Narrative:Douglas DC-3 NC79055, certificated for 32 passengers, had been scheduled for the flight. The crew however took NC36480 by accident, certificated for 26 passengers and 7 hours overdue for a 100-hour inspection. The flight to Oakland was uneventful. At Oakland, 28 passengers boarded the DC-3, leaving three of them sitting on luggage without seat belts. While en route at 5000 feet, the no. 1 engine caught fire. Following an explosion, the left wing, including the engine, separated from the fuselage. The aircraft crashed out of control.
It appeared that the gasket in the engine driven left fuel pump was broken and the 4 studs holding the castings of the pump together were loose. Under pressure, gasoline probably sprayed from the pump, then being ignited by the exhaust. The aircraft was carrying Mexican deportees and a US Immigration & Naturalization Service guard.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the left wing in flight as a result of damage by fire which had its source in a defective left engine driven fuel pump."
» Air Britain Casualty compendium (pt. 47)
» The 28 deportees who died in an airplane crash in 1948
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 Oakland International Airport, CA to Imperial County Airport, CA as the crow flies is 806 km (504 miles).