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Vintage KSDK: The day an Ozark Airlines plane crashed short of Lambert Airport

Ozark Airlines Flight 809 went down two miles short of the runway very near the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Of the 44 people on the plane, only six survived.

ST. LOUIS — Let's go back to July 23, 1973, the afternoon 38 people were killed in a plane crash near St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Video shows the wreckage of Ozark Airlines Flight 809, which went down two miles short of the runway in a wooded area in Normandy, very near the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The flight originated in Nashville and made four stops in other cities.

Thunderstorms were in the area at the time as it approached St. Louis. The flight disappeared from radar around 5:45 p.m.

Of the 44 people on the plane, only six survived.

This is what an eyewitness told our reporter on the scene.

"There were flames shooting up in the air 15 to 20 feet high and when I got up there, there was one man lying partially on his side,” recalled the rescuer. “He was the first one I got out.”

“Was he alive?” asked our reporter.

“Yes, he was alive," the man replied.

Also, pulled from the wreckage, was a dog in the cargo hold.

Along with rescuers, looters arrived on the scene.

“We've had many reports from the police department the evening that this happened that suitcases and pieces of the airplane were being hauled away, and that's ridiculous,” one of the investigators told us.

The wreckage was reconstructed at a hangar at Lambert Airport.

Our reporter asked, “what will be the first part of the plane that will be removed here today?”

The investigator replied, “we’re hoping that the first piece will be the nose or the cockpit area of the airplane, including landing gear and one engine that is up in the general area.”

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded the crash was caused by a severe downdraft from the thunderstorm.

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