Narrative:At 10:05 American Flight 1 was cleared for takeoff from runway 31L on a scheduled domestic non-stop IFR flight to Los Angeles. 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." (CAB)
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).