Ahead of 50th Anniversary of Aviation Disaster, Vt. Woman Seeks Connections

Michelle Brennen wants families to know about a planned memorial in 2023

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Vermont woman is on a mission to find others like her: people who were affected by an aviation disaster in Boston in the 1970s.

Michelle Brennen is the child of one of the victims of a plane crash near the runway at Logan Airport, which killed nearly 90 people. With a milestone anniversary approaching, Brennen and others are now working on remembering the passengers and airline staff who were lost.

"It brings back really vivid memories," Brennen told NECN & NBC10 Boston Thursday, before she opened a crate of newspaper articles and leafed through clippings related to the July 31, 1973 crash.

Delta flight 723 was bound for Boston, from Burlington, Vermont. It made a stopover in Manchester, New Hampshire before the quick flight to Boston.

A series of problems including heavy fog in Boston contributed to the plane crashing into the sea wall on the approach into Logan, according to reports from the time.

"It was so painful that people weren’t able to talk about it," Brennen said. "And I think, after 50 years, some of us would like to talk about it."

Now one year out from the 50th anniversary of that disaster that killed 89 people, Brennen is working to track down about a dozen of the victims’ families, to make sure they know about plans for formal remembrances.

Social media is helping the loved ones connect, chiefly through the Facebook group Echoes of Delta Flight 723.

"I’m just so grateful that Michelle did it, and everybody joined, and that we have this community," said Rebecca Pinkus, who participated in a recent virtual town hall meeting with people affected by the crash. "Because it’s a long time coming."

"I wanted to take this opportunity just to thank you, all of you, for remembering our loved ones," said Karen Bagley, a participant in the virtual town hall who also lost her father. "And finally being able to connect with people who went through the same experience as I did."

Father Chris O’Connor, the airport chaplain at Logan, will lead a special service next July.

"There’s a common mourning that’s taking place," O’Connor observed in an interview Thursday with NECN & NBC10 Boston. "Our hope is to reach every family that was involved in that crash, that they might come together for solidarity, for prayer, and to remember both the loss and also the blessings that their family members were."

A memorial plaque is also in the works, Brennen said. It will be made from Vermont granite – a stone widely used in memorials – and will be donated by the Barre Granite Association, Brennan noted.

Next year’s headlines Brennen can add to her collection of news clippings may just read: strangers bound by tragedy find healing by honoring their loved ones.

“They were special people to all of us,” Brennen said of the friends and family lost in the plane crash.

Brennen said in addition to social media connecting families, the recent publication of a book about the crash has renewed interest in the disaster. “The Crash of Delta Flight 723: The Worst Disaster in New England History” is available online and through major retailers.

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