an interview of only a few minutes, Kessler said he wanted to be driven back to the airport. He said he wanted to be back in the District of Columbia. I asked him why he had come such a distance and yet only talked to me for a couple of minutes. He did not explain.

Kessler wrote a two-part series about me that ran on the front page of the Washington Post. It condemned me for having no details of the sabotage. Savvy folks, however, from all over North America, called me, stating, "Sherman, you must really have something for the Post to have you on the front page twice, heckling you for your investigations of the Watergate plane crash."

[For more about the Washington Post and Ronald Kessler, visit our website story, "The Late Grand Dragon of The Washington Post".]

In the 1970s, the major owner of UAL, Inc., parent of United Air Lines, were the Rockefellers and they also owned all three news networks (and to this day, still have a large ownership), of CBS, NBC, and ABC. The bosses of United Air Lines were getting increasingly disturbed by my public statements. So, in May, 1973, the general counsel of the air lines, sent a letter of demand to the N.T.S.B., contending that Sherman H. Skolnick had no proof whatever of sabotage. United Air Lines demanded that N.T.S.B. subpoena me to take my deposition. This would prove, they contended, that I was making unfounded statements. [The various wire services ran the letter of demand of United Air Lines.] After being served with the subpoena, I arranged with the Safety Board, and they agreed, that I was going to represent myself and supply and direct the testimony of others.

The Safety Board panel figured that the way to handle this was through the subpoena. They arranged for re-opened public hearings at the same large motel meeting room in Chicago, as in February, 1973. They set two full days for my deposition, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with very short recesses for lunch, for June 13 and 14,1973.

On the scheduled time and day, I rolled in with my wheelchair, with a large suitcase. Accompanying me were eight of my eyewitnesses. As the hearings began before the five-person N.T.S.B. panel, I informed them I have two preliminary matters to bring to their attention. First, I demanded that three of the Safety Board panel disqualify themselves because they and/or their immediate family are substantial stockholders in various air lines that have a joint interest that air sabotage remain a secret, forbidden subject. That they have an interest to hem me in to prevent the truth from coming out.

Without referring to federal statutes, administrative procedures, or reasons, to support her ruling, the Chairperson proclaimed, "Mr. Skolnick, your motion to disqualify, is denied." Then, with the assistance of my associates, I opened up the large suitcase and spread out on a good-sized table in front of myself and the Safety Board panel, the entire N.T.S.B. file we had "liberated".

I stated to the panel, "Secondly, I am telling you straight in front, that I have the possession of a copy of your entire original file on Flight 553. I admit responsibility of purloining your records. I challenge you to now arrest me for so doing. Arrest me right here, in front of this audience of mostly reporters from all over the world." The audience was estimated at 250 persons.

The woman chairperson, with as much shock on her face as when we had a deputy sheriff serve her a copy of my lawsuit against her in the midst of a Safety Board hearing in February, said only one word in a low voice, "Proceed".

The CBS Network as well as their local TV station, WBBM-TV, Channel 2 Chicago, was by close circuit videoing and observing the entire proceedings. It was primarily to immediately inform the Rockefellers and other bigshots, of what is being presented. The network did NOT use any of the video on the air. Their local TV station used only a meaningless, sanitized few seconds of the proceedings, revealing almost nothing.

I started out by stating, "I will show from your own records that all the air tower and airport instruments for guiding in Flight 553, which I call the Watergate plane, were turned off just as that plane approached. They were all turned back on, the moment after the plane was steered falsely into the ground short of the designated runway at Midway Airport. Contrary to established rules and procedures, Midway tower steered a small private plane to go right in front of Flight 553 as Flight 553 was on the path of in-coming, thus obstructing the commercial plane. The flight recorder in the tail of the plane was arranged to stop at a key point, censoring all that happened to Flight 553 as it was on the flight-path for landing. The electric buss bar of the plane was arranged to short out, burning out key instruments, and the plane was coming in dark, as shown by your own pictures, records, and reports and by a witness. The altimeter was sabotaged, so the pilot and co-pilot were at a lower altitude than they should have been, causing the plane to pancake on top of some residences, killing some onboard and some on the ground. Persons in Midway Control Tower as well as those in charge of the hand-off signals from O'Hare, caused false and erroneous signals to be relayed to Flight 553."

[During the hearings, I mentioned that the small private red plane, according to our investigations, which was falsely steered in front of Flight 553, had onboard known mafioso from Indiana and had let loose right in front of 553 a blizzard of thin metal chaff to screw up 553.]

With a series of enlarged charts, documents from the original N.T.S.B. file, and supporting eyewitness testimony, I step by step began to present the proof of air sabotage. [The specific technical details will be in a later part of this series.]

During a short lunch break, the national correspondent of the Hearst Publication chain stopped me in the hallway. "Mr. Skolnick, you don't have anything", he contemptuously proclaimed. Puzzled, I answered, "What? Were you watching everything I was presenting or were you asleep?"

Starting to shout at me, he blurted out, "Nowhere have you demonstrated that there was a bomb aboard that plane. No bomb. No proof. Period."

Trying to contain my own anger, I said "Where did you get the idea that the only way to sabotage a plane is to plant a bomb onboard?" He quickly retorted, "No bomb. No proof. No sabotage." I rapidly responded, "And that is what YOU are going to report for YOUR chain of publications?" He dismissed me, "That's right. You have mislead the public."

Toward the end of the day, during a short recess, the Chicago Tribune Transportation Editor, Tom Buck, arranged to photograph me sitting at the table with all the N.T.S.B.'s documents, reports, and pictures there spread out. Guess what? The Tribune later ran his story stating that Chicago legal researcher Sherman Skolnick (which is what they called me in those years) has shown no proof whatever to support his allegations that a United Air Lines plane crashed last December near Midway Airport because of sabotage. With the story, they ran a picture showing me only head and shoulders. The part of me sitting at the table with all the documents, reports, and pictures of the N.T.S.B. was cropped out. [The Rockefeller Family, at the times owners of United Air Lines, were also major owners of Tribune Company, parent firm of the Chicago Tribune.]

After a long day, later in the hearings, to sort of relieve the tension in the air, I told what I thought would be a little joke. I referred to United's general counsel, Mr. Streit, as Mr. Alley, as if I had made a Freudian slip. I quickly said I am sorry. Then I said, "I am here to categorically ADMIT that I have no proof whatever that Richard Nixon and the head of United Air Lines were on the plane with guns and shot dead Mrs. E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate bag-lady." Guess what? Donald Schwartz, covering the hearings for the Chicago Sun-Times, under his byline later ran a story with a big headline, "SKOLNICK ADMITS HE HAS NO PROOF WHATEVER". The story went on to state that Sherman Skolnick at a Safety Board hearing into the crash last December of a United Air Lines plane near Midway Airport, said he categorically admits he has no proof whatever of sabotage.

[At that time, the Chicago Sun-Times was owned by Field Enterprises, owned by a combination of the Marshall Field Family and the Rockefellers.]

After the publication of that fraudulent story, when I next saw Donald Schwartz, I did not restrain myself. "Look, I am going to take my metal crutch and twist it around your neck, you lying crook." He just smiled and walked away.

On the other hand, the wire service, Associated Press, to their credit, in a Chicago date-lined story stated that Chicago legal researcher Sherman Skolnick in a heavily-documented presentation of sabotage has appeared before a re-opened hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board inquiring into the crash last December of a United Air Lines plane near Midway Airport, Chicago. This story ran on AP's "A" wire, their national and international wire. Guess what? Only ONE newspaper in the United States ran this story. A newspaper in Seattle, Washington. All the other press outlets, print, radio, and television ignored the AP's straight forward, factually correct story. All the rest of the monopoly press went with a combination of the false stories of the Tribune and the Sun-Times and the Hearst Publications.

Several news outlets overseas, however, did use the Associated Press story. Following up on that was Swedish National Television, their major network. They sent a film crew to Chicago and arranged to meet me in the crash site, right where several residences were destroyed by the pancaking Flight 553 coming down. They interviewed me again at a later date. It was made into a 90-minute documentary with me talking in English, and below my picture, Swedish subtitles. I became a volunteer, unpaid consultant to the project which was quite a sensation in parts of Europe.

In later years, a highly-skilled journalist, Tom Valentine, started and ran a magazine exposing the real stuff, called REEL-NEWS. It was successfully distributed, some 150 thousand copies each issue, at places like airports. Then they printed an issue with the usual press-run, about the story of the sabotage of Flight 553 with references to the specific technical details. By a strange combination of events, the magazine was blocked in the printer's warehouse and was not distributed. It became the death warrant of the magazine which then went under.

[Please note, a very skilled writer with a long background in aviation, Rodney Stich, has written and privately published a book, "The Unfriendly Skies" which details the incompetence and blundering of the airlines. He also has books of his documented work in exposing high level fraud in the government.]

Part 4

Several situations motivated the National Transportation Safety Board, N.T.S.B., to re-open their hearings into the crash of United Air Lines Flight 553. And to set two full days, June 13 and 14, 1973, for what we publicly called the crash of the Watergate Plane. My pending lawsuit in the local state court against the N.T.S.B., claiming air sabotage cover up, was arbitrarily removed to the federal court in Chicago.

The Rockefeller-owned United Air Lines knew that the Banker-Judges in Chicago U.S. District Court would not allow my lawsuit to be heard on the facts. A judicial cover-up. It was a reality understood by the Safety Board panel, made up primarily of those directly or through their immediate families, major owners of airline shares. And the unwritten policy of the airlines, and their substantial owners, is to block all public discussion of airplane sabotage, a secret and forbidden subject.

Another factor was the way I was informing the public, as best I could, through late-night radio talk shows and college and university speeches on the Watergate plane crash. And further, United Air Lines and the Safety Board had no prior knowledge that we had "liberated" the entire Safety Board original file of Flight 553.

I proceeded with my own testimony as to our investigation, with the Safety Board documents and pictures, together with our interviews including the presence at the re-opened hearings of eight eyewitnesses.

As stated earlier, #1 was THE PEOPLE. #2, THE AIRPLANE. To do a proper job in sabotaging a plane, an art and science in itself, is to know its weaknesses. This particular Boeing 737, N9031U, had chronic trouble in the month preceding the crash, with its Captain's altimeter and its air data computer---two of the most important instruments on the plane. [N.T.S.B. Docket SA-435, Exhibits 11A, 11B, 11C, maintenance data.] The Captain's altimeter {how far he is above ground level] MUST operate at 28 volts D.C. [Exhibit 9C, page 7.] An increase in amperage or voltage in the electrical system would cause the instruments to malfunction.

The plane was delayed in departure by about 10 to 15 minutes. [Later investigations and sources convinced us the tubes in the front of the plane, leading to the air speed indicator, were drilled out, to give false readings.] This was enough time for a skilled person to strip down the bus bar at a certain point and install a device [as was done] that shorts out UPON DESCENT of the plane [a sort of barometric controlled sabotage device]. In the last 15 minutes of Flight 553, circuit breakers began popping in the cockpit, causing the Flight Recorder, in the tail, the air data computer, and other instruments to short out and malfunction. The N.T.S.B. Transcripts of the sole surviving record, the tape of the Cockpit Voice Recorder, shows this from the Intra-Cockpit, inside the cockpit, discussion. [Exhibit 12A.]

The pilot had a prophetic name, Captain Whitehouse. By the way, he was one of the most skilled pilots at United, with a prior background in aviation air shows and precision flying.

Captain- "Sounds to me a circuit breaker, perhaps." 2nd Officer- "Huh?" [Unidentified voice, apparently unlawfully deleted by the FBI/DIA.] Capt.-"Yeah, I just meant, I thought you'd better check EVERYTHING, ah." (Emphasis added.) [N.T.S.B., Exhibit 12A, page 7 of Transcript.] The Cockpit Voice Recorder was found and removed by the FBI, first on the scene in the crash zone. Remember what the Chairman of the Safety Board told a Congressional Committee in Washington on the same day as the re-opening of the Safety Board hearings in Chicago---about the strange doings of the FBI in the crash zone. [See Part Two of this series.]

Flight 553 needed its instruments. Visibility was 1 to 2 miles. Ceiling varied from 400 to 600 feet. [Exhibit 5-K.] With some low clouds as low as 100 feet. As for the National Weather Service, their RUNWAY VISUAL RANGE RECORDER WAS TURNED OFF AND NOT WORKING. [Exhibit 5-K.]

A major radio navigational instrument is the airport outer marker, also called by the street name its on. The outer marker at Midway Airport is in the vicinity of 87th & Kedzie, and is called by some, the Kedzie localizer. THE MIDWAY AIRPORT OUTER MARKER STOPPED WORKING JUST AS FLIGHT 553 APPROACHED IT AND WENT BACK ON JUST AFTER FLIGHT 553 CRASHED.

Captain-"Is Kedzie localizer off, off the air, is that it?" 2nd Officer-"I beg your pardon." Captain-"Is Kedzie localizer off the air, there's an inbound on---ah---there's an inbound on 31---what's that? (referring to JET RUNWAY 31 LEFT, and a small propeller plane reportedly falsely steered right in front of 553 as it was preparing to land. The small plane was coming in right ahead of them on the same runway. Propeller planes are supposed to land on RUNWAY 31 RIGHT.) [N.T.S.B. Exhibit 12A, page 3.]

Captain's altimeter would NOT work below 3400 feet. [Exhibit 9C, page 8.] A retired aviation expert, with experience as a 4-motor bomber pilot and loads of control tower experience, as earlier stated, mysteriously was directed by his firm to be outside measuring a parking lot just at the same time Flight 553 was in-coming. That was William J. Simonini. At the re-opened hearings, he testified that he saw Flight 553 at about 450 feet near 73rd and Kedzie, TO THE FAR RIGHT OF THE OUTER MARKER. At the original Safety Board hearings in February, 1973, the Safety Board tried to conceal this data by improper questions of THEIR witness, Simonini. He later became OUR witness. [N.T.S.B. re-opened hearings, Simonini testimony, 6/13/73.] At the outer marker, Flight 553 was supposed to be at about 889 feet above the ground. [Exhibit 2J, Chart 11-2.]

SOME OF THE INTENTIONAL BLUNDERS ON THE GROUND. (a) In the last 15 minutes of Flight 553, its speed was erratic. [Exhibit 3-F.][Remember, we later found out about the sabotage of the tubes to the air speed indicator on Flight 553.] It was being watched by some of the most highly sophisticated radar equipment and computer in the world, at that time, ARTS III. Yet, although they claim they told him to slow down, after 21 sweeps of the radar he was still going 210 knots per hour. It was being watched by Chicago Approach Control, O'Hare Airport. (15 radar sweeps per minute.) (b) The approach controller later admitted he had forgotten to give 553 approach clearance. [Exhibit 3A, page 9.] The Flight 553 crew were led to believe they were in a holding pattern. [Exhibit 12A, page 9.]

(c) The Midway Tower steered a small propeller plane, Aero Commander N309VS, right in front of 553 as 553 was coming in for a landing. [Through later investigations, we uncovered a mystery. The pilot of that small propeller plane was a skilled pilot of a 4-motor plane. It was the same as finding out the Captain of the huge ship the "Queen Mary" was somehow now in charge of a two-man rowboat.] This doing by the Tower caused 553 to drastically close the gap between them and the small plane. That small plane, to screw up 553, dropped a blizzard of thin metal chaff right in front of 553.]

(d) They stopped watching 553 from O'Hare TOO SOON (called a premature hand-off). At the time, Midway did not have precision radar. [Exhibit 3C, page 13.] This violated O'Hare-Midway Letter of Agreement. [Exhibit 3G, page 3, paragraph 4.]

(e) They did not tell 553 that their plane was too far right of the Midway outer marker, a dangerous situation.

(f) In violation of regulations, they were working two planes for the SAME runway at the same time, Flight 553 and the Aero Commander.

(g) Although there was only about a 6 mile an hour wind, they told 553 to go to JET RUNWAY 31 LEFT, HAVING NO GLIDESLOPE, an important navigational aid giving altitude and azimuth. [Intra-Cockpit Voice discussion, Exhibit 12A, page 13.] Runway 13R, the other end, has glideslope.

(h) Within a few seconds, Midway told a different thing to O'Hare than it did to Flight 553. [Exhibit 12A, page 13,compared to Transcriptions of Chicago Approach Control, Exhibit 3C, page 14.]

OTHER INTENTIONAL BLUNDERS AND SABOTAGE. The Air Traffic Controllers paid no attention to the fact that 553 had too much velocity and was on too fast of a descent, and was far off-course. With circuit breakers clicking [from the barometrically-triggered sabotage devices], and instruments malfunctioning, the cockpit crew of 553 tried to switch to standby power. [As shown by comparing Intra-Cockpit discussion, Exhibit 12A, pages 10-11, with B-737 Flight Manual language, Exhibit 2F, page 4E.] ELEVEN WITNESSES ON THE GROUND SAID FLIGHT 553 HAD NO LIGHTS. [Exhibit 4B, statements of witnesses.] Also, eyewitness testimony of Simonini.

In the first five minutes and last five minutes of flight, the pilot is supposed to be flying the plane. BUT, in the last few minutes before the crash, the co-pilot (1st Officer) and the 2nd Officer were flying. This supports our contention that the pilot was dead or disabled, such as from cyanide poisoning. [See later discussion as to high-level of CYANIDE, such as in bodies of some of the Watergate 12. We also interviewed the former head of a laboratory that made devices for the CIA, to go off in the cockpit of planes, and causing cyanide to disable those in the cockpit. He said that although he thought he was supplying these devices to be used against Eastern Bloc "Enemy" civilian airplanes, he heard that some of his devices were used domestically, in the U.S.] Also, to be compared as to pilot at beginning and end of flight, there is a comparison between the Intra-Cockpit Discussion [Exhibit 12A, pages 13-15] with the Flight Manual challenge-respond language [Exhibit 2F, page 41.]

Eyewitness William J. Simonini, a retired aviation expert, said how the FBI was tormenting him ever since they found out he saw the Watergate plane shortly before it crashed. He said the FBI was tormenting him in various ways, day and night. AND, that they arranged to frame-up and jail two of his sons to cause him further anguish.

As a result of the Watergate Affair, Nixon White House aide Chuck Colson was sent to prison. After getting out, he said he is a new person and devoted to promoting good deeds. He spoke at a meeting in Chicago. Afterwards, I interviewed him.

Skolnick-"What happened to Mrs. E. Howard Hunt, wife of the Watergate burglar?"

Colson-"She was murdered by the FBI and the CIA."

Skolnick-"Can you tell us more? Having been in the Nixon White House you seem to know a lot."

Colson "I have already said too much."

Did some of the Watergate 12 actually survive the pancaked plane but were murdered on the ground? And what happened to Mrs. Hunt's luggage for which she bought another first class seat ticket? The crash of Flight 553 and what happened on the ground were clearly overkill directed against the Watergate figures among the onboard passengers.

Correction Earlier in this series,on some websites, through a typo, Channel 2 TV was incorrectly identified. It is WBBM-TV, Chicago.