Date & Time: Oct 26, 1959 at 2018 LT
Type of aircraft:
Scheduled Revenue Flight
Los Angeles – Oxnard – Santa Maria – Paso Robles – San Francisco
United States of America
Crew on board:
Pax on board:
Captain / Total hours on type:
Copilot / Total hours on type:
Aircraft flight hours:
Flight 308 was scheduled between Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with intermediate stops at Oxnard, Santa Maria, and Paso Robles, California. The trip to Oxnard. and Santa Maria was routine. Takeoff from, Santa Maria was made from runway 30 with 17 passengers on board and a crew of three. A few seconds after the first power reduction following takeoff, a loud explosion was heard and fire was seen in the left engine. The left propeller was immediately feathered, the engine was shut off, and appropriate power was applied to the right engine. At the time this happened the aircraft was at an approximate altitude of 550 feet m s.l., or 300 feet above the ground. Shortly after this the fire was observed to be out; however, the airplane began to buffet. This buffeting became so severe that the aircraft lost altitude and the captain was forced to make an emergency landing about 1-1/2 miles north of the airport. The copilot was killed, the captain was seriously injured, and the purser and 17 passengers received injuries of varying degrees.
The Board determines the probable cause of this accident was that following the failure of the left engine, the left engine's ring cowl was deformed causing a buffeting and drag condition which made sustained flight impossible. A contributing factor was the scheduling of the aircraft by the company when there should have been reasonable doubt concerning the airworthiness of an engine.