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Date:Friday 17 February 1956
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas R5D-2 (DC-4)
Operator:United States Navy
Registration: 39116
MSN: 18331
First flight: 1944
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 35 / Occupants: 35
Total:Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:5,6 km (3.5 mls) N of Niles, CA (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Departure airport:Santa Ana-El Toro MCAS, CA (NZJ/KNZJ), United States of America
Destination airport:Alameda NAS, CA (NGZ/KNGZ), United States of America
After circling for 30 minutes, the pilot contacted Oakland Municipal Airport, reporting that he was on his approach to Alameda NAS. While flying in low overcast and drizzling rain, the Navy plane flew up a steep canyon, skimmed over one ridge and then slammed into Sunol Ridge at the 1300 feet level.

Probable Cause:

A subsequent Marine board of inquiry into the cause of the crash placed the blame on the flight crew’s deviation from the prescribed holding pattern, departure from the radio beacon, and making their descent in a unprescribed manner.

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

» Notable California Aviation Disasters


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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 Santa Ana-El Toro MCAS, CA to Alameda NAS, CA as the crow flies is 612 km (383 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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-4

  • 1242 built
  • 195th loss
  • 114th fatal accident
  • 16th worst accident (at the time)
  • 29th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 17th worst accident (at the time)
  • 83rd worst accident (currently)
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