What happened in this tragic accident, that took place so long ago?

First, this accident happened very close to where I live. In fact, it's still the worst aviation accident in Indiana history. Since I'm very interested in anything having to do with my home state, and since I love to fly (as passenger and pilot), of course this accident became something for me to want very much to look into.

Second, this is an extremely unusual accident, in that a collision between a very small single-engine Piper and a much larger DC-9 resulted in the loss of both aircraft and everyone aboard them. There are just not many of this kind of accident (most notably, that of PSA182 in September 1978), where this bad a situation occurs from the collision of such mismatched aircraft.

Third, people do still care - or at least, they should. Nowadays, when planes crash and people die, there are internet-based support groups, huge litigation possibilities, and seemingly endless streams of social and psychological help available for the victims' families. This is as it should be, but was not the case back in 1969, even though the loss of loved ones did not hurt those families any less. All victims of tragedies, from every location and time, deserve to be remembered; it is very narrow-minded and selfish of us to think that because terrible things happen(ed) to people who speak a different language than us, or who live(d) in a different decade than we do, that their feelings are somehow rendered less consequential by those superficial anthropological or temporal differences.

Finally, this accident was found by the NTSB to be "no fault". As pilots, we are trained to fully understand that there is no way a mid-air should ever be no-fault; the fact that it happened in the first place is a priori evidence that due diligence in "see-and-avoid" was not being practiced. This fact alone should be enough to cause any pilot to take an interest in the facts of the case.

I have done a lot of research into this crash, but there is still much more to do. While my primary goal is to provide a memorial page to those who were killed, the technical aspects of this tragedy will also continue to remain of interest to aviators. Steps have been taken to ensure that accidents of this type never happen again, but those steps were not in place on September 9, 1969.