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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 226360
Last updated: 20 June 2019
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Date:20-JUN-1944
Time:
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas C-54 Skymaster
Owner/operator:Transcontinental and Western Airways (TWA)
Registration: 41-37227
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Fort Mountain, NE of Piscataquis, Piscataquis County, MN -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:Stephenville International Airport, NL (YJT)
Destination airport:Washington D.C.
Narrative:
TWA Flight 277, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster, was destroyed after crashing in Fort Mountain, in Maine's Baxter State Park. All seven on board died, including six civilian crewmembers and one United States Army Air Force passenger.
The flight was operating a cargo/mail flight between England and Washington DC.

The crew and aircraft departed Stephenville, Newfoundland on the final leg of the flight with an IFR flight plan,and a planned time enroute of 6 hours 55 minutes at 4000 feet. The aircraft checked in with Flight Control at Presque Isle Maine AAF over Moncton, New Brunswick on schedule and on course. Around 11 PM, a morse code ETA was transmitted to Washington DC by 277. No further trasmissions were heard.

When the aircraft failed to report passing Bangor, Maine, it was reported overdue. All military radio stations in the region were asked to attempt contact, to no avail.

The leg of the flight that 277 was on at the time it lost contact was along the Blissville NB- Bangor ME radio airway. Poor weather conditions, with low ceiling, prevented any air search until late the following afternoon. This and more extensive air search activity along the Blissville-Bangor route on the 22nd also came up empty.

The Blissville-Bangor route passed across the relatively flat terrain of coastal Maine. The Pilot of another C-54, flying the same route an hour behind the missing plane,reported severe thunderstorm activity between Moncton and Blissville during his flight with severe southeast winds blowing his aircraft 40 miles off course to the north and poor radio direction finding "fixes" due to static interference from electrical storms. A break in the weather had allowed his Navigator to get a good bearing on Blissville and correct their course.

Operations Officers at Presque Isle AAF projected the location of the storm front when 277 had passed the area and projected that the winds aloft could have pushed the aircraft nearly 70 miles of course into the Mt. Katahdin area, with mountains over the 4000 foot flight altitude in the flight path. This theory proved correct, and at around 9 AM on the 23rd, a C-47 spotted the wreckage at the 3900 foot elevation on the southeastern side of Fort Mountain. The aircraft was completely demolished and a post-crash fire was evident. This area is among the most rugged, and at the time inaccessible, mountain terrain in Maine.

The first ground search party reached the crash site seven days after the mishap and confirmed that all seven personnel aboard had died in the impact. The right wing had contacted the mountain, about 100 feet below the peak and turned the aircraft about 15 degrees into the slope. The plane had broken up in a boulder field along a 1000 foot path. The autopilot was off and the plane was being flown manually at the time of impact.

Killed in this mishap were: Rodger Inman, Pilot; Disbrow Gill, Copilot; David Reynolds, Navigator; Nordi Byrd, Flight Engineer; Eugene Summers, Radio Operator; Samuel Berman, Purser; and Sgt. Elbert Barnes USAAF, Passenger.

- Probable Cause:
"The Board of Inquiry concluded that the winds aloft had pushed the plane off the airway and static interference prevented a good fix on the Bangor radio beacon. The crew apparently did not realize they had strayed from the airway, and had not climbed to avoid the terrain."

Sources:

http://archive.boston.com/news/local/maine/articles/2009/06/01/on_remote_maine_mountainside_world_war_ii_wreckage_left_as_informal_monument/
http://www.mewreckchasers.com/C54A.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
20-Jun-2019 10:21 Captain Adam Added
20-Jun-2019 10:23 Captain Adam Updated [Date]

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