Accident description
Last updated: 24 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 19 July 1951
Time:15:59
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-749A Constellation
Operator:Eastern Air Lines
Registration: N119A
C/n / msn: 2616
First flight: 1949
Total airframe hrs:5716
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 48
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 53
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Curles Neck Farm, VA (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Newark International Airport, NJ (EWR/KEWR), United States of America
Destination airport:Miami International Airport, FL (MIA/KMIA), United States of America
Flightnumber: 601
Narrative:
Flight 601 departed Newark for Miami at 14:15. As it passed Philadelphia, at 14:52, the cruising altitude of 18000 feet was reached. For the next 25 to 30 minutes violent turbulence accompanied by intermittent periods of hail was encountered. The flight continued past Philadelphia for a few minutes toward Dover and then made a turn to the west in an attempt to avoid as much of the storm area as possible. The flight broke out in a clear area at about 15:17. The flight was able to continue VFR and descended to 8,000 feet. A second squall was encountered in the vicinity of Lynchburg at 15:50. The aircraft was slowed to 185 mph IAS, light turbulence and buffeting were experienced. After breaking out of the storm at 15:54, the buffeting became so severe that the crew believed the aircraft would disintegrate. Airspeed was further reduced, but the buffeting continued. Two minutes later the captain radioed an emergency and the flight descended. The captain recognized Curles Neck Farm, selected the largest field, and landed straight ahead with the flaps up and the landing gear retracted. He felt it inadvisable to make any turn, lower the flaps, or otherwise to change the flight configuration, since the cause of the severe buffeting was unknown. During the last few moments of flight, as the nose of the aircraft touched high corn in a field, the copilot and flight engineer cut all switches. A power line pole at the edge of the corn field was struck by the right wing as the aircraft passed under the wires After passing over Curles Neck Road, a section of fence was torn down and the aircraft skidded 1,100 feet through a field, another fence, and finally came to rest in a pasture 265 feet from the second fence. A localized fire developed outside of the No 4 engine, but was extinguished by rain and a local fire truck which arrived at the scene within a short time. The airplane was repaired following the accident, but was lost in an accident near New York on October 19, 1953.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight opening of the hydraulic access door, which caused extreme buffeting of the aircraft and resulted in the captain's decision to make an emergency landing."

Sources:
» CAB File No 1-0057


Photos

photo of Lockheed L-749A Constellation N119A
photo of Lockheed L-749A Constellation N119A
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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 Newark International Airport, NJ to Miami International Airport, FL as the crow flies is 1739 km (1087 miles).

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