American Airlines Flight 157 Crashes, Killing 28
American Airlines Flight 157, a Douglas DC-6, was flying on November 29, 1949 from New York City bound for Mexico City with 46 passengers and crew.
After one engine failed in mid-flight, a series of critical mistakes by the flight crew caused the pilot to lose control of the plane during the final approach to a routine stopover at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. The airliner slid off the runway and struck a parked airplane, a hangar, and a flight school before crashing into a business across from the airport. 26 passengers and two flight attendants died. The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and 15 others survived.
American Flight 157 from New York-LaGuardia to Washington, Dallas and Mexico City was carried out by DC-6 N90728, named "Flagship South Carolina". The flight to and departure from Washington were uneventful. At 02:54 a descent was started to 6,000 feet. When approaching Nashville the no. 1 engine had started backfiring at intervals of about 20 seconds. Various corrective measures, including the application of alcohol and carburetor heat, and the richening of fuel mixture, were applied but were not successful and the backfiring continued. The no. 1 engine was then feathered at a point about 25 miles southwest of Nashville at approximately 03:00. When 15 miles northeast of Dallas, at 05:36, the flight was given permission to enter the traffic pattern at Love Field, Dallas, with a right-hand turn and instructed to land on runway 36. Weather was fine as the flight turned to final approach. The turn to final placed the aircraft to the left of the runway. Accordingly an "S" turn was made to correct the misalignment.
No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour . . . will make us one whit stronger, happier or wiser.
There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast . . . The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being." —John Ruskin Six thousand feet above Arkansas the left outboard engine of the big DC-6 began to pop dangerous orange flames. Unhurriedly, as became his 52 years and his 20,000 flying hours, Pilot Laurens Claude flicked the switches, cutting the bad power plant and feathering its propeller. On her three good engines, American Airlines' Aztec, New York-to-Mexico City luxury liner, purred steadily on course for Dallas, 300 miles southwest.