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Last updated: 6 December 2021
Date:Tuesday 25 March 1958
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC7 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-7C
Operator:Braniff International Airways
Registration: N5904
MSN: 45072/793
First flight: 1956
Total airframe hrs:3306
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350 (988TC18EA1)
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 19
Total:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 24
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:5 km (3.1 mls) WNW of Miami International Airport, FL (MIA) (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Miami International Airport, FL (MIA/KMIA), United States of America
Destination airport:Panama City-Tocumen International Airport (PTY/MPTO), Panama
Flightnumber: 971
Shortly after takeoff from Miami a no. 3 engine fire forced the crew to return to the airport. Altitude was lost while in a right turn until the DC-7 crashed in an open marsh. The plane caught fire and disintegrated while skidding for a considerable distance.

The no.3 engine's no.11 cylinder had failed 3 inches above the mounting flange.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the captain to maintain altitude during an emergency return to the airport due to his undue preoccupation with an engine fire following takeoff."

Engine fire
Loss of control

» ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 59-AN/54 (104-108)


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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 Miami International Airport, FL to Panama City-Tocumen International Airport as the crow flies is 1850 km (1156 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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