63 Years ago today: On 7 April 1957 a Varig Curtiss C-46 crashed near Bage, Brasil, killing all 40 occupants.

Date: Sunday 7 April 1957
Type:
Curtiss C-46A-45-CU Commando
Operator: Varig
Registration: PP-VCF
C/n / msn: 30283
First flight: 1944
Engines:Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51
Crew: Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers: Fatalities: 35 / Occupants: 35
Total: Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: Bagé Airport, RS (BGX) (   Brazil)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Bagé-Comandante Gustavo Kraemer Airport, RS (BGX/SBBG), Brazil
Destination airport: Porto Alegre-Salgado Filho International Airport, RS (POA/SBPA), Brazil

Narrative:
Soon after takeoff a fire developed in the left main gear wheel well. The pilot however, thought the fire had started in the engine, feathered the no. 1 engine and returned to the traffic pattern for a landing circuit. On finals he tried to lower the gear, but didn’t succeed. To avoid a belly landing, the pilot applied full power and tried to go around for another approach to land. Over the runway 05 and 23 intersection the aircraft’s left wing separated from the fuselage, causing the plane crash.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “A fire in the undercarriage housing and consequent breaking-off of the left wing in flight.
A contributing cause was an error in judgement. The pilot failed to assess the intensity of the fire in the undercarriage housing, having thought that by applying the procedure prescribed in ‘Regulations for C-46’, the fire had been extinguished or had become inconsequential.”