Accident description
Last updated: 21 December 2014
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 8 December 1963
Time:20:59
Type:Boeing 707-121
Operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: N709PA
C/n / msn: 17588/3
First flight: 1958
Total airframe hrs:15609
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6
Crew:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 73 / Occupants: 73
Total:Fatalities: 81 / Occupants: 81
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Elkton, MD (   United States of America) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Baltimore/Washington International Airport, MD (BWI/KBWI), United States of America
Destination airport:Philadelphia International Airport, PA (PHL/KPHL), United States of America
Flightnumber: 214
Narrative:
Pan American Flight 214 departed San Juan, Puerto Rico at 16:10 EST for a flight to Philadelphia with an intermediate stop at Baltimore. The aircraft, named 'Clipper Tradewind' arrived at Baltimore at 19:35 and took off again after refueling at 20:24. After contacting Philadelphia Approach Control the crew elected to wait in a holding pattern along with 5 other aircraft because of extreme winds at Philadelphia. Flight 214 entered a holding pattern west of the New Castle VOR on the 270 radial.
At 20:58 the airplane suffered a lightning strike. This caused the initial ignition of flammable fuel vapours inside the left reserve fuel tank. This triggered explosions in the centre and right reserve fuel tanks as well. Fuel spilled and caught fire; the complete left wingtip separated as a result. The aircraft was then seen to crash in flames. A 'Mayday' call was received by Philadelphia Approach as the plane was descending out of control.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "Lightning-induced ignition of the fuel/air mixture in the no. 1 reserve fuel tank with resultant explosive disintegration of the left outer wing and loss of control."

Classification:
Lightningstrike

Loss of control

Sources:
» ICAO Accident Digest No.15 - Volume II, Circular 78-AN/66 (121-133)

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) - United States of America
report status: Final
report number: Final report
report released:03-MAR-1965
duration of investigation:451 days (1 year 2.9 months)
download report: Pan American World Airways, Inc Boeing 707-121, N709PA near Elkton, Maryland December 8, 1963 (CAB Final report)
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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 Baltimore/Washington International Airport, MD to Philadelphia International Airport, PA as the crow flies is 144 km (90 miles).

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Boeing 707

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