Danville museum to present rare exhibit on fatal airliner crash

Artifacts, documents and news coverage about Pacific Air Lines Flight 773 will be on display through Jan. 26

The Museum of the San Ramon Valley's latest exhibit offers people a rare glimpse into a fatal airliner crash that occurred just outside Danville almost 50 years ago.

Pacific Air Lines Flight 773, en route to San Francisco from Reno (with a stop in Stockton), exploded into a cow pasture three miles east of Blackhawk on Camino Tassajara the morning of May 7, 1964, killing all 44 passengers and crew members. The nation's attention soon turned to small-town Danville, which served as the staging area for emergency personnel, news media and crash investigators.

Entitled "Mystery in the Sky: The Crash of Flight 773," the new exhibit includes artifacts, documents and newspaper clippings about the deadly incident presented together publicly for the first time. The showing is set to open in downtown Danville this Tuesday (Dec. 31) and run through Jan. 26.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host a presentation by Julie Clark, the daughter of Flight 773's pilot, on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.

The Role Players Ensemble will also get into the act, collaborating with the museum for an original play called "Tassajara 1964." The performance is scheduled to take place this spring on the 50th anniversary of the plane crash.

The Flight 773 exhibit is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1-4 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sundays noon to 3 p.m. at the museum, 205 Railroad Ave. Admission costs $1.

For more information, call 837-3750 or visit the museum website.

Note: A previous version of this article referenced an incorrect itinerary for Flight 773.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Danville
on Dec 31, 2013 at 6:51 am

Actually the plane was a continuation flight from Stockton to San Francisco originating in Reno. The flight was crashed by a suicidal man on board that shot the pilot and co-pilot. Security in 1964 was a far cry from today.

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Posted by Chris S.
a resident of Diablo
on Dec 31, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I remember that day well. While waiting for the school bus in Diablo many ambulances and fire trucks were going to the site up Diablo Rd on their way to Tassajara Rd.. My grandfather worked with the local mortician Mel Whalen of the Danville Chapel next door to the theater , and they assembled a staging area for recovered parts (nothing larger than a hand)in the upstairs of the Village Theater. Many people first at the crash site of the F-27 Fairchild were trying to pocket scattered silver dollars as witnessed by my grandfather at the crash site.

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Posted by Long time local
a resident of Danville
on Jan 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

I still remember standing in line at the Village Theater for the Saturday matinee while the trucks arrived with the remains being collected upstairs. Pretty stunning for a child to take.

Like this comment
Posted by Tim R.
a resident of Danville
on Jan 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I grew up in Diablo and was nine years old at the time. I too remember standing in the long line for the Saturday matinee at the Village Theatre, and I recall there were perhaps two large refrigerated trailers parked along the Theatre wall nearest the mortuary. It was disconcerting to learn of the contents of those trailers.

Like this comment
Posted by David Whalin
a resident of Danville
on Dec 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm

I am the son of Mel Whalin who owned the San Ramon Valley Chapel I was 4 years old at the time. When that happened I did not see my dad for about a week. I will never forget. I have a few stories from that time that I can still Remember.

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