POMONA, CA (GlossyNews) — Captain Clarence Oveur, an aviation legend, has died of a heart attack. He was 83.
Oveur was one of the heroes responsible for the successful landing of distressed Trans American flight 209 to Chicago in 1980. Flight 209, as many remember, was plagued by a series of uncanny disasters. I located an article at the search engine for pilots and aircraft owners which compiles several sources of information on the incident, which I will sum up here for our readers. The most critical concern for the crew was transporting a very sick child to Chicago in time to make her connecting flight to Minneapolis. The girl, Lisa Davis, was in need of a heart transplant. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic had located a donor, but Davis would need to be on the operating table within six hours. To complicate matters further, inclement weather had impacted many of the available routes. A stalled storm front near the Dakotas, backed all the way to Utah, forced Oveur and his pilots to plot a course over Denver. However, after encountering unusually heavy turbulence above Colorado, Trans American 209 had no choice but to climb to a higher altitude, compromising precious time.
The situation worsened when a breakout of salmonella was discovered, which eventually poisoned Oveur, his co-pilot and the navigator. Fortunately, a physician was traveling aboard the plane. Dr. Alan Rumack attended to ill crew members and passengers throughout the emergency. His description of the symptoms that incapacitated Oveur would prove instrumental a few years later in helping the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) understand the “Norwalk Virus” that wreaked havoc on cruise ships.
According to Rumack’s 1982 testimony before the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), the outbreak “started with a slight fever and dryness of the throat. When the virus penetrated the red blood cells, the victim became dizzy and began to experience an itchy rash. Then the poison went to work on the central nervous system. Severe muscle spasms were followed by the inevitable grueling. At that point, the entire digestive system collapsed, accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence, until finally the poor bastard was reduced to a quivering, wasted piece of jelly.”
But Oveur remained conscious long enough to help a flight attendant, Elaine Dickinson, activate the automatic pilot. He then directed her to attempt to locate a passenger with previous aviation experience. Dickinson’s former fiance Ted Striker, a veteran fighter pilot, was traveling to Chicago from Los Angeles on the same flight. Striker ultimately landed the plane with guidance from air traffic controllers. Through these actions, Captain Oveur directly influenced a positive outcome to an otherwise insurmountable disaster. There was no loss of life or serious injury to anyone aboard the plane.
Clarence Oveur will be remembered as a brave and serious man. He enjoyed spending his free time hanging around gymnasiums, watching gladiator films and studying the Turkish penal system. He is survived by his wife and their prized stallion.
The family requested a private funeral, and members of the press were not allowed to attend. GlossyNews reporters asked one employee at the cemetery to describe the funeral. His said, “A funeral? It’s a sad occasion to honor the dead, where family members put their deceased loved one in a wooden box and then bury him in the ground. But that’s not important right now.”