ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed L-049-51-26 Constellation NC88858 Willimantic, CT
ASN logo

Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Tuesday 18 June 1946
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-049-51-26 Constellation
Operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: NC88858
MSN: 2058
First flight: 1946
Total airframe hrs:387
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350 (739C18BA2)
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 10
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 42
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 52
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:Willimantic, CT (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA/KLGA), United States of America
Destination airport:Gander Airport, NL (YQX/CYQX), Canada
PanAm Trip 100 departed New York at 16:01 for a transatlantic flight to London with intermediate stops at Gander and Shannon. The flight climbed on course to an altitude of 15,000 feet and reported reaching that altitude at 16:33. At 16:51, the fire warning bell sounded and the light for No. 4 engine came on indicating a fire in that nacelle. The emergency engine fire procedure was immediately initiated. The captain decided to divert to Hartford. In order to return to Hartford as rapidly as possible, the captain descended with power and at a very high indicated airspeed which ultimately reached 300 mph. Because the aircraft was continuing to accelerate, the captain partially extended the flaps and reduced the airspeed to approximately 250 mph. During the high speed descent, the flight crew observed the propeller on No. 4 engine turn slowly despite the fact that it was fully feathered. Flames were pouring from the top inboard louvers of that engine nacelle and were increasing in intensity during the descent. At an altitude of approximately 7,000 feet, about four minutes after the fire warning bell sounded, the No. 4 engine suddenly swung downward and fell free from the wing. At approximately 3,000 feet, the aircraft broke out beneath the overcast. The captain sighted Windham Airport at Willimantic, Connecticut, and being uncertain of the damage incurred as a result of the fire, he decided to land at that field rather than prolong the flight to Hartford. In attempting to lower the landing gear, it was observed that the hydraulic system was inoperative as a result of breakage of hydraulic lines in the No. 4 engine nacelle. Rather than lose any more time than necessary, the captain decided against attempting to actuate the emergency gear extension system and landed as soon as he was able to establish an upwind approach. The belly landing was accomplished to the northeast with partial flaps since no additional flaps could be extended subsequent to the loss of No. 4 engine. The aircraft was repaired, but crashed April 15, 1948 while on approach to Shannon.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was fire in the No. 4 engine nacelle due to fracture of the universal joint housing of the supercharger drive shaft, breakage of the adjacent hydraulic line, and subsequent ignition of the leaking hydraulic fluid."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: CAB
Status: Investigation completed
Accident number: final report
Download report: Final report

Engine fire
Engine separation
Forced landing on runway

» CAB File No. 852-46


photo of Lockheed-L-049-Constellation-N88858
accident date: 18-06-1946
type: Lockheed L-049 Constellation
registration: N88858

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 Gander Airport, NL as the crow flies is 1752 km (1095 miles).

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.
languages: languages


The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2023 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314