Pan Am's Clipper Tradewind Crashes

Flight 214 was in a holding pattern awaiting an insturment approach to the Philadelphia International Airport when it was struck by lightning.

Immediately thereafter, the aircraft was observed to be on fire. A large portion of the left wing seperated in flight and the aircraft crashed in flames approximately ten nautical miles southwest of the New Castle, Delaware VOR. All persons aboard, 73 passengers and eight crew members, perished in the crash and the aircraft was destroyed.

At 20:58 Clipper Tradewind suffered a lightning strike. This caused the initial ignition of flammable fuel vapours inside the left reserve fuel tank. This triggered explosions in the centre and right reserve fuel tanks as well. Fuel spilled and caught fire; the complete left wingtip separated as a result. The aircraft was then seen to crash in flames. A 'Mayday' call was received by Philadelphia Approach as the plane was descending out of control.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Lightning-induced ignition of the fuel/air mixture in the no. 1 reserve fuel tank with resultant explosive disintegration of the left outer wing and loss of control."

The airliner was on a flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia. The aircraft was in a holding pattern along with 5 other planes when the control tower received a Mayday message. The plane was seen going down in flames and crashed 10 miles southwest of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was struck by lightning. Lightning induced ignition of fuel tank vapors. Within two weeks after the accident, the FAA ordered lightning discharge wicks to be installed on all commercial jet airliners. The aircraft was named Clipper Tradewind.

Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707-121 registered as N709PA, was a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Baltimore to Philadelphia, which crashed on December 8, 1963 near Elkton, Maryland, after being hit by a lightning strike while in a holding pattern, killing all 81 persons on board.