Mr. Dan Burgner is a lifelong resident of Greene County, Tennessee. In July, 1964 he was living at the Burgner family home-a dairy farm a few hundred yards south of Bird's Bridge (36 08' 664“N 82 82' 442”W) which spans the Nolichuckey River in southern Greene County. Bird's Bridge is approximately 11 nautical miles East-Northeast of the crash site.
The Burgner farm was situated, slightly south of the Nolichuckey River, approximately halfway between Victor Airway 16 and Victor Airway 16S.
The day he witnessed United Flight 823 passing overhead he was 19 years old and studying to be a pilot.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Mr. Burgner a few questions.
TD: How old were you at the time of the crash of United Flight 823?
Dan Burgner: Nineteen.
TD: Were there times, on previous days or subsequent days, that you could identify other aircraft passing overhead as being Vickers Viscounts?
Dan Burgner: Yes, the engines were turbines and had a distinct whine. Other airliners of the time that flew over here had reciprocating engines. Jets were rare. Also, the engines protruded far forward of the wing leading edge.
TD: Can you estimate their average altitude?
Dan Burgner: It's hard to say without observing an overflight at a known altitude for a reference, but with what I've learned, in excess of 10,000'
TD: Have you ever been a passenger on a Vickers Viscount?
Dan Burgner: Yes. In the summer of 1966, two years after the crash. I knew it was the same model, but it didn't bother me.
TD: Can you relate your experience(s)?
Dan Burgner: It was a flight from Tri-Cities, Tn to Atlanta, Ga., a stop-over on the way to Montgomery, Ala. The ticket price was $34 one way. We all wore Sunday best when traveling in those days. Pleasant trip. First time on an airliner. I had just started to take flying lessons before that. The stewardesses were young women, good looking. One short, one tall. The tall one was heavy framed. The short one was very friendly. After we landed I saw them in a gift shop at the airport. We spoke and moved on. The experience was all positive.
TD: Where were you at the time you saw Flight 823 passing overhead?
Dan Burgner: In the front yard of my parent's home. It was afternoon. It flew right over where my home now stands.
TD: Can you estimate the altitude of Flight 823 on that day?
Dan Burgner: Without knowing anything else, my guess is 2000'.
TD: Can you describe what you witnessed when you saw the aircraft?
Dan Burgner: It was traveling northeast to southwest at a very low altitude.
TD: Did you feel that the aircraft was experiencing trouble?
Dan Burgner: Given the unusually low altitude it crossed my mind, but the engines appeared to me to still have power.
TD: Was there smoke coming from the aircraft?
Dan Burgner: No, not at that moment.
TD: Was the aircraft making unusual noise?
Dan Burgner: Because it was so low, it was unusually loud.
TD: Did you witness any unusual characteristics of the aircraft?
Dan Burgner: Nothing out of the ordinary.