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Accident description
Last updated: 21 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 9 June 1946
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas C-54D-15-DC (DC-4)
Operator:United States Army Air Force - USAAF
Registration: 43-17231
C/n / msn: 22181
First flight: 1945
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 17 / Occupants: 17
Total:Fatalities: 23 / Occupants: 23
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Taboga Island (   Panama)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Military
Departure airport:West Palm Beach-Morrison Field, FL (PBI/KPBI), United States of America
Destination airport:Panama City-Albrook AFB, Panama
Narrative:
A Douglas C-54D aircraft was destroyed when it crashed on Taboga Island, Panama, killing all 23 on board.
The aircraft operated a flight from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Panama City. The pilot had filed an IFR flight plan although he did not posses a valid instrument rating.
Weather at Taboga Island was reported as a ceiling of approximately 750 feet above sea-level, with a visibility of 15 miles. The top 250 feet of Taboga was covered with cloud and visibility was 1/16 mile with light drizzle. While descending towards the destination airport, the airplane struck a mountain slope on Taboga Island.

Probable Cause:

It is the opinion of the members of the Investigating Board that the pilot sighted Otoque Island and mistook it for Taboga and that he was in the vicinity of Otoque Island when he gave his estimated position of 15 miles southeast of the field. It is further believed that when the pilot called the tower and gave his estimated position as 5 miles south offield and at 1000 feet on instruments that he thought he was past Taboga Island, approaching Albrook Field, and that by dropping down a little he would be contact again.
Actually the estimated distance of 10 miles traveled would place him over Taboga from Otoque.

Classification:
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» The Canal Zone Philatelist (Vol. 35, No.4, 1999)


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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from West Palm Beach-Morrison Field, FL to Panama City-Albrook AFB as the crow flies is 1958 km (1224 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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Douglas DC-4

  • 1242+ built
  • 48th loss
  • 20th fatal accident
  • 6th worst accident (at the time)
  • 62nd worst accident (currently)
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 Panama
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 2nd worst accident (currently)
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