56 Years ago today: On 7 May 1964 a Pacific Air Lines Fairchild F-27A crashed near San Ramon, CA, when the pilot was shot by a passenger, killing all 44 occupants.
|Date:||Thursday 7 May 1964|
|Operator:||Pacific Air Lines|
|C/n / msn:||36|
|Total airframe hrs:||10252|
|Engines:||2 Rolls-Royce Dart 528-7|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 41 / Occupants: 41|
|Total:||Fatalities: 44 / Occupants: 44|
|Aircraft damage:||Damaged beyond repair|
|Location:||ca 5 km W of San Ramon, CA ( United States of America)|
|Phase:||En route (ENR)|
|Nature:||Domestic Scheduled Passenger|
|Departure airport:||Stockton Airport, CA (SCK/KSCK), United States of America|
|Destination airport:||San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO/KSFO), United States of America|
A Pacific Air Lines Fairchild F-27, N2770R, arrived at Reno, NV, at 19:40 as Flight 756 from San Francisco International Airport. The next day the airplane departed at 05:54 as Flight 773 to Stockton. Arrival at Stockton Airport, CA (SCK) was at 06:28. Two passengers deplaned and ten passengers boarded. Pacific Flight 773 was cleared by the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) to the San Francisco Airport, to climb in VFR conditions to 6,000 feet, and maintain 6,000 feet. The clearance was acknowledged correctly by the crew and departure was at 06:38. During its climb, the flight reported leaving 2,000 feet and was instructed by Stockton tower to contact Oakland ARTCC. contacting Oakland Center, the flight was instructed to maintain 5,000 feet.
Oakland ARTCC established radar contact six miles from Stockton and at 06:43 the flight reported reaching its assigned altitude of 5,000 feet. At 06:45:10, the Oakland ARTCC controller instructed Flight 773 to turn left to a heading of 235 degrees for a vector to the San Francisco final approach course. At 06:47:53, the flight contacted Oakland Approach Control. Shortly after that a high-pitched message was heard. The content of this message was not clear. The most probable message was determined to be: “Skippers shot. We’re been shot. (I was) Try ‘in ta help.” No other transmissions were heard from Flight 773. The F-27 descended and struck the upslope of an 800 foot hill.
A search of the wreckage area disclosed the presence of a .357 Smith and Wesson Model 27 Magnum revolver containing six empty cartridges which had been fired by the weapon. The gun with ammunition and a cleaning kit had been purchased by a passenger, Mr Gonzales on May 6, 1964. He had advised both friends and relatives that he would die on either the 6th or the 7th of May. He boarded Flight 756 on the 6th with a return reservation for Flight 773 on the following morning. Shortly before boarding the flight to Reno, Gonzales displayed the gun to numerous friends at the airport and told one person he intended to shoot himself. He also purchased two insurance policies in the total amount of $105,000. Investigation revealed that he was disturbed and depressed over marital and financial difficulties. On the return flight to San Francisco he gained access to the flight deck and shot both pilots.
PROBABLE CAUSE: “The shooting of the captain and first officer by a passenger during flight.”