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Historic Crash Site Memorialized As National Landmark

Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft
Arizona State University

The TWA-United Midair collision of 1956 happened 58 years ago Monday above the Grand Canyon. The crash between a Trans World Airlines Super Constellation aircraft and a United Airlines DC-7 killed 128 people and sparked the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Grand Canyon National Park’s Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski said the crash was one of a number of tragic accidents that lead to federal hearings, creating the FAA and initiating the use of radar and black boxes, technology not present in the two aircraft.

“It was a really big turning point in aviation safety; it really changed how planes, airlines and airspace were controlled,” Shedlowski said.

Two wreath laying ceremonies took place Monday in remembrance of the crash. Surviving family members of the victims laid white roses on the memorial.

In April, the crash site was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Government. The site will be dedicated next week.

“On July 8, the park will dedicate the TWA-United midair collision crash site as a new National Historic Landmark,” said Shedlowski. “There will be a ceremony at Desert View [Amphitheater], and that ceremony will then officially dedicate the memorial and again provide an opportunity for remembrance.”

Landmarks are designated by the Secretary of the Interior because of their value in illustrating the heritage of the United States.