Northwest flight 4422 was a non-scheduled charter flight en route from Shanghai-Lunghwa Airport to La Guardia Field. An intermediate stop was made at Anchorage. Take-off from Anchorage was accomplished at 20:12 and the DC-4 climbed to the cruising altitude of 11,000 feet. The last position report was at 21:03 when the flight reported being over the Gulkana radio range station. At that point the airway deflects to the north, its course being 23 degrees, to provide a safe lateral distance from Mt. Sanford which has an elevation of 16,208 feet. The DC-4 continued off the airway and flew into Mount Sanford. The wreckage slid down for about 3000 feet before coming to rest. The wreckage was spotted the day after the accident, but it took until July 24, 1999 before someone was able to reach the crash site.
On March 12, 1948, Northwest Airlines Flight 4422 (NC95422) crashed into Mount Sanford, Alaska, with a crew of six and 24 passengers. The flight was a DC-4 charter flying back to the United States from Shanghai. The aircraft refueled at Anchorage (Merrill Field) and took off at 8:12 p.m. to continue on to its destination, New York City (LaGuardia Airport). For reasons unknown, the aircraft deviated from the published airway and crashed into Mount Sanford. After the initial impact the wreckage slid down for about 3000 feet before coming to rest. There were no survivors. The passengers were US Merchant Marine crew members of the tanker SS Sunset being ferried back home.
When the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board issued its Accident Investigation Report on the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 4422--a DC-4 demolished by impact and fire when it hit the slope of Mt. Sanford, Alaska, on March 12, 1948--the agency declared that the wreckage was "inaccessible from either the ground or the air."
On the morning following the crash, during a flight over the area, a group of accident investigation officials spotted the burned wreckage of the northwest aircraft. According to the cab report, the wreckage was located in a "small glacial cirque, the walls of which were avalanche slopes." Snow and ice were constantly falling into the cirque from an overhanging glacier, and it was obvious that the wreckage, identified by the northwest airlines insignia on the vertical fin, would be completely covered within a matter of days.