Theatre Newsreel Footage of 1947 Crash of Eastern Airlines Flight Outside Port Deposit

Scene from newsreel of Eastern Airlines Flight 605 Crash in 1947.  Source:  British Pathe

Scene from newsreel of Eastern Airlines Flight 605 Crash in 1947. Source: British Pathe

Cecil County has had more than its share of tragic commercial airline accidents and periodically these tragedies get attention as memorials are dedicated or a remembrance program is held.  The crashes are well documented in newspaper clippings, letters, official reports, and photographs in the collections of the Historical Society of Cecil County.

Now additional sources are becoming available as old movie footage is digitized and streamed online. That is the case with Eastern Airlines Flight 605, which suddenly plunged from the sky on a gorgeous Memorial Day in 1947. The doomed, out-of-control craft streaked earthward and when it struck the ground, observers said there was a puff of white smoke, a flash of orange, and a billowing cloud of smoke. All 53 people on board died from the impact and explosion. Mrs. Jeanette Nesbit Hillyer arranged for a monument to be erected at the site in 2011, assuring that the fading memory of the terrible event would not be forgotten in Cecil County.

In a clip described as the “aftermath of two air crashes in United States of America” British Pathe, a provider of newsreels for theatres, filmed the accident scene outside of Port Deposit in some silent footage. Just before the local incident, another DC-4 crashed at La Guardia airfield in New York, and that coverage opens the segment.  The Cecil County film starts at about 53 seconds into the piece.

While the Society and some private collectors have a number of still photos of the accident, this is the first time we have seen any movie film from an incident that took place in a thick woods outside of Port Deposit nearly 70 years ago.

In a drive to make its archives more accessible to viewers, British Pathe recently released its digital archives of 85,000 films, making them available for free online streaming. These historic newsreel films contain vintage news and features reports. In this virtual collection you will find footage of major events around the world and regional news.


Theatre newsreel footage covering crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 605 outside of Port Deposit in 1947. Source: British Pathe.



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