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Date:Monday 16 November 1959
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC7 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-7B
Operating for:National Airlines
Leased from:Delta Air Lines
Registration: N4891C
MSN: 45355/922
First flight: 1958
Total airframe hrs:6578
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 36 / Occupants: 36
Total:Fatalities: 42 / Occupants: 42
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:57 km (35.6 mls) E off Pilottown, LA [Gulf of Mexico] (   Atlantic Ocean)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Tampa International Airport, FL (TPA/KTPA), United States of America
Destination airport:New Orleans International Airport, LA (MSY/KMSY), United States of America
Flightnumber: 967
National Airlines Flight 967 took off from Tampa (TPA) at 23:32 for a flight to New Orleans (MSY) at FL140. At 00:55 the aircraft suddenly crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Intensive sea and air searches resulted in finding ten floating bodies and a small amount of floating debris the following morning. The main wreckage has not been located despite several well placed searches.

There is speculation that a con man by the name of Robert Vernon Spears had sabotaged the aircraft. He had taken an air travel policy of $100,000 and gave his ticket to William Allen Taylor, of Tampa, Florida. After the accident, Spears disappeared and was later apprehended in Phoenix, Arizona. He supposedly disappeared to avoid prosecution for abortion.

The Civil Aeronautics Board, with the aid of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), thoroughly investigated Mr. Spears' activities in order to determine whether they might have had a bearing upon the accident. They were unable to find any such relationship.
Mr. Spears died May 2, 1969.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Because of the lack of physical evidence, the probable cause of this accident is unknown."

» ICAO Circular 64-AN/58 (77-79)
» LIFE Magazine 1 Feb 1960


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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 Tampa International Airport, FL to New Orleans International Airport, LA as the crow flies is 779 km (487 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-7

  • 339 built
  • 10th loss
  • 7th fatal accident
  • 5th worst accident (at the time)
  • 9th worst accident (currently)
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 Atlantic Ocean
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