Sunday 21 April 2024

Looking back on United Air Lines Flight 736

United Air Lines Flight 736, a daily transcontinental passenger service operated by United Airlines between Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) and New York's Idlewild Airport (IDL/KIDL), met with tragedy on the 21st of April 1958. The Douglas DC-7 airliner, carrying 47 people, collided mid-air with a United States Air Force fighter jet, a North American F-100F-5-NA Super Sabre, over Clark County, Nevada, in clear weather conditions. Both aircraft plummeted from 21,000 feet (6,400 m) into the desert southwest of Las Vegas, resulting in no survivors. This incident, part of a series of mid-air collisions in the 1950s, spurred significant enhancements in air traffic control and led to a major reorganization of federal aviation authorities in the U.S.

The crash claimed the lives of military personnel and civilian contractors who were part of sensitive Department of Defense projects, leading to new regulations that prevent critical project teams from flying together on the same aircraft.

The official investigation identified limitations in cockpit visibility and high closure speeds as factors in the collision. Although no blame was assigned to either crew, the report criticized both military and civilian aviation authorities for their failure to address known risks of collision within airway confines, despite repeated airline crew complaints.

Subsequent lawsuits emerged from the disaster. In one notable case, a judge ruled that the Air Force pilots lacked "ordinary care" in operating the fighter jet and should have given way to the DC-7, even though the official report did not place blame on either crew. The judge also condemned the Air Force for not integrating their training flights with civilian air traffic and for failing to schedule.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: United Airlines
Code: UA/UAL
Aircraft: Douglas DC 7
Registration: N6328C
Serial Number: 45142
Engines: Four eighteen-cylinder Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone Turbo-Compound engines
First Flew: January 1956
Age: 2 Years 

Aircraft Information:
Owner / Operator: United States Air Force
Aircraft: North American F-100F-5-NA Super Sabre
Registration: 56-3755
Serial Number: 243-31
Engines: Pratt & Whitney J57-P-7

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