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Last updated: 19 November 2018
Status:
Date:Monday 5 June 1972
Type:Silhouette image of generic C46 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Curtiss C-46A-45-CU Commando
Operator:Air America
Registration: EM-2
C/n / msn: 30460
First flight: 1944
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 29 / Occupants: 29
Total:Fatalities: 32 / Occupants: 32
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:near Pleiku (   Vietnam)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Hue-Phu Bai Airport (HUI/VVPB), Vietnam
Destination airport:Pleiku Airport (PXU/VVPK), Vietnam
Narrative:
Crashed on approach, killing 3 CAL crew, 11 US military, 14 South Vietnamese military, 1 South Vietnamese civilian woman and 3 CAL deadhead mechanics. The C-46 had been en route Saigon - Ban Me Thuot - Pleiku - Hue Phu Bai - Ban Me Thuot and was to fly back to Saigon.

The crew chief of the Pleiku GCA at the time reported that he "had issued lost comm and a heading along with a desent to final approach altitude on the downwind leg and everything was normal until I issued a turn to crosswind. The aircraft did not take the turn and after a few miles began to call the GCA. I had made numerous attempts to contact the aircraft on 243.0 and 121.5. I even had airborne aircraft and the tower at Camp Holloway attempt to contact the aircraft but to no avail. At the assigned pattern altitude the aircraft was below the emergency safe altitude and continued Eastbound until it struck the top of a mountain peak. The pilot might have attempted to begin a climb but did not execute the lost comm instructions. The flying safety officer was USAF Major Mike Parino and he was the OIC of search and rescue. He related that had the aircraft deviated either right or left a few hundred feet he would have missed the peak but instead the aircraft impacted about 50 feet below the top of the peak."

Sources:
» The aircraft of Air America / by Dr. Joe F. Leeker


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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 Hue-Phu Bai Airport to Pleiku Airport as the crow flies is 267 km (167 miles).
Accident location: Global; accuracy within tens or hundreds of kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Curtiss C-46

  • 3341 built
  • 979th loss
  • 230th fatal accident
  • 23rd worst accident
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 Vietnam
  • 12th worst accident (at the time)
  • 16th worst accident (currently)
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