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Last updated: 4 December 2021
Date:Monday 20 April 1953
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-6B
Operator:Western Air Lines
Registration: N91303
MSN: 43823/298
First flight: 1952
Total airframe hrs:826
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16
Crew:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 5
Total:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 10
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:San Francisco Bay, CA (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO/KSFO), United States of America
Destination airport:Oakland International Airport, CA (OAK/KOAK), United States of America
Flightnumber: 636
Western Flight 636 was a scheduled flight from Los Angeles to Oakland with an intermediate stop at San Francisco. The DC-6 departed San Francisco's runway 28R at 23:05 for s short VFR flight across the bay to Oakland. The flight was to remain clear of clouds at a minimum altitude of 500 feet.
The crew were cleared to enter the traffic pattern for Oakland's runway 27R, three minutes later. On approach, the aircraft descended into the bay and crashed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The pilot's action in continuing a descent below the 500-foot prescribed minimum altitude until the aircraft struck the water. A probable contributing factor to the aircraft striking the water was the sensory illusion experienced by the pilots."

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Water

» CAB File No. 1-0020
» ICAO Accident Digest Circular 39-AN/34 (67-71)


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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 San Francisco International Airport, CA to Oakland International Airport, CA as the crow flies is 18 km (11 miles).

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