73 Years ago today: On 29 May 1947 a United Air Lines Douglas DC-4 crashed near New York; killing 43 out of 48 occupants.
|Date:||Thursday 29 May 1947|
|C/n / msn:||18324|
|Total airframe hrs:||5950|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 4|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 41 / Occupants: 44|
|Total:||Fatalities: 43 / Occupants: 48|
|Aircraft fate:||Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA) ( United States of America)|
|Crash site elevation:||7 m (23 feet) amsl|
|Nature:||Domestic Scheduled Passenger|
|Departure airport:||New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA/KLGA), United States of America|
|Destination airport:||Cleveland Municipal Airport, OH (CLE/KCLE), United States of America|
A Douglas DC-4, operated by United Air Lines, was destroyed in an accident at New York-La Guardia Airport, New York, USA. Five of the 48 occupants survived the accident.
The DC-4, named “Mainliner Lake Tahoe”, was ready for takeoff at 19:04 hours local time. The tower operator asked whether the flight wished to wait out a storm on the ground. The captain answered. “I’ll take off.” The tower then advised the flight: “Cleared for immediate takeoff, or hold; traffic on final approach north of Riker’s Island.” Flight 521 rolled onto runway 18, and accelerated for takeoff immediately. The captain applied back pressure to the control column but the controls felt heavy and the aircraft did not respond. The captain decided to discontinue takeoff.
About 1,000 feet from the south end of the runway he applied brakes, ordering the co-pilot at the same time to cut the engines. A ground-loop was attempted by heavy application of left brake. The aircraft, however, proceeded to roll straight ahead. Then, with both brakes locked it continued over the remainder of the runway, crashed through the fence at the airport boundary, and half-bounced, half-flew across the Grand Central Parkway. The aircraft finally came to rest immediately east of the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics, a distance of 800 feet from the end of runway 18 and 1,700 feet from the point at which brakes were first applied. It was almost immediate enveloped in flames.
Investigation revealed that the gust locks on the plane had been altered, permitting it to remain locked even after removal of the gust lock warning tape.
PROBABLE CAUSE: “The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was either the failure of the pilot to release the gust lock before take-off, or his decision to discontinue the take-off because of apprehension resulting from rapid use of a short runway under a possible calm wind condition.”