Narrative:The DC-4 aircraft, named 'Yukon Trader' was on a VFR flight from a remote mining strip at Bronson Creek to Wrangell with a crew of three and about 16,600 pounds of cargo on board. At an altitude of 1,500 feet after takeoff the crew heard a whining noise. They switched inverters, but the problem persisted. Electrical instrument indications in the cockpit then became erratic, and the number 2 engine began to misfire; its fire warning light in the cockpit illuminated briefly. The crew carried out the engine fire drill; however, the fire did not extinguish. The captain commenced a right-hand turn to return to the Bronson Creek airstrip, and announced to the crew that the number 2 engine had separated from the wing. The captain applied maximum power to the three remaining engines; however, the aircraft began to lose altitude. Both pilots held the rudder and aileron controls at full right deflection in an attempt to prevent the aircraft from yawing or rolling to the left. The aircraft was shaking violently at that time, and the crew members were unable to read any of the engine or flight instruments. At about 50 feet above ground level, just short of the Iskut River, the pilots closed the throttles. The aircraft descended rapidly, and the burning left wing struck a tree just as the fuselage contacted the surface of the river. The three occupants escaped the burning aircraft, and the first officer and load master swam to safety. The captain is missing and is presumed to have drowned.
CAUSES AND CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: "The number 2 engine separated from the aircraft as a result of an intense fire in the wing. The loss of the engine rendered the aircraft uncontrollable, and the pilots were forced to land in the river."
Official accident investigation report
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 Bronson Creek Airport, BC to Wrangell Airport, AK as the crow flies is 81 km (51 miles).