Narrative:The American Airlines Boeing 707, named "Flagship District of Columbia", was cleared for takeoff at 10:05 on a scheduled domestic non-stop IFR flight to Los Angeles, California. The aircraft carried out what appeared to be a normal takeoff, and lift-off was at 10:07 hours about 5000 ft down runway 31L. At 10:07:37 the aircraft started a gentle turn to the left approximately 8000 ft down the runway, at an altitude of 100 ft, and was established on a heading of 290░ at 10:07:42. Straightening out from the turn, the aircraft continued to climb for several seconds on a heading of 290░ and started a second turn to the left as instructed by Departure Control. These manoeuvres were in accordance with the noise abatement procedures then in effect for taking-off from runway 31L. Having started the second turn, the angle of bank increased until the aircraft rolled through 90░ of bank at a peak altitude of about 1600 ft msl . It then entered an inverted, nose-low attitude and plunged earthward in a nearly vertical dive. It struck the earth in the shallow waters of Pumpkin Patch Channel of Jamaica Bay during low tide. Impact was at an angle of approximately 78░ nose down on a magnetic heading of 300░. Fire broke out a few minutes later.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "A rudder control system malfunction, producing yaw, sideslip, and roll leading to a loss of control from which recovery action was not effective."
Loss of control
» ICAO Accident Digest No.14 Volume II, Circular 71-AN/63 (22-35)
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 New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY to Los Angeles International Airport, CA as the crow flies is 3947 km (2467 miles).
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Networkĺs opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.