Accident description
Last updated: 22 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Friday 22 June 1951
Time:03:25 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-049 Constellation
Operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: N88846
C/n / msn: 2046
First flight:
Total airframe hrs:13343
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350 (745C18BA3) Cyclone
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 31 / Occupants: 31
Total:Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:4 km (2.5 mls) W of Sanoyea (   Liberia) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Accra-Kotoka Airport (ACC/DGAA), Ghana
Destination airport:Monrovia-Roberts International Airport (ROB/GLRB), Liberia
Narrative:
Pan American's Flight 151 departed Johannesburg for New York. At 08:12, June 21, after a routine flight and scheduled stop at Leopoldville "Clipper Great Republic" arrived at Accra at 21:25. Following a mechanical delay which required the changing of several spark plugs and a set of magneto points, the flight was dispatched and cleared to Monrovia, on an instrument flight plan at 16,500 feet with Dakar. Take-off from Accra was at 23:52Z and the flight climbed to en route altitude. At 02:20 Flight 151 requested clearance to descend. Roberts Field radio cleared the flight to descend to 3,000 feet. Five minutes later the flight was cleared by the tower controller to descend IFR over Roberts Range Station, and indicated that runway 05 was in use. At 02:37 Flight 151 was again given local weather for Roberts Field: cloud base estimated 1,000 feet, broken, light drizzle and haze, visibility 3 miles. At 02:55, nine minutes after its ETA, Flight 151 was heard calling Roberts Field. The tower responded but there was no indication that the aircraft heard the tower. Six minutes later contact was established on another frequency. The flight reported that the Dakar radio beacon was interfering with the Roberts Field radio beacon and that they would "be back in 15 minutes". At 03:15 the crew were given another weather report; this was the last radio contact with the flight. In an area where cloud bases were probably down to near the hilltops, the flight descended into a hill at 1050 feet msl and crashed.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the action of the captain in descending below his en route minimum altitude without positive identification of the flight's position."

Sources:
» CAB File No. 1-0053
» ICAO Aircraft Accident Digest No.2, Circular 24-AN/21 (107-110)


Photos

photo of Lockheed L-049 Constellation N88846
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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 Accra-Kotoka Airport to Monrovia-Roberts International Airport as the crow flies is 1124 km (703 miles).

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Lockheed L-049

  • 15th loss
  • 88 built
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 7th worst accident (currently)
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 Liberia
  • worst accident (at the time)
  • 2nd worst accident (currently)
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