Mary Frances Housley died as the result of attempting to save Brenda Joyce and others from burning, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 14, 1951. During a drizzle, an airplane in which Brenda, 4 months old, her mother, and 23 other passengers were seated in the cabin, crashed in an upright position near an airport runway. Gasoline escaping from the ruptured fuel tanks ignited, and flames 15 feet high enveloped the wing adjacent to the cabin door. From a seat in the cabin, Miss Housley, 24, airline stewardess, ran to the door and swung it open. Urging the passengers to be calm, she summoned them from their seats. She picked up Brenda, who was on a seat opposite the door, and resumed her position near the doorway. Brenda’s mother and several others reached the door and jumped out. Holding Brenda, Miss Housley continued telling the others to come to the doorway. Flames rose in gusts five to 10 feet high, and smoke appeared in the cabin. Passengers crowded the aisle leading to the door. At Miss Housley’s request, a man attempted to relieve her of Brenda, but before he could do so, he was pushed out the door. Flames lapped about the lower edge of the doorway and broke through the cabin wall. Maintaining her station near the door, Miss Housley continued to direct the passengers from the airplane. She loudly exhorted several women to jump from the doorway despite the flames, but they shrank back into the cabin. Dense flames engulfed the doorway, and Miss Housley was obscured from view. Firemen extinguished the flames and found Miss Housley on the cabin floor with Brenda in her lap. They and five other persons had perished in the fire. Fourteen others were injured or burned in jumping from the airplane but recovered. 42180-3720
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Mary Frances Housley, 24, of Jacksonville, Fla., died on Jan. 14, 1951, in Philadelphia, Pa. She was the daughter of John H. Housley, Sr., and Frances H. Housley of the Fountain City neighborhood in Knoxville, Tenn. Housley, a flight attendant known as “Frankie,” was born on Oct. 12, 1926.
In 2017, Knoxville City Council added the honorary name of “Mary Frances Housley Bridge” to a bridge at Holbrook Drive over Fountain Road in the city.
She was buried in Lynnhurst Cemetery in Knoxville.
(Edited from information published in an unidentified newspaper.)