Accident description
Last updated: 2 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 6 October 1955
Time:07:26 MST
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-4
Operator:United Air Lines
Registration: N30062
C/n / msn: 18389
First flight: 1944
Total airframe hrs:28755
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney R-2000-11
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 63 / Occupants: 63
Total:Fatalities: 66 / Occupants: 66
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Medicine Bow Peak, WY (   United States of America) show on map
Crash site elevation: 3527 m (11572 feet) amsl
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Denver-Stapleton International Airport, CO (DEN/KDEN), United States of America
Destination airport:Salt Lake City International Airport, UT (SLC/KSLC), United States of America
Flightnumber: 409
Narrative:
A Douglas DC-4, N30062, was destroyed when it crashed into a Medicine Bow Peak, WY. All 63 passengers and three crew members were killed.
United Air Lines Flight 409 originated at New York, NY on October 5, 1955, destination San Francisco, CA, with intermediate stops including Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; and Salt Lake City, UT. The trip to Denver was routine.
At Denver the flight was dispatched to Salt Lake City via airways V-4, V-118, V-6, and V-32 to cruise at 10,000 feet, and to fly in accordance with Visual Flight Rules (VFR). The estimated time en route was two hours and 33 minutes. The only obligatory reporting point along the route was Rook Springs, WY.
The flight departed Denver at 06:33. Flight 409 reported its time off to the company and this was the last known radio contact with the flight.
When the flight failed to report at Rock Springs at 08:11, its estimated reporting time, repeated efforts were made to establish radio contact with it. These were unsuccessful and the company then declared an emergency. A widespread search was immediately initiated. At approximately 11:40 the same day the wreckage was sighted near Medicine Bow Peak, 33 miles west of Laramie, WY. The Laramie weather at 07:28 was: Scattered clouds, 5,500 feet; visibility 40 miles; wind west-northwest 13 knots; snow showers of unknown intensity over the mountains.
The aircraft struck the almost vertical rock cliff of the east slope of Medicine Bow Peak (elevation 12,005 feet) located in the Medicine Bow Mountains. The crash occurred at an elevation of 11,570 feet, 60 feet below the top of that portion of the mountain directly above it.
The accident site was 20 miles west off course.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The action of the pilot in deviating from the planned route for reasons unknown."

Classification:
Cause undetermined
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» ICAO Accident Digest No.8, Circular 54-AN/49 (16-19)


Photos

photo of Douglas DC-4 N30062
fuselage skin
photo of Douglas DC-4 N30062
accident site
photo of Douglas DC-4 N30062
engine part
photo of Douglas DC-4 N30062
debris
photo of Douglas DC-4 N30062
strut
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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 Denver-Stapleton International Airport, CO to Salt Lake City International Airport, UT as the crow flies is 608 km (380 miles).

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Douglas DC-4

  • 177th loss
  • 1242+ built
  • worst accident (at the time)
  • 7th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 43rd worst accident (currently)
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