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Date:Thursday 17 October 1946
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas C-47A-20-DK (DC-3)
Operator:National Air Transport Service
Registration: NC38942
MSN: 12971
First flight: 1944
Total airframe hrs:1861
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 10 / Occupants: 10
Total:Fatalities: 13 / Occupants: 13
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Laramie, WY (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Oakland Municipal Airport, CA (OAK/KOAK), United States of America
Destination airport:Cheyenne Airport, WY (CYS/KCYS), United States of America
NATS C-47 registered NC38942 departed Oakland Municipal Airport at 18:42 for a flight to Newark via Cheyenne. Oakland Airway Traffic Control Center authorized instrument flight via Airway Green 3 at an altitude of 11,000 feet to Salt Lake City and 13,000 feet to Cheyenne. At 21:54 Salt Lake ATC instructed the crew to cruise to Cheyenne Airport at 15,000 feet. At that time the weather at Cheyenne was being reported as: ceiling 100 feet, visibility 1/4 mile. By 22:30 the weather at Cheyenne had worsened to a reported zero ceiling and zero visibility. Prior to reaching Laramie the aircraft was cleared from 15,000 feet to 14,000 feet and at 00:05 the flight reported over Laramie. Weather at Laramie was reported ceiling indefinite, 400 feet overcast; visibility 20 miles; light rain. The captain decided to divert to Laramie and he was cleared for an instrument approach. At 00:40 the crew reported outbound on the northwest approach leg preparing for the final instrument approach. By that time visibility had dropped to 2 miles in light snow. Five minutes later the plane passed over the airport at a low altitude. A couple of minutes later the airplane's left wing tip struck the ground while the aircraft was in a left bank of at least 70 degrees, and while dragging along the ground for a distance of approximately 75 feet, the aircraft crashed and disintegrated.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The action of the pilot in maneuvering the aircraft at a dangerously low altitude under extremely adverse weather conditions in an attempt to land. A contributing factor was the negligence of the pilot in planning a flight into an area in which adverse weather conditions were forecast without making adequate provisions for a suitable alternate airport."

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

» CAB File No. 6966-46


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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 Oakland Municipal Airport, CA to Cheyenne Airport, WY as the crow flies is 1530 km (956 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Douglas DC-3

  • ca 13.000 built
  • 2404th loss
  • 756th fatal accident
  • 146th worst accident (at the time)
  • 408th worst accident (currently)
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