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Accident description
Last updated: 21 November 2017
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 4 December 1940
Time:17:48
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-3A-197C
Operator:United Air Lines
Registration: NC25678
C/n / msn: 2175
First flight: 1940
Total airframe hrs:2456
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 13
Total:Fatalities: 10 / Occupants: 16
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:0,5 km (0.3 mls) SW of Chicago Municipal Airport, IL (MDW) (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA/KLGA), United States of America
Destination airport:Chicago Municipal Airport, IL (MDW/KMDW), United States of America
Flightnumber: 21
Narrative:
A Douglas DC-3A passenger plane, NC25678, was destroyed in an accident near Chicago Municipal Airport, IL (MDW), U.S.A. All three crew members and seven of the 13 passengers were killed.
The airplane operated on a flight from New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA) to Chicago Municipal Airport, IL (MDW) with en route stops at Philadelphia, PA, Allentown, PA, Akron, OH and Cleveland, OH.
The airplane descended through the overcast near Chicago Municipal Airport and the pilot reported they would have to circle the airport to clear his windshield of ice, which impaired his vision.
After clearing the windshield the pilot decided to land on the northwest runway. At an altitude of approximately 160 feet, the airplane stalled, fell off to the left, and crashed while in an incipient spin. The accumulation of ice on the leading edges of the wing had raised the stall speed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Upon the basis of the foregoing findings of fact and upon all the evidence available at this time, we find that the probable cause of the accident aircraft NC25678 (United 21) on December 4, 1940, was the failure of the pilot to exercise that degree of caution and skill required to avert a stall while approaching for a landing on the short northwest runway. A substantial contributing factor to the accident was the error in judgement of Captain Scott in choosing that short runway for his landing."

Classification:
Icing
Loss of control

Sources:
» Chicago Tribune, 5 December 1940
» Chicago Tribune, 6 December 1940


Photos

photo of Douglas DC-3A-197C NC25678
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Map
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 New York-La Guardia Airport, NY to Chicago Municipal Airport, IL as the crow flies is 1156 km (722 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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