Tag Archives: Airliner

21 January 1976

British Airways' Concorde G-BOAA departing Heathrow, 11:40 a.m., 21 January 1976. (Adrian Meredith/British Airways)
British Airways’ Concorde G-BOAA departing Heathrow, 11:40 a.m., 21 January 1976. (Adrian Meredith/British Airways)

21 January 1976: The first scheduled supersonic passenger airliners, British Airways’ Concorde G-BOAA and Air France’ Concorde F-BVFA, took off simultaneously at 11:40 a.m. G-BOAA departed London Heathrow enroute Bahrain, and F-BVFA departed Paris enroute Rio de Janero, with a stop at Dakar.

British Airways' Concorde G-BOAA. (Unattributed)
British Airways’ Concorde G-BOAA. (Unattributed)

The British Airways’ flight, using call sign “Speedbird Concorde,” was crewed by Captain Norman Victor Todd, Captain Brian James Calvert and Flight Engineer John Lidiard. Chief Test Pilot Ernest Brian Trubshaw, CBE, MVO, was also aboard.

G-BOAA arrived on time at 15:20. F-BVFA, after a delay at Dakar, arrived at Rio de Janeiro at 19:00.

Four British Airways Concorde supersonic airliners in formation flight. (British Airways)
Four British Airways Concorde supersonic airliners in formation flight. (British Airways)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 January 1932

Imperial Airways' Handley Page H.P. 42E, G-AAXF, Helena, in flight. (San Diego Air and Space Museum)
Imperial Airways’ Handley Page HP.42, G-AAXF, Helena, in flight. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)
Imperial Airways "Speedbird" logo,from a baggage lable, ca. 1933
Imperial Airways “Speedbird” logo, from a baggage label, 1933

20 January 1932: Imperial Airways’ Handley Page HP.42, G-AAXF, named Helena, departed Croydon Aerodrome, South London, England, on the first leg of the airline’s new transcontinental mail service to South Africa. The flights would leave Croydon at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday and arrive at Cape Town on Friday, ten days later.

The route was London, Cairo, Khartoum, Juba, Nairobi, Mbeya, Salisbury, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The initial flights carried mail only, but scheduled passenger service was soon added. The cost of the flight from London to Cape Town was £130.

‘ON wednesday, Jan. 20, the first load of mails left Croydon for Cape town and intermediate stations by Imperial Airways service. Our two maps show the route which will be followed, the stages for each day and the types of aircraft used on each section.” —FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer and Airships, No. 1204, Vol. XXIV. No. 4, 22 January 1932 at Page 74

The HP.42 was a large four-engine biplane built by Handley Page Limited, Hertfordshire, for Imperial Airlines’ long-distance routes. There were two models, the HP.42, for the eastern routes to India and Africa, and the HP.45 for the western flight. (Imperial Airways designated them as “H.P. 42E” and “H.P. 45W.”) The HP.42 could carry 20 passengers and a large amount of baggage. The HP. 45 could carry up to 38 passengers, but less baggage. The variants used different engines. Two of the HP.45 variant, of which Helena was one, were converted to the HP.42 configuration.

Imperial Airways' Handley Page H.P. 42 G-AAXF, Helena, at Gaza. (Library of Congress)
Imperial Airways’ Handley Page H.P. 42 G-AAXF, Helena, at Gaza. (Library of Congress)

The HP.42 was operated by a flight crew of four and could carry six passengers in a forward compartment and twelve aft. The airliner was 89 feet, 9 inches (27.356 meters) long. The upper wing had a span of 130 feet (39.624 meters). The overall height of the airplane was 27 feet (8.230 meters). The empty weight was 17,740 pounds (8,047 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight was 28,000 pounds (12,701 kilograms.)

The HP.42 was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged 1,752.788-cubic-inch-displacement (28.723 liter) Bristol Jupiter XI F 9-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 5:1, which had a normal power rating of 460 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m., and produced a maximum of 510 horsepower at 2,250 r.p.m., each. Two engines were mounted in nacelles between the upper and lower wings, and two were mounted on the lower wing. All four engines were left-hand tractors, driving four-bladed propellers through a 2:1 gear reduction. The Jupiter XI weighed 880 pounds (399 kilograms).

The HP.42 had a cruise speed of 96 miles per hour (155 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed was 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). Its range was 500 miles (805 kilometers).

Imperial Airways' Handley Page H.P. 45, G-AAXF, Helena, being moved by a ground crew. (State Library of New South Wales)
Imperial Airways’ Handley Page H.P. 45, G-AAXF, Helena, being moved by a ground crew. (State Library of New South Wales)

During ten years of operation, no lives had been lost on an H.P. 42, a record believed unique in civil aviation. Several aircraft were placed in service with the Royal Air Force at the beginning of World War II. Helena was damaged in a hard landing, and after inspection, was scrapped. By 1941, all H.P. 42s had been destroyed.

An advertisement for Imperial Airways from the Illustrated London news, 2 July 1932, at Page 27.
An advertisement for Imperial Airways from the Illustrated London news, 2 July 1932, at Page 27.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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16 January 1942

Transcontinental and Western Air Douglas DC-3 NC1945, sistership of NC1946, TWA Flight 3. (TWA)
Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc., Douglas DC-3-362 NC1945, sistership of NC1946, TWA Flight 3. The airplane in this photograph is in the collection of the Airline History Museum, Kansas City, Missouri.(TWA)

16  January 1942: Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc., Flight 3, was a transcontinental passenger flight enroute to Los Angeles, California from New York City.

The airplane was a Douglas DC-3-362, registered NC1946.

The pilot in command was Captain Wayne C. Williams, an 11-year employee of T&WA. He had 12,204 hours total flight time with more than 3,500 hours in DC-3s. He had flown 204 hours at night within the previous six months. The co-pilot was S. Morgan Gillette, who had been with T&WA for a little less that 1 year, 6 months. He had 1,330 hours of flight time with 650 in DC-3s.

Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc., DC-3 NC1944. (Nelson Ronsheim)

After a refueling stop at Las Vegas Airport, the airliner departed at 7:07 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, on the final leg of the flight to the Lockheed Air Terminal at  Burbank, California (officially, the Bob Hope Airport, but now known Hollywood Burbank Airport). It was dark, but the weather was clear. Because of wartime regulations, the lighted airway beacons on the route had been extinguished.

At 7:20 p.m., PST, Flight 3 crashed into a vertical cliff face on Potosi Mountain, an 8,517-foot (2,596 meters) mountain 32 miles (51.5 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The DC-3 was completely destroyed and all 22 persons aboard were killed, including actress Carole Lombard, Mrs. Clark Gable.

In planning the flight, the crew had made an error in the compass course for this leg of the flight. Their written flight plan, filed with the airline’s operations department, indicated a compass course of 218° which took them directly to the mountain.

Carole Lombard (6 October 1908–16 January 1942)
Carole Lombard (Paramount Studios)

Carole Lombard (née Jane Alice Peters) was one of the most successful motion picture actresses in Hollywood. She was born at Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1908, and had her first motion picture role in 1921. At age 16, she was under contract to the Fox Film Corporation and as was customary, was given a more dramatic name. She was primarily a comedic actress though she also had several dramatic roles.

Lombard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in “My Man Godfrey” which starred William Powell, to whom she was married 1931–1933. In 1938, Lombard married actor Clark Gable.

Carole Lombard had been on a War Bonds tour and was returning home to Hollywood. She was seated in an aisle seat in the third row, next to a U.S. Army private. Her mother, Elizabeth Peters, was seated directly across the aisle.

Transcontinental and Western Flight 3 crash site
Scene of the crash of Transcontinental and Western Flight 3 on Petosi Mountain, Nevada. The point of impact was at an elevation of 7,770 feet (2,368 meters). (Bettman Archive via Lost Flights)
Crash site, T&WA Flight 3 on Petosi Mountain, Nevada.
Rescue/recovery team at the crash site of T&WA Flight 3 on Petosi Mountain, Nevada, 18 January 1942. (Civil Aeronautics Authority, Bureau of Aviation Safety)
TWA Flight 3 crashed on this vertical face of Mount Potosi, Nevada, 16 January 1942, killing all on board. (Harlan Stockman)
TWA Flight 3 crashed on this vertical face of Potosi Mountain, Nevada, 16 January 1942, killing all on board. (Harlan Stockman)

NC1946 was a DC-3-362, c/n 3295, built in February 1941 for Transcontinental and Western Air by the Douglas Aircraft Company at Santa Monica, California. It was an all-metal, twin-engine civil transport with retractable landing gear. The airplane was operated by a pilot and co-pilot and could carry up to 21 passengers.

The DC-3-362 was 64 feet, 5 inches (19.634 meters) long with a wingspan of 95 feet (28.956 meters). It was 16 feet, 11 inches (5.156 meters) high. The airplane weighed approximately 18,000 pounds (8,165 kilograms) empty and had a gross weight of 25,200 pounds (11,431 kilograms).

NC1946 was powered by two air-cooled, supercharged 1,823.129-cubic-inch-displacement (29.875 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 9 GR-1820G202A nine-cylinder radial engines with compression ratio of 6.7:1. These engines had a Normal Power rating of 1,100 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m., and 1,200 horsepower at 2,500 r.p.m. for Takeoff, burning 91/96 octane aviation gasoline. They drove three-bladed, constant-speed, full-feathering Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propellers through a 0.5625:1 gear reduction. The GR-1820G202A was 4 feet, 2.04 inches (1.271 meters) long, 4 feet, 7.10 inches (1.400 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,310 pounds (594 kilograms).

The DC-3  had a cruise speed of 150 miles per hour (241 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 237 miles per hour (381 kilometers per hour) at 8,500 feet (2,591 meters). The airplane had a service ceiling 24,000 feet (7,315 meters), and its range was 1,025 miles (1,650 kilometers).

The Douglas DC-3 was in production for 11 years with 10,655 civil and C-47 military airplanes built, and another 5,000 license-built copies. Over 400 are still in commercial service.

Petosi Mountain, looking west. (Detail from photograph by Stan Shebs)
Petosi Mountain, looking west. (Detail from photograph by Stan Shebs)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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13 January 1982

Air Florida's Boeing 737-222 N62AF, photographed at JFK, 11 April 1981. © Howard Chaloner. Photograph used with permission.
Air Florida’s Boeing 737-222 N62AF, photographed at JFK, 11 April 1981. © Howard Chaloner. Photograph used with permission.

13 January 1982: At 3:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (20:59 UTC), Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737-222, registration N62AF, s/n 19556, began its takeoff roll at Washington National Airport (DCA). The airliner, with a flight crew of two and three cabin attendants, carried 74 passengers enroute Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with an intermediate stop at Tampa.

The departure was delayed 1 hour, 45 minutes when the airport closed due to a snowstorm. When the airport reopened, heavy snow was still falling.

Snow and ice had accumulated on the airliner’s wings and fuselage. The airplane had previously been de-iced but the flight crew elected not to repeat the procedure. Further, they did not activate the engine deicing system.

During the takeoff the engines were slow to accelerate and the airplane took much longer than normal to gain flight speed. Though it did become airborne, the 737 reached an altitude of just 352 feet (107 meters) when it stalled and struck the 14th Street Bridge, and then crashed into the Potomac River.

The airliner broke through the ice covering the river and sank. There were only five survivors.

Eagle 1, a Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger II of the U.S. Park Police, hovers over the Potomac River to rescue survivors. (Charles Pereira, U.S. Park Police)
Eagle 1, a Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger II of the U.S. Park Police, hovers over the Potomac River to rescue survivors. (Charles Pereira, U.S. Park Police)

In addition to those who died aboard the 737, four persons on the 14th Street Bridge were killed when the airliner struck their cars.

Many people who witnessed the crash tried to help the survivors by going in to the freezing water to reach them.

The U.S. Park Police responded with a 1979 Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II helicopter, Eagle 1, (N22PP, serial number 45287) flown by Officers Donald W. Usher and Melvin E. Windsor. The pilot, Don Usher, hovered low, sometimes with the skids of the helicopter in the water, while Gene Windsor tried to reach the survivors.

Officer M.E. Windsor stands on the skids of the Bell 206L-1 and holds on to a survivor of Flight 90, 13 January 1982. (UPI)
Officer M.E. Windsor stands on the right skid of the Bell 206L-1 and holds on to a survivor of Flight 90, 13 January 1982. (UPI)

A passenger in the water,  Arland D. Williams, Jr., twice caught lines that had been lowered from the helicopter, but in both cases, he passed them to others in the water:

Arland D. Williams, Jr. 1935–1982 (Image from Nick Falkner, WordPress)
Arland D. Williams, Jr., 1935–1982. (Image from Nick Falkner, WordPress)

“He was about 50 years old, one of half a dozen survivors clinging to twisted wreckage bobbing in the icy Potomac when the first helicopter arrived. To the copter’s two-man Park Police crew he seemed the most alert. Life vests were dropped, then a flotation ball. The man passed them to the others. On two occasions, the crew recalled last night, he handed away a lifeline from the hovering machine that could have dragged him to safety. The helicopter crew who rescued five people, the only persons who survived from the jetliner, lifted a woman to the riverbank, then dragged three more persons across the ice to safety. Then the lifeline saved a woman who was trying to swim away from the sinking wreckage and the helicopter pilot, Donald W. Usher, returned to the scene but the man was gone.”

— “A Hero – Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies.” The Washington Post, January 14, 1982.

“So the man in the water had his own natural powers. He could not make ice storms, or freeze the water until it froze the blood. But he could hand life over to a stranger, and that is a power of nature too. The man in the water pitted himself against an implacable, impersonal enemy; he fought it with charity; and he held it to a standoff. He was the best we can do.”

— Rosenblatt, R., “The Man in the Water,” Time Magazine, January 25, 1982

Probable Cause

          The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flightcrew’s failure to use engine anti-ice during ground operation and takeoff, there decision to takeoff with snow/ice on the airfoil surfaces of the aircraft, and the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff during the early stage when his attention was called to anomalous engine instrument readings. Contributing to the accident were the prolonged ground delay between deicing and the receipt of ATC takeoff clearance during which the airplane was exposed to continual precipitation, the known inherent pitchup characteristics of the B-737 aircraft when the leading edge is contaminated with even small amounts of snow or ice, and the limited experience of the flightcrew in jet transport winter operations.NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT NTSB-AAR-82-8, 10 August 1982, Section 3.2 at Page 82

The National Transportation Safety Board also wrote, “The Safety Board commends the heroic actions of the helicopter pilot and crewman who participated in the rescue effort.”

The Boeing 737-200 series was a short-to-medium range narrow body twin engine civil transport. It had a flight crew of two and could carry a maximum of 136 passengers.

The 737-200 is 100 feet, 2 inches (30.531 meters) long with a wingspan of 93 feet (28.346 meters) and overall height of 36 feet, 10 inches (11.227 meters). Its empty weight is 69,700 pounds (31,615 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight is 115,500 pounds (52,390 kilograms).

The airliner is powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A low-bypass axial-flow turbofan engines, each producing 14,500 pounds of thrust (64.499 kilonewtons) at Sea Level. JT8D-9A was a two-spool engine with a 2-stage fan section, 11-stage compressor (4 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), nine combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). The JT8D-9A was 42.5 inches (1.080 meters) in diameter, 123.5 inches (3.137 meters) long, and weighed 3,196 pounds (1,450 kilograms).

Maximum speed is 0.82 Mach (544 miles per hour/780 kilometers per hour) and the service ceiling is 35,000 feet (10,700 meters).

The 737-200 first flew 8 August 1967. 1,095 –200s were built. The last one in service with an American airline, Aloha Airlines, was retired 21 March 2008.

U.S. PArk Police "Eagle 1", a bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, N22PP, hovers over the bank of the Potomac River, 13 January 1982.
U.S. Park Police helicopter “Eagle 1”, a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, N22PP, hovers over the bank of the Potomac River, 13 January 1982. (Unattributed)

The Bell Helicopter Company Model 206L-1 LongRanger II is a 7-place light helicopter developed from the earlier 5-place Model 206B JetRanger series. It is designed to be flown by a single pilot in the right front seat, and is certified for Visual Flight Rules.

The 206L-1 is 42 feet, 8 inches (13.005 meters) long, overall, and the two-bladed main rotor is semi-rigid and under-slung, a common feature of Bell’s main rotor design. It has a diameter of 37 feet (11.278 meters) and turns counter-clockwise (seen from above) at 394 r.p.m. (100% NR). (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right side.) The rotor blade has a chord of 1 foot, 1.0 inches (0.330 meter) and 11° negative twist. The blade tips are swept.

The two-bladed tail rotor assembly is also semi-rigid and is positioned on the left side of the tail boom in a pusher configuration. It turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is below the axis of rotation.) The tail rotor diameter is 5 feet, 6.0 inches (1.676 meters).

The LongRanger II is powered by an Allison 250-C28B turboshaft engine. This engine produces 500 shaft horsepower but is de-rated to 435 horsepower, the limit of the main transmission. The engine is mounted above the roof of the fuselage, to the rear of the main transmission. Output shafts lead forward to the transmission and aft to the tail rotor 90° gear box. The transmission and rotor mast are mounted angled slightly forward and to the left. This assists in the helicopter’s lift off to a hover, helps to offset its translating tendency, and keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude during cruise flight.

A vertical fin is attached at the aft end of the tail boom. The fin is offset 4° to the right to unload the tail rotor in cruise flight. Fixed horizontal stabilizers with an inverted asymmetric airfoil are attached to the tail boom. In cruise flight, these provide a downward force that keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude. Vertical fins are attached to the outboard ends of the horizontal stabilizers and above the tailboom centerline. The fins are slightly offset to the left and counteract the helicopter’s Dutch roll tendency.

The helicopter has an empty weight of approximately 2,160 pounds (979 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and the maximum gross weight is 4,050 pounds (1,836 kilograms).

The Model 206L LongRanger first flew in 1974 and the 206L-1 LongRanger II variant entered production in 1978. It was replaced several years later by the 206L-3. The LongRanger remains in production as the Model 206L-4.

Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II serial number 45287 was issued an Airworthiness Certificate 17 August 1979. N22PP was transferred to the Department of the Interior, Northwest Region, at Boise, Idaho, in April 1998 and re-registered N613. At Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, 30 October 2000, N613 was substantially damaged when its tail rotor blades failed due to improper manufacturing techniques. (NTSB Report DEN01LA012) The helicopter was repaired and returned to service. Its engine had been upgraded to an Allison 250-C30P. The helicopter’s FAA registration was cancelled 10 October 2014.

Officer Melvin E. ("Gene") Windsor received the U.S. Coast Guard's Silver Lifesaving Medal, the Carnegie Hero Medal and the U.S. Department of the Interior Valor Award. (Vanessa Barnes Hillian/The Washington Post)
Officer Melvin E. (“Gene”) Windsor received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal, the Carnegie Hero Medal and the U.S. Department of the Interior Valor Award. (Vanessa Barnes Hillian/The Washington Post)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 January 1957

The Brooklyn Dodgers' Convair 440 Metropolitan, N1R. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)
The Brooklyn Dodgers’ Convair 440 Metropolitan, N1R. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

4 January 1957: The Brooklyn Dodgers, a major league baseball team owned by Walter O’Malley, became the first professional sports team to own its own airplane when it placed an order for a Convair 440 Metropolitan airliner. The price was $775,000, and the ball club took delivery of serial number 406 in April. The airplane had been added to an existing order for twenty 440s for Eastern Airlines. It varied from Eastern’s only in the installation of an autopilot.

The Dodgers’ pilot was Harry R. “Bump” Holman. He began flying for the team in 1950 as a co-pilot on a Douglas DC-3.

The Dodgers flew the Metroliner until 1961 when it was sold for $700,000 and exported to Spain. The ball club replaced it with a Lockheed L-188A Electra purchased from Western Airlines.

The Convair 440 first flew 6 October 1955. It was an improvement over the earlier CV-240 and CV-340 models. Operated by a flight crew of 2 or 3, it could carry up to 52 passengers in a pressurized cabin.

Convair 440 Metropolitan N1R completion at Covair, San Diego, California. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Catalog # 00054813)
Convair 440 Metropolitan s/n 406 nears completion at the Convair plant, San Diego, California. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

The airliner was 81 feet, 6 inches (24.841 meters) long with a wingspan of 105 feet, 4 inches (32.106 meters) and height of 28 feet, 2 inches (8.585 meters). The empty weight was 33,314 pounds (15,111 kilograms) and maximum gross weight was 49,700 pounds (22,543 kilograms).

The 440 Metropolitan was powered by two 2,804.4-cubic-inch-displacement (45.956 liter), air-cooled, supercharged, Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp CB16 two-row, 18-cylinder radial engines with a compression ration of 6.75:1. Burning 100/130 aviation gasoline, the CB16 had a Normal Power rating of 1,800 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. to 8,500 feet (2,591 meters) and 1,600 horsepower at 2,500 r.p.m. to 16,000 feet (4,877 meters). It was rated at 2,500 horsepower at 2,800 r.p.m. for Takeoff. The engines drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed propellers through a 0.450:1 gear reduction. The CB16 was 6 feet, 9.40 inches (2.068 meters) long, 4 feet, 4.80 inches (1.341 meters) in diameter, and weighed 2,390 pounds (1,084 kilograms).

The Convair 440 metropolitan was equipped with the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16 radial engines and Hamilton Standard propellers. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)
The Convair 440 Metropolitan was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp CB16 radial engines and Hamilton Standard propellers with square blade tips. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

The 440 Metropolitan had a maximum cruise speed of 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour), service ceiling of 24,900 feet (7,590 meters) and maximum range of 1,930 miles (3,106 kilometers). Convair built 199 of the 440 variant.

N1R, s/n 406, received its Airworthiness Certificate 21 March 1957. The FAA registration was cancelled 13 February 1961.

On 24 January 1978, the airplane was being operated by the Transporte Aéreo Militar, a civil transport airline of the Bolivian Air Force, under registration TAM-45. An engine problem forced the crew to return to San Ramon Airport. On landing, the airplane ran off the runway into a ditch and was damaged beyond repair. No one on board was hurt, but one person on the ground was killed.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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