76 Years ago today: On 23 February 1945 an American Airlines Douglas DC-3-277 flew into a mountain near Rural Retreat, VA; killing 17 of the 22 occupants.

Date:Friday 23 February 1945
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-3-277
Operator:American Airlines
C/n / msn:2138
First flight:1939
Total airframe hrs:17296
Engines:Wright R-1820-G102
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 15 / Occupants: 19
Total:Fatalities: 17 / Occupants: 22
Aircraft damage:Damaged beyond repair
Location:9 km (5.6 mls) SW of Rural Retreat, VA (   United States of America)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA/KDCA), United States of America
Destination airport:?

American Airlines Flight 3 en route from New York to Los Angeles departed at 21:39 on February 22, 1945.

Departure from Washington had been at 00:11 on February 23. The last radio message from the flight was at 02:05 at 4,000 feet over Pulaski, Virginia. The DC-3 continued, passing through rain and clouds and encountering considerable turbulence. The airplane flew over mountainous terrain and struck the wooded summit of Glade Mountain at approx 3910 feet amsl.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “The pilot’s failure to properly plan the flight and remain at a safe instrument altitude under existing conditions. A contributing cause of the accident was the company’s laxity in dispatching and supervising the flight.”