Looking back on the mysterious explosion of NA Flight 2511

Source: Hal Watter
Source: Hal Watter

Reported by Jon Evans - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - An explosion blew apart National Airlines Flight 2511 in the skies over southeastern North Carolina 50 years ago, causing debris to fall on a farm in Brunswick County.

The aircraft was called in to be used as backup, when the normal plane scheduled from New York to Miami (flight 601) was grounded because of a cracked window.  Most of the passengers boarded another flight, but those who could not be accommodated were boarded on Flight 2511.

The plane left two hours late, but was on course until shortly after passing Wilmington.  The pilot checked in with ILM and minutes later crashed northwest of Bolivia.  All 34 people on board died.

Linda Bufano lost both of her parents in the crash and visited the farm to mark the 50th anniversary.

As she walked across the land, she thought about what her parents went through at the time.  They were going on their way to celebrate a second honeymoon with another couple.

"It's pretty overwhelming," said Bufano.  "It's one of the things I don't understand, that after fifty years, you think you'd sort of get over it already. But, it never fails to bubble up and get me a little wistful."


Click here to see pictures of the wreckage

While officials were investigating the wreckage they noticed one passenger appeared to have died from an explosion.

According to autopsy results, Julian A. Frank had been fatally injured by a dynamite explosion originating either in his lap or under his seat.  Wires and metal fragments, possibly from a bomb, were embedded in his body.

Investigators believe Frank had taken the bomb aboard willingly and say the incident was a murder-suicide.  They say Frank had been under investigation for fraud and embezzlement at the time of his death.

While investigators have theories about the explosion it remains a mystery because there is no conclusive evidence.  No charges have been made and the investigation officially remains open.

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