Narrative: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: "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."
» CAB File No. 852-46
N88858 with three engines following the emergency landing.
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, NF as the crow flies is 1752 km (1095 miles).