Alaska Airlines Flight 1866 Crashes Near Juneau

Alaska Airlines Flight 1866 was the first fatal jet airliner crash of Alaska Airlines (sometimes incorrectly cited as the first fatal crash involving the airline), an airline registered in the United States.

The aircraft crashed into a mountain near Juneau, Alaska (JNU/PAJN) on approach for landing on September 4, 1971. 111 people were killed. There were no survivors. At the time, it was the worst plane crash in the history of the United States until June 24, 1975, when Eastern Airlines Flight 66 crashed.

The aircraft was a Boeing 727-100 with U.S. registry N2969G. Flight 1866 originated in Anchorage, Alaska and had stopped at Cordova (CDV) and Yakutat (YAK/PAYA). It was scheduled to stop in Juneau and Sitka before ending in Seattle.

The aircraft was manufactured in 1966 as c/n 19304 and manufacturer’s serial number 287. It had accumulated 11,344 flight hours prior to the incident.

7 crew members were aboard as well as 104 passengers.
The flight landed at Yakutat at 11:07 a.m.. It departed Yakutat at 11.35 a.m. for Juneau.

The aircraft impacted the eastern slope of a canyon in the Chilkat Range of the Tongass National Forest at the 2475-foot level, 35 km (21 miles) west of Juneau. The aircraft disintegrated on impact at 12:15 p.m.. There were no survivors.
The captain of the flight was Richard C. Adams, age 41 at the time of the crash. Piloting the aircraft at the time was First Officer Leonard D. Beach, age 32. James J. Carson was the second officer. Beach and Carson had been employed with Alaska Airlines in 1966. Adams had been with Alaska Airlines since 1955.

A display of misleading navigational information concerning the flight's progress along the localizer course which resulted in a premature descent below obstacle clearance altitude. The origin or nature of the misleading navigational information could not be determined. The Board further concludes that the crew did not use all available navigational aids to check the flight's progress along the localizer nor were these aids required to be used. The crew also did not perform the required audio identification of the pertinent navigational facilities.”

— Aviation Safety Newtork