Allegheny Airlines Flight 305 Crash at Capital City Airport, New Cumberland, Pa. November 29, 1969.
A friend of mine gave me copies of the photo’s of A Convair 340/440 from Allegheny Airlines. It over ran runway 26 at the Capitol City Airport, New Cumberland, Pa. On November 29, 1966.
The Convair was operating as flight 305 to Pittsburg, Pa. with a crew of 4 and 12 passengers. The aircraft was tail number N3414. Looking at the photographs you would never know that the aircraft was totally written off after the accident. There were no fatalities with this accident
According to the accident report, Flight 305 had a complete electrical failure due to an improperly installed heater. The pilot decided to abort the takeoff, but the prop reverseve did not work. The Convair overran the runway and collided with an approach light tower.
THE INVESTIGATION OF AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING AN ALLEGHENY AIRLINES CONVAIR 340 TYPE AIRCRAFT, N3414
DISCLOSED SEVERAL CONDITIONS THAT WE CONSIDER HAZARDOUS TO FLIGHT. A NEARLY TOTAL FAILURE OF THE AIRCRAFT ELECTRICAL SYSTEM OCCURRED DURING THE TAKEOFF RUN OF ALLEGHENY FLIGHT 305 AT HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, ON NOVEMBER 29,1966.
THE TAKEOFF WAS ABORTED AND WHEEL BREAKlNG APPLIED. THE ENGINE THROTTLES WERE PLACED IN THE REVERSE THRUST POSITION, BUT BECAUSE OF THE ELECTRICAL FAILURE THE PROPELLERS DID NOT MOVE TO A NEGATIVE PITCH WHICH RESULTED IN THE REAPPLICATION OF FORWARD THRUST. THE AIRCRAFT RAN OFF THE END OF THE RUNWAY AND STRUCK AN APPROACH LIGHT STANCHION WHICH TORE AWAY A SECTION OF THE LEFT WING. THE AIRCRAFT CAME TO REST
NEAR THE BOTTOM OF A HILL BEYOND THE END OF RUNWAY 26,
THE NOSE WHEEL COLLAPSED AND THE OUTBOARD FUEL TANK IN THE LEFT WINGWAS SLIGHTLY DAMAGED BUT RETAINED ITS FUEL.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT ALL USERS OF CONVAIR 340,440 AND 580 MODELS BE ALERTED TO THIS VARIATION IN ELECTRICAL COCKPIT HEATERS, THAT THE TERMINALS BE PROMINENTLY IDENTIFIED AND MANUAL INSTRUCTIONS CITE THE DIFFERENT TERMINAL CONFIGURATIONS WITH APPROPRIATE INSTALIATION INSTRUCTIONS.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT THE CONVAIR 340,440 AND 580 AIRCRAFT HEATER CIRCUITS BE MODIFIED TO PROVIDE CIRCUIT PROTECTION THAT WILL OPEN UNDER THE MOST ADVERSE FAULT CONDITION BEFORE THE FEEDER LIMITER OPENS. DURING THE INVESTIGATION, TWO MAINTENANCE ITEMS WERE NOTED WHICH WE BELIEVE ARE WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION. WHILE EXAMINING THE AIRCRAFT, LOOSE NUTS, SCREWS, DRILL SHAVINGS AND TRASH WERE FOUND INSIDE OF THE CIRCUIT BREAKER PANEL COMPARTMENT. ALSO, IT WA3-REVEALED THAT NO FUNCTIONAL TESTS WERE PERFORMED ON THE HEATER AFTER ITS INSTALLATION BEFORE RELEASING THE AIRCRAFT FOR PASSENGER SERVICE.
ALLEGHENY AIRLINES HAS ISSUED FLIGHT CAMPAIGN DIRECTIVE NO. 88-103 WHICH REQUIRES THE FOLLOWING: 1. INSPECT ALL AIRCRAFT FOR PROPER HEATER INSTALLATION. REPLACE AND DESTROY ALL NONSTANDARD HEATERS.
2.. CHECK HEATER CIRCUIT BREAKERS FOR PROPER RATING.
3.. CHECK HEATER WIRING FOR CONFORMANCE TO HEATER WIRING DIAGRAMS.
4. WHENEVER A HEATER IS REPLACED, THE STRUT SWITCH IS TO BE
BYPASSED AND THE WIRING STUDS CHECKED FOR PROPER POLARIN. (A
FULL FUNCTIONAL CHECK CANNOT BE CONDUCTED DUE TO LACK OF RAM AIR). THE FEDERAL AVlATlON AGENCY IS IN THE PROCESS OF ISSUING AN ALERT BULLETIN WHICH INSTRUCTS FIELD INSPECTORS TO ALERT ALL OPERATORS OF CV-340,44OAND580 MODEL ARCRAFT TO THE POSSIBILITY OF IMPROPER HEATER INSTALLATION AND TO ASCERTAIN THAT MAINTENANCE MANUALS CONTAIN ADEQUATE INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING HEATER REPLACEMENTS. MANUFACTURING DATA CALL FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF POWER TERMINALS. AN FAA ENGINEERING REVIEW IS BEING MADE OF THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM ON THESE AIRCRAFT TO DETERMINE THE NEED FOR MODIFICATION OF THE CIRCUIT PROTECTIVE DEVICES. TO PRECLUDE ACCUMULATION OF TRASH AND UNWANTED ITEMS IN THE CIRCUIT BREAKER PANEL COMPARTMENT, ALLEGHENY AIRLINES IS IN THE PROCESS OF ISSUING
AN INSPECTION CARD CALLING FOR VACUUMING THIS COMPARTMENT EACH 300 HOURS.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Flying the Northern Route
This is a great story from the August 24, 1956 issue of Flight Magazine, dealing with a flight over the Northern Route. Beter known as "OVER THE TOP".
'TWENTY-FOUR hours in Vancouver is too short a time
This was my main reflection as Canadian Pacific's DC-6B
Empress of Toronto taxied out from Gate 6 and across the
apron. Ahead of us was the novel prospect of a polar-route
flight to Europe, while behind me was a honeymoon couple and
the memory of a day-short glimpse of Canada's sparkling west
I had arrived in Vancouver the previous morning by T.C.A.
Viscount from Edmonton, which may not have been the most
picturesque way to cross the Rockies, but was certainly the fastest
and most comfortable. Much of that day I had spent at the
airport, soon absorbing its unique atmosphere of expanding and
varied activity. I had watched DC-3s, Cansos and Convairs
leaving for places with names such as Kitimat, Uranium City,
Yellowknife and Flin Flon; and I had sensed the airport's international
significance as a real cross-roads of Commonwealth
Of the various operators and associated companies which
jostle each other for space on Vancouver's airport, Canadian
Pacific Air Lines are the largest. The airline's headquarters and
main base are here, occupying some 300,000 sq ft. Prior to the
introduction of the Vancouver-Amsterdam service, GP.A.L.'s
trans-Pacific route from Sydney via Auckland, Fiji and Hawaii
was well established, and part of the popularity of the northern
route has been due to the fact that it completes a fast and convenient
network linking Australia, New Zealand and Canada with
Europe and the United Kingdom. A much publicized if dubious
distinction for passengers on this route is their ability to cross
the Equator, the International Date Line and the Arctic Circle
on one and the same service, and within four days. The company's
other main inter-continental service, intersecting this
route at Vancouver, is from Hong Kong and Tokyo to Mexico
City, Lima and Buenos Aires.
My first contact with the direct planning of our flight from
Vancouver to Amsterdam was at 11.30 on the morning of the
flight, two hours before take-off, when I joined the crew for their
detailed met. briefing. The assembling of weather information
for the flight had begun much earlier, however—at about 2 a.m.
—when special upper-air charts had been prepared in the airport's
met. section. The C.P.A.L. flight dispatcher had checked
with met. a few hours .'ater, and had prepared provisional routings
in the form of a pre-plan; using the forecast wind-components
at various altitudes he had calculated times and fuel
consumptions at various engine powers. From the pre-plan, the
captain had obtained a general picture of the probable effect of
weather conditions on the flight, before discussing the later
weather information at the 11.30 briefing.
A first look at the charts indicated some doubt that we would
be able to reach Sondrestrom Fiord, Greenland (the only
normally scheduled stop between Vancouver and Amsterdam) in
one hop. Although there would be tailwinds in the early part of
the flight, followed by southerly crosswinds, critical easterly headwinds
in the later section were forecast.
After a half-hour session with the met. man, during which the
various alternative routes were discussed, the crew returned to
the dispatch office at C.P.A.L. headquarters for detailed flight
planning. The range and fuel consumption for given headwind
components were noted and related to the forecast winds, the
effect of cruising altitude was considered, and meanwhile an
accurate check of freight, baggage and passenger weights was
being made to determine the find permissible fuel toad.
The captain of the aircraft on this trip was to be Capt. Ralph
B. Leslie who, just one year earlier, had flown the inaugural service
of this same route. Previously chief pilot of the Sydney-
Armsterdam sector, Capt. Leslie had also been responsible tor
much of the preliminary flying and planning in connection with
the opening of the new route. First officer was Ted Randall, one
of a C.P.A.L. family (his father and brother are also pilots) who—
despite the earnest efforts of the airline's publicity departmenthad
never yet flown all three together in the same crew.
Listed as second officer on the crew list was Capt. Bill Roxborough,
a check pilot who was making a familiarization flight on the
northern route for the first time. Completing the flight
crew—and doing most of the work in the flight-planning phase—
were the two navigators, Bill Douthwahe and Bill McLean.
The final permissible fuel figure was 31,800 lb, 400 lb more
than had initially been estimated, and Capt. Leslie decided to
flight-plan to Sondrestrom direct, with Frobisher as alternate.
One of two power techniques could be used: long-range
economical cruise (normally used on flights of more than 12
hours' duration); or combination power, which meant beginning
the flight at 1,240 h.p. and cutting down to 1,100 h.p. after four
hours' flying. The distance to Sondrestrom was some 2,700 miles.
It was decided to employ combination power. An easterly
leg was to be flown across the Rockies to East Princeton, after
which we would set course—the Great Circle course^—direct for
Sondrestrom, which would take us north of Edmonton. The leg
to Sondrestrom, it was finally calculated, would take 10 hr 37 min.
From Capt. Leslie I heard brief details of the special techniques
used on the northern route. The basic navigational problems,
he explained, were caused by the unreliable magnetic area in
the region of the North Magnetic Pole (a region extending to a
radius of over 1,000 miles); and in the convergence of the meridians
towards the Pole in the high latitudes. Ordinary magnetic
compasses and conventional map projections are of little use in
flying accurate long-range routes in these areas.
The answer to these problems had been found in the use of a
directional gyro with a very small rate of random drift, together
with the adoption of the Greenwich Grid chart system (in which
headings given in grid degrees remain constant throughout a
Great Circle route). Canadian Pacific, in common with S.A.S.,
the other northern-route operator, use the Bendix polar-path
gyro, which is fitted with a high-latitude t»mpensator.
Having filed the flight plan with the flight dispatcher, we
moved back across to the terminal block, where I left the crew
to complete their pre-flight formalities, and went to join the other
passengers. For many of these Vancouver was simply a nightstop
where they had landed the previous midnight, having
boarded the Empress of Toronto at Auckland just three days
A fair number were starting their journey at Vancouver, however,
and these were liberally equipped with eager friends and
relatives. There was obviously still some novelty in flying the
so-called polar route to Europe—at least for passengers and
friends, if not for the crew.
We jostled through the crowd at Gate 6 and boarded the aircraft.
The popularity of this service was clearly no myth; 55
out of the 56 seats were filled. Scheduled take-off time was
1.30 p.m., but it was 1.45 before we began to taxi out, and two
o'clock when the Pratt and Whitneys were opened up for the
We gained height for the easterly leg across the Rockies in a
climbing circle out over the bay. This gave us a fresh view of
the wide and handsome picture that is Vancouver in its own
special setting of- mountains, coastline and the Pacific. Soon we
had crossed the coastal range and the North Okanagan belt and
were approaching the Rockies themselves.
Much of the grandeur of the Rockies scenery was obscured by
a mixture of cloud as we crossed the range at 17,000ft, but there
remained the striking sight of some of the highest peaks jutting
up above the main strato-cumulus layer. Steep islands with snowcovered
tops, and smaller lumps on which, it seemed, one might
quite easily stub one's toes.
Capt. Leslie spoke over the cabin-address system, apologizing
for the take-off delay, which had been caused by a malfunctioning
tachometer. He was sorry we could not see more of the Rockies;
they were very beautiful at this time of year. We would decrease
height to 11,000ft after passing Edmonton, he said, in order to take
advantage of more-favourable winds.
A cabin crew of three was carried by the Empress of Toronto.
There were two stewardesses, Patricia Stobart and Dolores
Jordan, and one steward, Leendert van Eijk, whose home is in
Amsterdam and who was previously with K.L.M. Soon it was
time for them to take orders for drinks before lunch, and to
indicate one of the differences between first-class and tourist
facilities by dispensing packages of books of matches, embossed
with the passenger's name in gold, to the fortunate firsts. One
mentally deducted their probable cost from the $204,70 difference
in fares on the Vancouver-Amsterdam trip . . .
The confusion of my stomach and mind on this trip began
between three and four o'clock Pacific Daylight Time (local time
in Vancouver), when a truly magnificent lunch was served. The
trick was to lose eight hours between Vancouver and Amsterdam,
keeping up a pretence of normal habits the while. To assist
matters, footrests and blankets were brought round at five o'clock,
just after lunch had ended, and most of the passengers obediently
took the hint and went to sleep.
There were, however, a number of exceptions. Across the
aisle, oblivious to the atmosphere of rest which pervaded the
first-class cabin, an English couple were earnestly discussing
serious topics. In the seats behind me was a young Canadian
• newly married couple, quietly listing their reasons why their
wedding reception was much better than others they had attended.
The girl, I remembered, had approached Jack Crump of C.P.A.L.,
with whom I had been talking before the flight, to thank him
for providing some information several months previously. The
young lady had at that time been preparing a College thesis on
airline economics—a most unlikely sort of thing to accompany
red hair and freckles—and since then she had graduated with a
First (hence the gratitude to Mr. Crump) and, the previous day,
had got married. The two were now on their way to a twomonths
honeymoon in Europe.
Across from these two, two separate young women were variously
occupied. The window-side one, having surely exhausted
her supply of films in recording every aspect of the pre-lunch
scenery, was churning out letter-cards at an amazing rate; while
her companion, blanketed and footrested, slept eloquently with
her mouth open.
Representative of another type of traveller was the middleaged
married couple who sat in front of the two tall and untidy
Britishers. For them, it seemed, the flight was complicated.
Well-equipped with personal impedimenta—much of it contained
in a Braniff Air Lines bag with a Japan Air Lines label—one or
the other was invariably moving, adjusting, re-arranging, or displacing
either themselves or their belongings in the intervals
between restless sleep. They were no beginners in the travel
game, though: the wife had declined the six-course Empress
lunch in favour of two dishes of what looked like asparagus stalks;
the husband had swiftly blocked up the ventilation slits with two
postcards from the flight pack which said "Welcome"; and at one
stage they had the seat-arm off and stacked in their ceaseless quest
for peace of mind.
We were now passing over the incredible, interminable lakespattered
expanse of the "Barren lands" of Canada's Northwest
Territories, having earlier crossed the flat sweep of the northern
prairies. The thousands of small, intricately jigsawed lakes which
stretched all around seemed to be patterned on a huge melonskin
surface. More lakes, and more barren marshland. Our
first sight of ice came at 6.20 Vancouver time, when some of the
lakes to the north were seen to be frozen. Then a hesitant
whitening appeared to starboard, too, with a blue-black edging
which traced the shores of the larger lakes. A little later, some
way above the sixtieth parallel, the scene below was completely
This part of the route, approaching within 500 miles of the
magnetic pole, is especially susceptible to magnetic errors and
discrepancies. Compass errors of over 60 deg have been caused
by magnetic bodies on the ground, and the change in magnetic
variation over this sector can be from 20 deg west to 60 deg east.
Our aircraft was carrying two independent stand-by gyros in
addition to the Bendix polar-path unit. The Bendix and at least
one of the others were operating continuously throughout the
flight. McLean and Douthwaite were checking the aircraft heading
every half-hour by means of astro sights; and astro fixes of
OUT position were being taken every hour. Other navigational
facilities—such as Loran, D.R. and radio ranges—were, of course,
being used during the flight.
After the astro checks the gyros were not re-set, but their
individual rates of precession were noted and used in subsequent
adjustments to course. I was told that the precession rate of the
Bendix instrument was between one and two degrees per hour.
Following the direct Great Circle track to Sondrestrom, we
would by this time have been crossing the great Hudson Bay.
We had taken a more northerly course, however, in order to take
advantage of better winds, and so were continuing over land
towards the north of the bay. "How many times could you fit
the British Isles into Hudson Bay?" asked the blonde, tiredlooking
Englishwoman of her husband. It seemed an excellent
Throughout the flight, regular information on the aircraft
position, course, alterations of flight plan, and other details were
being transmitted back to Vancouver, where our progress was
charted in the dispatch office. The flight dispatcher, who had
initiated the planning for our flight with his pre-plan early this
morning, would now be noting our change of course to the north.
At nine o'clock Vancouver time (midnight local time) Captain
Leslie announced that we were passing the northern tip of
Southampton Island, which straddles the top of Hudson Bay.
We were only 450 miles from the North Magnetic Pole, he
reported, and we should cross the Arctic Circle in about 25
minutes. We had then just passed over Roes Welcome Sound,
a large stretch of water between the mainland and Southampton
Island—and the first stretch of open water since leaving the
Pacific. To our left was Repulse Bay.
Empress of Toronto purred on, and below passed wide rolling
sandbanks of stratus, tinted a tepid pink by the northern sun,
now low on the port horizon. The English couple had begun
a new and strange occupation: the wife was filling in a diary, in
great day-to-day detail, beginning three weeks previously. I
could not avoid hearing her intense questioning of her husband.
"What time did you leave? . . . How did you come back? . . .";
and, for the fourth of June, a bizarre reply which sounded like
"Drove train back, drinking. . . ." That, one thought, must have
been quite a day.
At 9.22 Vancouver time (I had decided not to confuse my
watch until the last possible moment) came an electrifying
announcement. "For your information," Capt. Leslie crisply
reported, "we are now crossing the Arctic Circle, at 22 minutes
past midnight, local time." Almost with a click everyone's eyes
turned to look down at this important boundary but, alas, the
dotted line shown on all the maps just wasn't there. The passengers
on the starboard side gazed down on a sheet of stratus (which
looked just the same as the lower-latitude stuff), and those to port
had slightly better value with a glimpse of Foxe Basin (with ice),
the channel which separates Baffin Island from the Canadian
mainland. The occasion raised a ripple of excited chatter and
some smiling nods across the aisle. "What did you do in the
evening?" the Englishwoman asked. . . .
Normally, Capt. Leslie explained, the Circle would not be
crossed until about an hour and a half later. However, the more northerly
track made good on this occasion would also mean that
we would not see the sun set (and rise ten minutes later); instead,
it would be with us the whole way—which it was. Just to confuse
things further, the moon at that moment began to come up on
the starboard side. "Monday afternoon, cocktails. What did you
do on Tuesday? . . . "
The sight of the crags, mountains and cliffs of Baffin Island
was perhaps the most dramatic of the entire first leg. Topped
by a thick and creamy layer of real snow, in contrast to the icing
blobs seen floating in the grey washing-up water of Foxe Basin
the cliffs and valleys were given sharp contrast in the bright sunlight.
But beneath the illusion of whipped cream caused by the
light-and-shade combination on certain slopes lay the reality of
an extremely inhospitable type of country.
At about ten o'clock (this, being Vancouver time, was
equivalent to 2 a.m. at Sondrestrom) dinner was served, with the
magnificent Baffin Island scenery as an accompaniment. The
keen young short-time husband behind me had commented "Just
imagine living on one of those ice packs . . ." as we had
approached the coast; and an equally imaginative attitude was
shown by the tall Englishman as he firmly declined his champagne
in favour of a can of beer. Steward van Eijk took this very well,
and I managed not to choke over my filet mignon at the time.
To the north, the sun's bright light had softened to glow with a
subtle presence on a proud, silent range of peaks.
Discussing the flight with Capt. Leslie, I heard that we were
meeting headwinds of 35-40 kt from the top of a low-pressure
area. These regions were more normally encountered further
south. Our revised E.T.A. at the Greenland base was now
5.15 a.m. local time.
The sun's reflection could now be seen, metallic and cold, on
the pack and drift ice which fringed the coast of Baffin Island.
Consulted by the young Canadian couple as a relatively experienced
Arctic Circle flier (one previous trip to the Lofoten Islands
in a Coastal Command Neptune from Kinloss), I was able to
confirm that the iceberg-like objects jutting up from the coastal
ice were indeed icebergs. The wide background expanse of
coastal ice was traced with a fantastic pattern of random lines and
areas, presumably as a result of changing pressures and movements.
The general effect was something like a gigantic photomicrograph
of an etched metallic specimen—or like the patchwork pattern of English fields, entirely white fields withspidery outlines. As we headed out over the Davis Strait towardsGreenland, the view below became obscured by cotton-wool
ripples of cloud.
Accepting Captain Leslie's invitation to come up front, I found
him busily signing 55 Arctic Circle Club cards (denoting a successful
crossing of the Circle by each passenger) as I entered the
cockpit. Ted Randall was getting some rest, and Capt. Roxborough
was in the co-pilot's seat.
From the jump seat in the cockpit I watched the approach to
Greenland and Sondrestrom. Our indicated speed and altitude
were 200 kt and 11,000ft, the latter decreasing as directed by
Sondrestrom Control in stages. Our landfall was made at
Holsteinborg, where we turned on to a course on which we would
join the fiord of Sondrestrom.
Having intercepted one leg of the base's beacon, we turned
again, this time to fly in along the fiord itself—and into the
sun. This part of Greenland, at this time of year, was not snowcovered,
and presented a rocky brown face to the world. Ahead
of us, as we let down along the fiord, could be seen the airstrip
—some thirty miles distant. Although conditions were ideal, we
had requested a practice G.C.A. approach.
Soon we were literally in the slot, with our wing-tips below
the level of the cliff-face on either side, and the straight-in
approach was completed with a smooth touchdown at three
minutes past five in the morning, local time. The strangely
garbed natives who, exchanging weird and unfamiliar cries,
shuffled out to greet us, proved to be the U.S.A.F.
While the aircraft was being refuelled, passengers adjourned
to the waiting room to quench thirsts, to buy souvenirs, and to
post cards (featuring polar bears and Eskimos) to most ends of
the world. Quite a number of infants and small children were
travelling; they seemed to be among the more assured of the
passengers. Also bearing up very well under the circumstances
was a nervous young Englishman who was saying to Stewardess
Jordan, "Yes, I'm the one who's going home to get married—
can't you tell by the worried expression?"
Not waiting to ascertain Miss Jordan's reply, I left the lounge
and sampled the fresh air of Sondrestrom. This felt good. The
air temperature was a comfortable 64 deg F, and the time was
five-thirty in the morning—a unique and distinguished hour for
any journalist to be out and conscious. True, back in Vancouver
people were just turning in after a big time, or perhaps just
going on to Ted's place; while in London the morning rushhour
traffic jam at Vauxhall would be almost over: but these
were philosophical thought-toys for others to play with. Such
confusions were not for me. *
The various U.S.A.F. aircraft on the base, also, were not for
me—or so I was informed by the security-minded gentleman
with a gun in his belt. I concurred, noting only that the machines
comprised a gaggle of flat-footed wheel/ski Dakotas and a B-29.
Soon the other passengers were coaxed and coached back to our
Empress, where I rejoined them; we bade the natives farewell;
and taxied out to the runway. One hour at Sondrestrom, Canadian
Pacific Air Lines had said, and one hour they meant: we
took off at tb ree minutes past six. Out over the deep-green water
of the fiord, and then eastward
across the snow-covered inland region and the white-streaked
brown-and-grey coastal border. One of my last impressions of
Greenland was of the piercing blue of a number of lakes which
interrupted the vast white expanse—looking exactly like royalblue
ink blots soaking into a sheet of white blotting-paper. We
climbed to 17,000ft on course for Amsterdam, which we expected
to reach in 7 hr 15 min. This leg was of 2,200 miles.
From the gap in my notebook between leaving Greenland
and eating breakfast I deduce that, while Iceland and the North
Atlantic passed below, I slept. I woke to be greeted with the
news that, while my watch indicated 11.15 (Sondrestrom time),
local time was 3.15 in the afternoon. This was clearly as good
a time as any to have breakfast, for in two hours it would be
tea-time and we would be landing at Amsterdam. Any confusion
this may cause the reader is, I vouch, extremely small beer compared
with my own blank bewilderment at the time.
Fifteen minutes later the coast of Scotland came up, and we
passed over Prestwick and a range of grey, brown and purple
highlands. This countryside soon gave way to a pleasant green
patchwork of fields; looking down on it, we shared the blue
sky only with some tufts of fair-weather cumulus. We finished
breakfast, and it was ten to four. A brace of Hunters swam up to
taste the bright afternoon above the scattered clouds, and
thoroughly enjoyed themselves in a lively tail-chase to our right.
Our northern-route flight was drawing to a close. Confidently
we could now look in the eye the silent paper bags which had
faced us all the way from Canada's west coast. "After use, fold
toward you" they said. We were now reasonably sure the use
would not arise.
At 4.55 the stewardess came round with coats and hats and,
after a let-down through a dull and grey overcast over the flat
Dutch countryside, we landed at Schiphol at 5.15. Flying time
from Vancouver had totalled 18£ ht while the total elapsed time
was only one hour more. For those of us who were going on
to London, there remained a two-hour wait for the connecting
K.L.M. Convair service, and an hour-and-ten-minute flight.
Walking from the airport lounge at Schiphol, I almost collided
with a huge mass of Dutch roses, which turned out to be the
wedding-bound Englishman with a modest posy for his
betrothed. He still had on his worried look, and anxiously
sought my reassurance—readily given—concerning the probable
reaction of the loved one to his flowers.
We came in across die Great West Road and touched down
at London Airport at 8.20 p.m. From Vancouver the whole trip
had taken us 22 hr 15 min. From Auckland, passengers had
taken four days.
Airport formalities soon completed, the passengers boarded
the airline coach, or were met by friends with cars. The young
man about to marry, the tall and languid couple, the aviation
writer needing a shave. New Zealanders, Canadians, and Englishmen.
Already some had clearly slammed their minds shut
behind them on their Arctic Circle flight, and were hurrying
back into dieir familiar routine environment. Odiers, I knew,
had not closed the door on their thoughts, and were lagging
behind a little. Perhaps as far as Sondrestrom, where we had
seen a polar bear—if only the one painted on the control tower.
Perhaps even to Vancouver, where it was now five a.m. the
following day—but let us not start that son of time-wasting
For us, as well as for die Canadian Pacific crews, die phrase
would now be "nordiern routine," and not northern route. We
had completed a flight which was at once uneventful and yet of
absorbing interest; relatively short in time and yet somehow
spanning a long sector of new and varied experience. In our
wallets were the crisp, shiny cards which proclaimed our membership
of die Arctic Circle Club (whatever that might imply);
while in my mind was the thought diat, even if 24 hours in
Vancouver was too short a time, one could easity return there
from London in an even briefer period.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
HEADLINES POTTSVILLE REPUBLICAN
TAG ALL PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
NOVEMBER 30, 1962
THE CRASH OF EASTERN AIRLINES FLIGHT 512, DC-7B , N851D
Eastern Airlines Flight 512, bound from Charlotte, N.C. to Idelwild Airport, a DC-7B four-engine aircraft, arrived over the New York City area at approximately 9:00 P. M. on November 30, 1962.
The DC-7B was one of seven Eastern Air Lines flights daily from Charlotte to New York. It arrived here at 6:25 p. m. from New York and started on its non-stop 2-hour return flight at 7:05 p. m. when Douglas Municipal Airport was bustling with activity
The crew previously had been informed that due to adverse weather conditions the flight might have to be diverted to Philadelphia. While in its holding pattern, the aircraft was advised that "there was pretty bad fog on the airport," and that as a result "some [planes] are making it and some are not."
At approximately 9:37,Idelwild Approach Control cleared EAL 512 for an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to Runway 4 Right. Such an approach required the controller to guide the aircraft by radar until the plane intercepted a localizer beam, at which point the crew assumed full navigation of the plane.
Then at 9:45 P.M. something went horribly wrong.
On December 1, 1962 the Associated Press released the following story.
THE POTTSVILLE REPUBLICAN NEWSPAPER….
25 KILLED IN FOG-SHROUDED PLANE CRASH AT IDLEWILD
26 SCRAMBLE TO SAFETY THROUGH EMERGENCY EXITS
New York…An airliner groping through a fog crashed with a loss of 25 lives -- 26 escaped -- at Idlewild Airport Friday night in the sixth major aviation disaster in a week.
It boosted the total death toll to 206.
The latest in the series of accidents at 9:45 p. m., kept the airport closed until 7:10 a. m. today, delaying more than 50 flights.
Federal investigators converged at the airport to determine the cause. Another airliner had landed safely only 90 seconds before.
The plane, an Eastern Air Lines four-engined DC7B bound here from Charlotte, N. C., slewed into a marsh and burned.
Airport tower controllers sighted the plane about a mile from its runway and everything appeared normal, said Oscar Bake, Eastern regional assistant administrator for the Federal Aviation Agency.
FOG CUT VISIBILITY
"From this point on, because of intervening ground fog, tower personnel were not able to see the aircraft," he related. "At approximate touchdown time, the tower saw an orange glow from the direction of Runway 4-R."
Investigators said the plane was coming in for an instrument landing, along with visual checks by the pilot.
They disclosed that one of two instrument approach landing systems was not working, but expressed doubt that this had anything to do with the crash.
William L. Lamb, air safety investigator for the Civil Aeronautics Board, said the precision approach radar system was out of operation because instruments were being moved from one room to another in the control tower.
A second system -- the instrument landing system -- was working.
Lamb said the pilot presumably knew that one system was out. He said that, when both were working, it was usually the pilot's choice which to use.
The city mortuary reported that 23 of the 25 victims were men and that the other two apparently were women.
Aboard were 46 passengers and five crew members. Three crew members perished and two, stewardesses, survived.
The crewmen who perished were Capt. EDWARD J. BECHTOLD, 43, the pilot, of Laurel Hollow, N. Y.; JULES WAGNER, co-pilot of Cambria Heights, N. Y.; and ROBERT L. VORKEES, 31, pilot-flight engineer, of Comoack, N. Y.
Officials declined comment on the cause of the crash pending investigation. Survivors scrambled through emergency exits, crawling and running from the flames that engulfed the forward portion of the propeller-driven Eastern Air Lines DC7B, arriving from Charlotte, N. C. Idlewild had been completely covered by fog earlier in the evening and Capt. EDWARD BECHTOLD, a veteran frequently used as an export cross-examiner in government inquiries into crashes told the passengers he might try to land at Philadelphia.
"We don't know what made him change his mind," said LEONARD CLEMENTI of Huntington, Long Island, one of the injured survivors.
Another passenger, LOU LOUFT, a movie producer from Dover, N. J., recalled the pilot announcing: "We can make it. There is a little hole. We should be down in about six minutes."
On instrument control, the big airliner started descending from the eastern side of the busy airport on Long Island, the side toward Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
"We could see the lights as we came down," said HELEN FOURNIER, 21, of Forest Hills, Queens, one of the two stewardesses on Eastern's Flight 512. Both survived.
"Then we came down with a bang," she continued. "It was kind of quick. It seemed that the pilot was increasing the power, but we didn't get anywhere. Then there was a sort of flash. There was no explosion, though."
Several passengers recalled what seemed to be a desperate effort by BECHTOLD to get the lumbering aircraft back into the air.
TAIL END HITS GROUND
"The tail end of the plane hit the ground and the plane slewed around," said M. V. LITTLE, 54, of Garden City, Long Island.
Hurtling across a reedfilled marsh, 200 yards west of the runway, the aircraft smashed to a half and burst into flames.
It split open down the back. Seats were tossed into the foggy darkness, some with bodies still strapped into place for landing.
WALTER MUELLER of Floral Park, N. Y., told of the thoughts burned into his memory: "The first thing that enters your mind is: 'I've had it.' You're not sure in your mind that you're living. You just do things."
"The flames came into the plane from the front end before we ever stopped," said LOUFT, producer of Louft Productions, Inc., a motion pictures firm.
He was returning from a commercial film assignment in Charlotte with his two partners, script-writer FRANK SMITH, 72, of Manhattan, and production manager FRANK KOLAREK, who lives near Idlewild. All survived.
REHEARSAL SAVES LIVES
Before leaving North Carolina, KOLAREK rehearsed how to open the emergency exit beside his seat.
"KOLAREK saved several of our lives because he got that window open immediately," SMITH said.
Passengers leaped and tumbled through the openings, driven by the flames and fear.
"We kept pushing passengers out," stewardess FOURNIER recalled. "First one out and then another one. We pushed them all out. When everyone was out that I could see. I jumped to the ground. I ran and ran and I stopped and I said, 'No, I can't do this. I must help them.'"
She returned to the flaming wreckage and helped drag and guide survivors away from the intense heat.
ONE MAN ON FIRE
"One man was on fire," she said. "His whole body was burning. I put him out” Passengers, too, returned from safety to try to aid their less fortunate travelers.
Ambulances, guided by men on foot, crept toward the scene. Elsewhere in the fog blanket on Idlewild, five airliners were "lost," holding their positions on the ground, awaiting police cars to guide them to some haven.
Staffs at three hospitals mobilized to handle the injured, and two doctors from Peninsula General Hospital went to the airfield.
COUNT 25 BODIES
"There were 25 bodies, including one child," said DR. OSWARD MORAN. "I counted them. It was terrible. All of them were burned."
The crash was Eastern's first since an Electra turbojet plunged into Boston harbor shortly after taking off Oct. 6, 1960, killing 62 persons.
Idlewild's last crash occurred just nine months ago, on March 1. An American Airlines transcontinental jet climbing from the runway faltered and dived into Jamaica Bay, carrying all 95 persons aboard to their deaths.
“Plane Came Down All Of A Sudden”
New York AP… There are more than a score of voices left to tell the last moments-split seconds filled with flashes of fire, explosions and final disintegration.
These are graphic expressions used by some of the 26 survivors of Friday night’s crash of an Eastern Air Lines four engine plane.
Twenty-five voices are stilled forever. They were among the 51 aboard the piston propelled DC-7B who lost their lives in the fog shrouded crash.
Stewardess Helen Fournier of Forest Hills, Queens was one of the survivors.
ORANGE FLAMES THEN SMOKE
She said this of her experience. “The plane came down all of a sudden. It didn’t stop. There was an orange flame. Immediately the plane filled with smoke.”
Walter Mueller, of Floral Park , N.Y. said the craft “disintegrated into a huge ball of fire. In a split second flames were all over.”
Donald Barbour, 36 of Coxsackie, N.Y. where he is manager of Special Heating Products, had praise for the pilot’s unsuccessful attempts to raise the plane off the ground after it first touched down.
He praised the stewardesses saying, “They were really terrific in helping the passengers. I think they more than you could humanly expect them to.”
M.V. Little of Huntington Station, N.Y. was asked if their was any panic in the plane following the crash.
“Hell yes,” he replied. “Everyone was trying to get the hell out of there.”
SHOWN BELOW.... PARTS OF THE CAB INVESTIGATION INTO THE CRASH OF FLIGHT 512
Eastern 512 Crash Investigation
Eastern Air Lines Flight 512, a Douglas DC-7B, N 815D, crashed during an attempted go-around following an instrument approach to runway 4R at New York International Airport, at 2145 e.s.t., on November 30, 1962 Of the 51 persons aboard, 21 passengers, 3 crew members and an additional crew member occupying the jump seat did not survive.
Flight 512, regularly scheduled from Charlotte, North Carolina, non-stop to New York International Airport, entered a fog condition near the threshold of runway 4R. A go-around was initiated; however, the aircraft struck the ground in a slightly nose-high attitude and was virtually destroyed by impact and subsequent fire.
In command of flight 512 was Captain Edward J. Bechtold, age 43, was employed by Eastern Air Lines on April 26, 1945, and had accumulated a total of 15,644 hours flight time, of which 2,700 hours were in DC-7 type aircraft. A veteran Eastern pilot and a man who was recognized as an expert on air safety. He was a member of the Air Traffic Control Committee of the Air Line Pilots Association, Chairman of the New York Air safety Committee. Captain Bechtold often criticized Idlewild's facilities, especially dealing with landing aids.
The First officer on flight 512 is Julius A. Wagner, age 45, he was employed by Eastern Air Lines on March 15, 1951, and had accumulated a total of 9,042 hours flight time. He had accumulated a total of 1,610 hours flight time in DC-7 type aircraft, of which 71 hours were as pilot-in-command.
The Pilot/Flight Engineer is Robert L. Voorhees age 31, he was employed by Eastern Air Lines on August 26, 1957, and had accumulated a total of 4,080 hours flight time. He had accumulated a total of 149 hours as pilot-engineer and 718 hours as a pilot in DC-7 aircraft.
In the cabin were Flight Attendant Helen L. Fournier was employed by Fasten Air Lines on April 16, 1962 and Flight Attendant Patricia J. Richards was employed by Eastern Air Lines on June 24, 1961.
The DC-7B was manufacturer's serial No 45084, owned and operated by Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York, was manufactured in September, 1956, and had a total flying time of 18,411:06 hours of which 281:91 hours had been accumulated since the last major inspection. The aircraft was powered by four Wright model 972TC18DA-3/4 engines with Hamilton Standard, model 34E60-363 propellers. Engine times were as follows:
The Board determines the probable cause of this accident was the technique employed by the crew during abandonment of the approach under fog conditions not adequately reported.
Flight 512 was attempting a go-around following an instrument approach to runway 4R at Idelwild. Of the 51 persons aboard, 21 passengers, 3 crew members and an additional crew member occupying the jump seat did not survive.
The EAL forecast attached to the Dispatch Release of Plight 512 indicated clear skies or scattered clouds for Idlewild.
Flight 512 departed Charlotte at 1941 and proceeded in accordance with an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) clearance
While en route to Idlewild, EAL 512 was in radio communication with the Atlanta, Washington, and New York Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC). The flight was also maintaining radio contact with EAL on company radio
Being that EAL 512 had no voice recorder on board all radio transcripts are taken from the CAB report.
The following transcripts are taken from the CAB accident investigation and are the authors interpretation of what transpired up and till the crash of EAL 512.
The aviation terminal forecast, valid for the period from 1800 on November 30, to 0600 on December 1, predicted partial obscuration, 3 miles visibility in haze and smoke with occasional 2 mile visibility. FAA publications indicated that the landing aids for runway 4R at Idlewild included an Instrument landing System (ILS); sequenced flashing lights; runway centerline, edge and threshold lights; taxiway lights; approach lights and rotating beacon. The Precision Approach Radar (PAR) was declared by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to be out of service.
The EAL forecast attached to the Dispatch Release of Plight 512 indicated clear skies or scattered clouds for Idlewild.
19:27… The Idlewild forecast is amended by the Weather Bureau. This amended forecast was to be valid for the period from 1940 to 0600; it called for "ceiling zero obscuration, visibility zero, fog, variable to clear, visibility 1-1/2 miles ground fog."
There is no evidence that Flight 512 was advised of this forecast.
19:41… Flight 512 departs Charlotte on an IFR clearance.
20:15… TEL-autograph transceivers in the FAA control tower cab and IFR room became inoperative. This equipment is utilized to communicate written weather information between the Weather Bureau office and the control tower cab and IFR room. Also, it was discovered that the direct voice communication line (hot line) between the control tower and the Weather Bureau was inoperative.
20:23…. 512..Dispatch, If Idlewild below on arrival, you are cleared to Philadelphia.
512..dispatch , several other flights are diverting to Newark.
At this time the RVR digital readout in the tower for runway 4R was malfunctioning
20:45 …EAL 512 , New York you are cleared to the Sandy Hook holding pattern at fl 11.0.
20:45.. Eastern 512.
20:52… Eastern 512, New York your EAC (Expect approach Clearance) is 22:07
Eastern 512 Roger, EAC at 22:07
20:57… Eastern 512, hold at Sandy hook, right turns, and expect indefinite delay due to weather, Aircraft are landing on runway 22L.
Shortly after this transmission all traffic was changed to 4R.
21:02 … Hello Company, 512 requests Idlewild weather.
21:02 . ..512 Idlewild visibility was….now one mile. EAL Flight 330 missed approach runway 22.
21:07…NYARTCC…All aircraft this frequency inbound Idlewild, the latest weather time 0205 (2105 EST), partial obscuration; a mile and, a half with fog; landing runway four right, RVR inoperative."
21:09… Eastern 512..New York..your revised EAC now 21:40..
Eastern 512, EAC 21:40.
21:10… Company 512,, we are coming up on Sandy Hook, have an expected approach clearance time of 40 minutes after the hour, altitude 9,000 feet, and understand the visibility is now one and a half miles..
21:12…Company 512, request Idlewild landing information.
21:13…512, The Idlewild pressure altitude is 9640, Idlewild altimeter is 30.30
512, roger our field pressure is 30.31
APPROACH CHART FOR RNWY 4 AT THE TIME OF ACCIDENT.
It should be noted here that five weather observations were recorded by the observer on duty at the Idlewild Weather Bureau office between 2108 and 2153. During that period, the official visibility 4/ for Idlewild was that "prevailing visibility" observed by the FAA controllers 5/ located in the tower cab. 6/ Control tower operators are required to maintain a log of their observations of visibility. There is no documentary evidence that such log was maintained on the evening of November 30 in the Idlewild tower. There was, however, a Weather Bureau record 7/ of both prevailing visibility and surface visibility 8/ at Idlewild during the evening of November 30.
21:24.. Eastern 512, NYARTCC…contact Idlewild Approach Control on 119.7
119.7 Eastern 512
21:25 ...Idlewild Approach, EAL 512 in Sandy Hook holding pattern.
Eastern 512, Idlewild Approach..four right IlS in use, landing runway 4R..Wind calm, The Idlewild weather, sky partially obscured, visibility 1-1/2 miles with fog. Altimeter setting: three zero three one. Precision Approach Radar not available. Middle marker, middle locator, Runway Four Right inoperative; Runway visual range Four Right inoperative."
At this same time, EAL Flight 620, a turbojet aircraft, landed on runway 4R at Idlewild, Shortly
21:27…Idlewild Approach, United 500, (A DC-6) making a missed approach on 4R, That stuff is no more than fifty feet thick and is really thick.
21:28… United 500 , Idlewild Approach,,Were almost on top of it here in the seventh floor, we can hardly see the ground…Good old fashioned ground fog..
At the time of this conversation another United 712 a Turbo jet landed on 4R.
21:30…This is Idlewild Approach… All aircraft copy. Runway Four Fight ILS in use. Landing Four Right Wind northeast six, altimeter three zero three one. Idlewild weather, sky partially obscured, visibility is one and one half miles with ground fog, and, just got out new visibility, its one mile now. One mile with ground fog Runway visual range four right inoperative. Middle locator Four Right inoperative, and Precision Approach Radar not available.
21:32.. Following this transmission, American Airlines Flight 996, a turbojet aircraft, landed on runway 4R
21:33. Eastern 512, Idlewild Approach, descend and maintain 6,000 feet. Radar vectors to ILS final approach. (vectors not given)
21:34.. Idlewild Approach … sky partially obscured; visibility one mile with ground fog; and wind is northeast at six, altimeter setting 30.31.
2134,…American Airlines Flight 910, a turbojet aircraft, landed on runway 4R.
21:37…TWA 46, a turbojet lands on runway 4R
21:39:11..Eastern 512, Idlewild, you are nine miles southwest of the ILS outer marker, contact tower on 119.1
21:39:59.. Idlewild Approach Approach Control gave a new weather broadcast of 3/4 mile visibility in ground fog on frequency 119.7
2139,…UAL Flight 950,at DC-7 aircraft, landed on runway 4R. This landing was described by Captain L. W. Witlow as: "Just after my First Officer . . . reported to IDL approach control the IDL 4R LOM (outer marker) inbound he remarked 'I can see the glow of the approach lights', shortly thereafter he remarked 'I can see the approach lights but not the runway'. I then looked out and observed the full line of approach lights and the runway lights on the approach end. From that point on, I made a visual approach referring to my ILS instrument so as to stay on the glide slope, which I did until I was definitely over the runway.'
21:41… Eastern 512 is approaching the OM, while United Flight 164 was landing on 4R. The captain of UAL 164 described his landing as follows: "Either at or shortly after passing the outer marker the glow of the approach lights was visible through the fog . . . The flight was, until this point, made in clear air with clear skies above Lights were clearly visible either on or very near the airport. Prior to reaching the middle marker, the threshold lights were observed . . . Landing was effected at 2141 EST in visibility that I would judge to be somewhat less than 3/4 mile. An accurate appraisal of visibility during the last 20 feet before touchdown was virtually impossible due to the brilliance of the runway lighting." At approximately this time, a Sabena turbojet aircraft, located on the ground at Idlewild one mile northwest of the threshold of runway 4R, was cleared for takeoff on runway 7R. The Sabena crew informed the control tower on VHF radio frequency 119.1 that visibility was ". . . a bit too poor . . ." and, requested a delay.
21:42.. Idlewild Tower Eastern 512 just passed the Outer Marker.
Eastern 512 Idlewild Tower ...the condenser discharge sequenced flashing lights in the approach light system are being turned on let us know if you want them off.
21:43… Eastern 512.. Idlewild Tower, you are cleared to land.
EAL 512.. Ok, please dim the flasher.
Tower.. Roger, I have to shut them off.
This was the last communication with Eastern 512.
21:44 EAL Flight 406, a Electra turboprop aircraft, was immediately preceding Flight 512 in the landing traffic for runway 4R. EAL 406 landed on 4R. The captain of EAL 406 indicated that approaching the airport the sky was clear and the approach lights could be seen prior to the outer marker. After passing the outer marker he lost the lights temporarily, but they became visible again before the middle marker. From this point, the run-way and threshold lights were also visible; however, fog described as variable, was encountered. He stated that ". . . after landing, we ran into very thick fog at the northeast end of the runway causing a little delay in clearing at the end."
The crew of EAL 512 did not report the runway in sight passing the middle marker, a required report. Two tower controllers observed the red rotating beacon light on the aircraft disappear in a fog condition 1/2 mile from the end, of runway 4R
21:44… EAL 512 Idlewild Tower advise when it was clear of runway 4R. There was no response.
21:45… Idlewild Tower…American 8, passing the outer marker, Tower. . we got a bright light ahead of us, appears near the airport - you got any information?"
21:46…American 8 ..Idlewild Tower overfly the runway and report while over the runway, 21:46…Tower….American 8. . . Runway four right appears to be clear, we got a fire in sight down there . . . to the left of the runway.
EAL 512 crashed approximately 2,500 feet beyond the ILS touchdown point 9/ on the left side of runway 4R at 2145. After the accident, at 2150, a weather observation was recorded with " . . . visibility 3/4. mile in fog . . . surface visibility 1/8 mile." The landing minimums for EAL 512 were 200 feet ceiling and 1/2 mile visibility. The "surface visibility" observations of the Weather Bureau were not communicated by the FAA tower personnel to EAL 512 on any recorded communications frequency. Tower personnel stated that the Weather Bureau observations for the period 2108 to 2150 were not received by them. The Weather Bureau observer at Idlewild did not recall specifically advising any person in the control tower of the "surface visibility." He said: "I do not remember sending out any observation. The only thing I can say is I do not remember not sending out any observations."
The first impact marks made by the aircraft were slashes from the Nos. 1 and 2 propellers. These marks were located 3,460 feet from the threshold center of runway 4R, on a bearing of 37 degrees. Computations based on reed cuts and propeller slashes indicate a flight path impact angle of 2 degrees-with a 6-degree bark to the left and an airspeed of 135 knots. A splash mark from the tail-skid, commencing 50 feet before the main impact, indicated an aircraft attitude of 3 to 5 degrees nose high.
Breakup of the wings and fuselage occurred on a mound of earth approximately 3 feet high, located 3,600 feet from the threshold center of runway 4R, on a bearing of 37 degrees. The left wing failed near the wing root, between the Nos. 1 and 2 engine nacelles, and at the tip. The left wing fuel tanks ruptured, resulting in ground fire which burned a large area just beyond the mound. The right wing separated at the wing root with portions of the upper and lower fuselage skin fairing and structure still attached.
The aircraft fuselage separated at impact in the vicinity of the aft wing spar with the forward portion coming to rest 90 degrees to the wreckage path. This break occurred approximately at the cabin partition between the forward tourist and aft first-class sections. All survivors, 6 tourist, 18 first-class passengers and 2 stewardesses, exited through the main passenger door, aft emergency exit door or windows, or through breaks in the fuselage. They reported seeing fire from the wings immediately on impact, followed by fire inside the cabin a few seconds later. As a result of this fire both stewardesses, who had been seated in the aft lounge, were unable to see forward of the galley area by the main loading door.
The nose landing gear was separated from the aircraft; the actuating cylinder indicated it was fully up at impact. The main landing gear was found in the retracted position. There were no landing gear gouge marks along the wreckage swath. All three landing gears on the DC-7 retract in the forward direction, and retraction time is about 7 seconds.
The flap-actuating cylinders indicated the left flap was set at approximately 20 degrees or "takeoff" position at impact. The right flap actuating cylinders corresponded to an approximate setting of 10 degrees. Examination of the flap actuator on the flight deck indicated a 20-degree flap position had been selected at impact. The right flap bus cable turn-buckle was found broken; however, a laboratory examination revealed that this break could only occur to this type of brass when under a tension load, at a very high temperature. Wing flap control valve cable continuity could not be traced to the cockpit controls because of fire damage.
All four engines received considerable impact damage, with various components being torn loose or broken away. Examination of the engines revealed no evidence to indicate pre-impact failure, operational distress or malfunction. Tests of the propeller governors revealed that engine speeds for Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 had been 2,474, 2,445, 2,463, and 2,422 r.p.m., respectively. Propeller shim plate markings indicate blade angles at impact were 37, 37, 36, and 38 degrees, respectively, for the Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 propellers. At impact, the approximate horsepowers being produced by engines Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 2035, 1950, 1993, and 1890, respectively. Normal engine horsepower for a landing approach is approximately 1,000 horsepower per engine.
A few hours after the accident, at 0245 on December 1, 1962, the FAA made a flight check of the complete ILS serving runway 4R. This check disclosed that the front course of the localizer, glide slope, and markers were operable and within required tolerances at that time. A further check was conducted on December 4, 1962. The purpose of this flight was to determine whether or not Lockheed Electra L-188 on the instrument runway, or taxing near the localizer antenna, would affect the presentation of instruments in an aircraft making an approach. Three approaches were made under these conditions and no abnormalities were noted in the localizer course from over the outer marker to the runway threshold. The latter test was prompted by concern that an Electra, which had, landed approximately one minute before Flight 512, might have interfered with localizer signals.
Eastern Air Lines FAA-approved DC-7B Flight Manual describes the go-around procedure with four engines operating as follows:
Captain applies or calls for power as required usually METO. NOTE: At airspeeds expected at the start of a go-around, the use of T.O. r.p.m. and power not normally needed. If go-around from balked landing is made with full flaps and gear down and speed reduced to approximately minimum landing, T.O. power and. r.p.m. may be necessary.
Wing flaps - TAKEOFF position.
Landing Gear - UP.
Normal CLIMB POWER after landing gear is UP.
Wing flaps may be left at TAKEOFF position or retracted at captains discretion."
The chief pilot of the Douglas Aircraft Company was questioned about the DC-7 performance and acceleration characteristics in various configurations. He stated that power application as low as 2,100 to 2,200 horsepower per engine, instead of METO, at the start of a go-around in the landing configuration, would, produce a low rate of climb initially, and a slower transition to a climb. There would be no tendency for the aircraft to roll or yaw if all engines are accelerated evenly. He further stated that with a gross weight of approximately 96,000 pounds and "Using the landing configuration of gear down, flaps full and using all four engines at takeoff power, the angle of climb for a speed of 115 knots would be approximately 3 degrees. That's the noseup, and that would be using the airplane fuselage as the reference line on the horizon . . . at the same configuration, speed at 135 knots the angle would be 2 degrees. For configuration of flaps 20 degrees, and the gear up, using all four engines at takeoff power, the angle with 115 knots would be 9 degrees noseup, and 135 knots would be 8 degrees noseup." If less than takeoff power were used, in the 2100 or 2200 horsepower per engine range, ". . the angle would be slightly less."
He also stated that with a gross weight of 96,000 pounds, brake horse-power of 2,250 and 2,600 r.p.m. at sea level on a standard day the aircraft would accelerate at a rate of approximately 2 knots per second. Placing the flaps at 20 degrees, 40 degrees, and finally at 50 degrees flaps and gear down the acceleration would drop to approximately 1.52, 1, and. slightly less than 1 knot per second, respectively. He further stated that using an airspeed of approximately 115 knots, at maximum landing weight, "There would be no problem at all to pull it up and rotate it . . . into . . a balk-landing climb."
The investigation revealed no evidence of control system, powerplant, or structural failure. The forces to which the aircraft was subjected when it struck the mound of earth near the point of initial impact, undoubtedly contributed to the extensive breakup of the structure.
The system of weather observation and reporting as it concerned the flight deserve special attention. The U. S. Weather Bureau, the Federal Aviation Agency tower controllers, and the Eastern Air Lines dispatch organization each had, duties relating to weather observation and reporting. The system placed the initial responsibility on the Weather Bureau to observe and record the weather information. Since the official Idlewild, visibility was less than four miles, the responsibility for taking visibility observations was assumed by the FAA tower controllers. There was an exception in the rules which provided that the responsibility for taking official visibility observations would revert from the tower to the Weather Bureau, when the tower was above the top of the phenomena. However, during the period with which this report is concerned, the tower was observing restricted visibilities which indicated that the top of the phenomena was, in fact, above the tower. The FAA tower controllers furnish meteorological information to aircraft in flight, particularly in the terminal area. The prime responsibility for furnishing significant weather information to EAL 512 while en route was a duty of the Eastern Air Lines dispatcher.
The information furnished to EAL 512 did indicate that the weather situation at Idlewild was deteriorating. These reports included notification of indefinite delays due to weather; alternate airport information; that company traffic missed an approach and that the visibility was one mile when the flight departed Sandy Hook holding pattern. The information contained in the remarks section of the Weather Bureau observations which indicated that the "surface visibilities" were less than the reported official visibility were not furnished to the crew of EAL 512. Further, the Approach control broadcast of the 2136 special observation, which included "visibility 3/4 mile in ground fog" was made at 2139:59, or after EAL 512 had been instructed to change to tower frequency.
Owing to the vertical and horizontal separation of the tower cab from the approach end of runway 4R, the tower visibility observation was not representative of the condition along the runway. However, since the tower RVR was considered inoperative, the governing visibility factor applicable to landing minimums of 1/2 mile visibility was that observed by the tower controller. It was on this basis that the airport remained "above minimums" while EAL 512 attempted an approach.
There were two indications of poor visibility which the crew of EAL 512 should have heard during their approach. The crew of an aircraft clearing the runway reported experiencing visibility of 50-60 feet. In addition, the jet flight awaiting departure from runway 7R requested a takeoff delay for weather improvement. These transmissions all took place on tower frequency, which EAL 512 had been instructed to monitor shortly prior thereto. However, if the crew of EAL 512 was aware of these reports, the knowledge that company traffic bad landed immediately ahead of them, at 2144, could have offset any apprehension they may have had regarding the successful completion of their approach.
Since the captain of EAL 406, which landed immediately ahead of EAL 512, stated that he saw the approach, runway, and threshold lights from the middle marker, and since the pilot of EAL 512 requested that the "flashers" be dimmed, it is presumed that he was encountering similar weather conditions. During the approach, EAL 512 should have been at 197 feet above the field elevation over the middle marker. A decision must have been made at this point either to complete the approach or go around. Although the transcript of recorded communications did not reflect passage of the middle marker or the captain's intention at that tine, it is concluded from the testimony of surviving passengers that the captain elected to continue his approach and effect a landing. From the middle marker-to the runway threshold, altitude and airspeed were reduced in preparation for the landing. As the aircraft continued to descend, a rapid deterioration of visual reference was encountered in thick fog. This fog was similar to that observed by crews awaiting takeoff on runway 7R, and by crews that landed on runway 4R. When visual reference was lost, the pilot elected to go around.
Attached to this report is a drawing depicting the probable flight profile of EAL 512 which indicates that:
The aircraft was on the glide path at the middle marker with its gear down, flaps at 30 degrees, airspeed at 130 knots, descending at 574. feet per minute and a constant power of 100 BMEP at 2,450 r.p.m., or 1,040 brake horsepower per engine.
2. As the runway threshold was approached, flap extension from 30 degrees to 40 degrees was initiated at an altitude of approximately 75 to 80 feet. The extension of flaps from 30 decrees to 40 degrees required 2 seconds, during which time the aircraft decelerated approximately 1 knot to 129 knots. A slight deviation above the glide slope occurred when the crew, seeing the threshold and some of the runway lights, began to execute a visual approach.
3. After crossing the threshold, the aircraft continued along a flightpath of 1-1/2 degrees slope downward and about 6 degrees to the left of the runway heading for 8-3/4 seconds. During this period, there was a rapid deterioration of visual reference when thick ground, fog was encountered. At the end of this period, the aircraft had decelerated to a speed of 124-1/2 knots and had descended to an altitude of approximately 25 feet above the ground. After perceiving the fog and evaluating the situation, the crew of EAL 512 elected to abandon the approach. Without increasing the r.p.m., slightly more than climb power was applied, and the landing gear was retracted coincident with retraction of the flaps to 20 degrees. The nose of the aircraft was rotated upwards to between 3 to 5 degrees above the level position. The missed approach procedure was initiated about 1,000 feet beyond the ILS touchdown point, to the left of the runway, altitude about 25 feet.
Execution of the missed approach procedure by the crew of EAL 512 necessitated a transition to instrument reference due to the loss o visual reference. This had to be accomplished at an extremely low altitude. There was little time or margin for error if the maneuver was to be successfully accomplished.
The DC-7B aircraft in the landing configuration can be transitioned from the landing attitude to a climb without loss of altitude. In order to accomplish this, takeoff power, or even climb power, with aircraft rotation to approximately a 3-degree noseup attitude is required. The retraction of flaps to 20 degrees during such a transition requires an aircraft rotation to approximately to a 9 degree noseup attitude, in order to compensate for the loss of lift as the flaps are retracted. Surviving passengers did not experience the pronounced charge in altitude which would have resulted from aircraft rotation to 9 degrees noseup during the crew's execution of the missed approach. The ground impact splash from the tail skid confirmed a 3-to 5-degree noseup attitude.
The amount of power application and, the degree of aircraft rotation used by the crew of EAL 512 should have been adequate to accomplish the pull-out, had, the flaps and gear remained extended. However, inasmuch as flap and gear retraction was effected prior to establishing a positive rate of climb, either one of two actions by the crew would have precluded the aircraft settling into the ground:
1. Additional aircraft rotation, commensurate with the power utilized.
2. Use of the remaining power available.
The Board concludes that additional aircraft rotation was not effected due to a lack of immediate instrument orientation, and that additional power was either not requested, or delayed because of other duties.
The Board determines the probable cause of this accident was the technique employed by the crew during abandonment of the approach under fog conditions not adequately reported.
Following this accident the Board sent recommendations to the Federal Aviation Agency and the United States Weather Bureau. These recommendations and the responses thereto were as follows:
1. It was recommended that the Air Traffic Control procedures require the transmission of all operationally significant weather information in terminal areas to approaching aircraft. The FAA, by letter dated January 8, 1963, stated that the necessary procedural changes were being prepared.
2. It was recommended that the RVR instrumentation in the recently commissioned IFR room of the Idlewild tower was inadequate. Also, the Board requested a study of the physical arrangements in all towers where PAR is installed. On January 11, 1963, the FAA stated that corrective action was being taken and that a new program would permit installation of five RVR indicators in a tower facility.
3. It was recommended that an alternate method be developed to determine runway visibility when the RVR is inoperative. This was to be accomplished by utilizing runway observers, certificated by the Weather Bureau. On January 14, 1963, the FAA stated that this procedure would be implemented on a trial basis in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Weather Bureau indicated concurrence with the recommendation on January 8, 1963.
4. The Weather Bureau, was informed that the staffing plan of the Weather Bureau Airport Station at Idlewild was inadequate to maintain proper surveillance of all the weather recording devices available. On January 8, 1963, the Weather Bureau indicated, that corrective action would be taken.
5. It was recommended that the Weather Bureau amend their methods of observing and, reporting prevailing weather when "partial obscurations" are present. The Weather Bureau indicated concurrence with this recommendation on January 8, 1963.
6. The FAA was informed that there was a period of time on the evening of this accident when no record of tower visibility observations was retained. It was recommended that the responsible activities should be recording and reporting the same values of visibilities at all times and that there should be a written record of all tower visibility observations, on February 4, 1963, the FAA stated that operations procedures were being developed to accomplish this end.
7. It was recommended that the "Remarks" portion of weather reports be broadcast to aircraft. The FAA informed the Board that a priority project had been initiated to standardize the transmission of weather information from ATC facilities to airmen in flight.
BY THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD:
/s/ ALAN S. BOYD
Saturday, June 26, 2010
CAPTURED THESE PHOTOS OF THE CANADIAN LANCASTER AT THE WORLD WAR 2 WEEKEND AT THE READING AIRPORT, PENNSYLVANIA.
WHAT A GREAT OLD BIRD WAS THRILLED TO GET TO CRAWL AROUND HER.
Specifications (Lancaster Mk I):
Engines: Four 1,460 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin XX inline piston engines.
Weight: Empty 36,900 lbs, Maximum Takeoff 68,000 lbs.
Wingspan: 102 ft 0 in.
Length 69 ft 6 in.
Height: 20 ft 0 in.
Maximum Speed at 12,000 ft: 287 mph
Service Ceiling: 24,500 ft
Range with 14,000 pound load: 1,660 miles
Two 0.303-inch (7.7mm) guns in nose, ventral and dorsal turrets.
Four 0.303-inch (7.7mm) guns in tail turret.
Fourteen 1,000 pound bombs.
BOMB AIMER POSITION
PILOT POSITION..NOTICE TWO YOKES
ENGINEERS PANEL RIGHT SIDE