Valley City Times-Record



Miracle Passenger

March 2, 2023 — On this date in 1951, a horrible accident struck when a Mid-Continent Airlines flight en route to Minneapoli­s from Kansas City crashed at Sioux City, killing fifteen people.

Witnesses to the crash said visibility had been fair, but a sudden snow squall blotted out the airplane as it came in for a landing. Instead of finding the runway, it came down in a cornfield. Witnesses could only hear the crash through the storm-the first fatal crash in the airline’s 17-year history, and the first ever airliner crash in Iowa.

A Bismarck man was among the ten survivors. His name was Budd Quam, district manager of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. He was traveling home after attending a sales meeting in Omaha.

The plane had already aborted one landing, and as Quam later told reporters, the pilot circled the field and began another turn, but the plane banked steeply, and the nose tipped toward the ground.

Quam said, “I could see the ground approachin­g; it couldn’t have taken more than a couple of seconds.” The next thing he knew, he was wandering a hundred feet from the crash. He was later surprised to learn of the death toll, especially since his injuries had been minor.

It was a bad stretch for the airline, as another plane had crashed earlier in the week, but all the passengers had safely evacuated before the plane became engulfed with flames. One woman was aboard both flights. She perished in the second crash. Also among the dead were four army privates, the pilot and the copilot.

It was a setback for air travel, and a time of shock and mourning. Who knows why some live and some die? But on this date, Budd Quam of Bismarck survived.

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnershi­p with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from Humanities North Dakota. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepub­, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairi­

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