ASN Aircraft accident Curtiss C-46E-1-CS Commando N59487 Cobourg, ON
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Thursday 20 December 1951
Type:Silhouette image of generic C46 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Curtiss C-46E-1-CS Commando
Operator:Robin Airlines
Registration: N59487
MSN: 2934
First flight: 1945
Total airframe hrs:5754
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-75
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 45
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 48
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:Cobourg, ON (   Canada)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Departure airport:Chicago (unknown airport), IL, United States of America
Destination airport:Newark International Airport, NJ (EWR/KEWR), United States of America
Curtiss C-46 N59487 departed Burbank, California, on an IFR flight plan at 03:29, December 19, 1951, for Albuquerque, Kansas City, Chicago and Newark. Following departure from Burbank, an additional stop was made at Palmdale because the aircraft cabin heaters were not operating. Following repair of the heaters, the aircraft departed Palmdale at 13:53. The flight was refueled at Albuquerque, departed and arrived at Kansas City at 21:08. Departure from Kansas City was made at 22:36, and upon arrival at Chicago the flight made a routine ILS approach and landed at Midway Airport at 01:00, December 20. At approx. 03:00 the flight taxied to runway 13R, but was forced to hold there with engines running for nearly an hour because of the unknown position of another C-46 aircraft in the Chicago area. The flight finally departed Chicago at 03:54. En route, shortly after passing Toledo a severe snowstorm was encountered in which there was a mixture of rime ice, clear ice, frozen snow, and rain. The crew stated that at this time the aircraft's ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) radio receiver failed to indicate properly and that soon thereafter static conditions made it impossible to obtain a readable signal for navigation purposes with either the range receiver, ADF receiver, or manual DF receiver. The crew said numerous efforts were made, using different combinations of the above equipment, to obtain range signals, bearings and fixes. This condition existed for approximately two hours. During this time the captain flew by dead reckoning at his last assigned altitude. At 05:36 the flight was able to get in touch with Cleveland and reported having trouble getting orientated. Since a shortage of fuel was bringing about a critical condition, the captain decided to descend from the 9,000-foot cruising altitude in an attempt to determine his position. At about 3,000 feet MSL the crew saw that they were over water. The captain thought that he was over the Atlantic Ocean. In a few minutes the left engine became rough and surged to such an extent it was necessary to feather its propeller. This surging apparently was due to a lack of fuel in the tank for this engine. At 07:26 Rochester radio called and the flight immediately replied, describing their situation. At 07:38 the flight was over land again and the pilot sighted a small town. The right engine had stopped as well, forcing the pilot to carry out a wheels-up landing in a farm field near Cobourg.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the crew's incompetence in flight planning and navigation, fostered by failure of the company to check crew competency and provide proper flight training, which resulted in the crew becoming lost and flaking an off-course landing due to fuel exhaustion."

Accident investigation:

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

» CAB File No. 1-0105


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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.
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