Narrative:United Air Lines Flight 736, a DC-7, took off from Los Angeles (LAX) at 07:37 on an IFR flight to New York (JFK) with a planned cruising altitude of FL210.
At about 07:45 a US Air Force North American F-100F-5-NA Super Sabre fighter (56-3755) took off from Nellis AFB on an instrument training flight. During the exercise the flight was executing a simulated jet penetration in the area of Las Vegas, NV. At 08:30 the fighter plane pilot reported that they were descending from FL280 near the KRAM radio station. At the same time, United flight 736 was approaching the Las Vegas VOR. Both aircraft collided at FL210, 9 miles SW of Las Vegas VOR station on Victor Airway 8. Initial contact occurred between the leading edge of the DC-7 right wing and the leading edge of the F-100 right wing, 132 inches outboard of the aircraft centreline. It was determined that the DC-7 was flying at about 312 knots on a 23 deg. heading and the F-100 at 444 knots on a 145 deg heading. Assuming a small descent angle of the F-100, the closure speed was about 665kts. Both planes crashed out of control.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "A high rate of near head-on closure at high altitude; human and cockpit limitations; and the failure of Nellis Air Force Base and the Civil Aeronautics Administration to take every measure to reduce a known collision exposure."
» ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 59-AN/54 (121-128)
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 Los Angeles International Airport, CA to New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY as the crow flies is 3948 km (2468 miles).