Tuesday, February 9, 2010

60 YEARS AGO: Dow Chemical CEO, and Four Others, Perish in Fanshawe, Ontario - CONCLUSION



And now for the stunning conclusion!

SOME FOLK might've thought there is nothing left to be said after parts (1) and (2).

And they'd be wrong.

Dr. Willard Dow died here, in this crash, in London, Ontario. 1949.

To begin to understand the significance, in modern terms, of the personage who died in the crash and the impact on that sector of business, Dr. Dow was immersed in, we may have to transpose businesses.

So we eliminate industrial chemical… AND substitute silicon valley. Software development.

WHAT IF an airplane crashed at your community airport?

The locals would come along and have a look. The police would soon guard the crash, and the general public would be forced farther off, away from the crash site, which might affect traffic routes, etc. and the community would be abuzz with the event.

But what if it was soon discovered that Microsoft's Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda, had just died in that crash?

Let the calamity begin! In silicon valley and the stock market.

It would be the SUDDEN and unexpected end of an era.

A captain of industry would be gone.

AND the hard-fought, hard-won empire of Microsoft could actually topple in light of such an occurrence.

So Bill Gates is dead. Now what?

Hope, you're getting my drift.

To the Dow Chemical executive only a few hundred miles southwest of the border in Midland, Michigan, the shock of losing Dr. Willard Dow, the company's living icon, was immense.

Dow sent everyone north so see what the hell had happened.

Dr. Willard Dow wasn't just some high school chemistry kid tinkering with his chemistry kit he had once got as a Christmas gift! This was the man! The man who had helped the Allies win World War II with his ever most timely, and incredible… chemical discoveries!

In the world of biz, this guy was huge. Willard Dow's greatness was chronicled in Part 1, so we needn't refer to the details again here, but we do need to remind the readership of the man's stature in that far-away world of 1949.

AND IN THIS one instance, the man, his greatness, his problem-solving acumen ACTUALLY lead directly to his demise!

Dr. Willard Dow had been invited by none other than the legendary Winston Churchill, to attend the former Prime Minister of Great Britain's MIT speech in Boston. And Willard, was not going to take a pass on so grand an overture by Winnie, himself.

Not on his life!

So Willard, quite accustomed to finding solutions to emerging problems, went with the Dow Chemical's second flight crew on call, that day. Willard simply bypassed the first-up flight crew of the company Beech 18 when they refused to fly… That refusal being based on the severe weather conditions prevalent in the region at the time!

And that would be his biggest, and final, mistake!

Sure the Dow Chemical Beech 18 captain, A J Bowie, waited 'till nearly all of the bad weather cleared at his end. Trouble is the Dow Chemical aircraft's route to Boston ensured that the corporate aircraft would be FOLLOWING the storm, and soon thereafter take-off ENTERING INTO the storm!

Do the math folks.

Storm traveling east. Aircraft travelling east.

Storm travelling at 45 mph. Airplane travelling at 190 - 240 mph.

No wonder they ran into trouble so quickly after take-off, being that London, Ontario… was less than 200 miles away.

But it wouldn't have been so bad, had all six people on board the twin-engine Beech died that day.

But they didn't.

There would be one survivor.

Calvin Campbell, Dow Chemical's Vice President and general counsel, would play over, and over again, the vision of that tragic day, in his head… for the rest of his life.

That terrible, horrible, moment during the crash landing sequence when the faltering Beech 18, now on fire, finally came to a complete stop. And try as they might, with all their might… his dear, precious, precious love, his wife Alta, of so many years… couldn't unfasten her seatbelt…

It just wouldn't unclasp!!!

The end was cruel, and quick.

It couldn't have been any more than a minute after the aircraft came to a stop before Alta was entirely engulfed in flames. All this, as Calvin looked on, helpless, actually… beyond helpless, as he was finally pushed back, for further rescue attempts, by the bewildering heat and wall of flame!

Make a note of this. I have a pocketknife attached to every one of my set of keys… and so should you. Survival 101.

You never know.

Such a simple tool would have saved her life on that ill-fated morning.

Sadly, these would be her final moments.

Never the same after, Calvin would make the rest of his life's journey, alone.

Interestingly, Calvin Campbell's former Midland, Michigan home is on the National Register of Historic Homes of the United States of America. Located at 1210 W Park Dr. the house comes with its official historic plaque identifying it as such. It was actually designed by Alden Dow, Willard's architect brother!

Alden was a fraternity brother of Calvin's at the University of Michigan. It's a beautiful design, simple but lavish, 5100 square foot home sitting on almost an acre of property.

Calvin and Alta, who had a quiet and tender lover for each-other, asked Alden to design the home for them in 1939.

They would have ten gloriously happy years in that house, before tragedy struck.

AND unexpectedly…right NOW, it's for sale!

All, at the give-away price of $350,000 USD!!

In Canada, this home would be a million and a third, easily!

Check it out: www.nopatternrequired.com/?p=3152

Peruse the pics of Calvin and Alta's home, with the reverence they deserve. We all lay our plans, but…

Actually, your admiration will come quite naturally, as you review this early, modern-style home.

Both the Dows and Campbells were popular folk within the company, and throughout the community. Thousands of people, near and far, attended their funerals. The City of MIdland declared an entire month of mourning for the city, by unanimous decree, a day after the crash.

On April Fools Day, in 1949, the Bay City Times writer James Smith, stated that cause of the crash would likely never be established.

Well, that isn't true. I've told the readership what happened, already . Think of the RCAF Beech 18 that turned back from landing in London, and went back instead to RCAF Station: Centralia.

Think about the first Dow Chemical flight crew that refused to fly, and a CEO that overrode that captain's correct decision.

And finally, remember the severe weather that caused the ice-encrusted airplane to make a desperate bid to land in London, Ontario… a thousand miles away from its original destination of Boston, Mass.

Perhaps the recounting of this tragic tale should end here.

But every tale must be told in its's entirety.

And what I am about to end with, is just spooky.

Yes, spooky.

Did (and I put this forward gingerly), Dr. Willard Dow, somehow, foresee his own death?? Did he try to beat fate?

We'll never know for sure, but I'm guessing he might have.

But how do I know that?

Because Dow, had been working on an secret aircraft engine of his own design!

A fire-proof one!

Dr. William J Hale, also a world-famous chemist, and Willard's brother-in-law revealed at the time of the crash, both he and Willard, had been working together on a fire-proof engine! Hale explained to the media on the day of Dow's death, that Willard had been "secretly haunted" FOR YEARS… by the vision of death in a burning airplane!!

That's right… haunted—

Their collaborated engine design would use agricultural alcohol as its fuel, which, under normal care is virtually non-flammable. The Dow-Hale engine would produce steam to turn its' turbines, and thus remain cool during operation. Their preliminary work on the engine design had already proven its feasibility and only the previous week, Dow and Hale, had planned to resume work on the engine.

Never happened.

Hale would abandon the project, after Dow's death.

And to my knowledge, it was never made public, as to whether or not, the very expensive jewelry the Dow wives had brought aboard, on that most ill-fated aircraft flight of March 1949… if that jewelry… was ever found.


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