TWA Flight 599


TWA Flight 599

Infobox Airliner accident
name = TWA Flight 599
Crash
|360px
Image caption = Wreckage of the Fokker F-10
Date = March 31, 1931
Type = Structural failure
Site = near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Origin = Kansas City, Missouri
Destination = Los Angeles, California
Fatalities = 8
Injuries = 0
Aircraft Type = Fokker F.10
Operator = Transcontinental and Western Air
Tail Number = NC-999
Passengers = 6
Crew = 2
Survivors = 0|

Transcontinental and Western Air Flight 599 was a Fokker F.10 Trimotor en route from Kansas City, Missouri, to Los Angeles, California, on March 31, 1931. It crashed ten miles south of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas; all eight on board died. One of those killed was Knute Rockne, the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, who was on his way to Los Angeles for the film "The Spirit of Notre Dame".

It is often claimed that Flight 599 went down in or shortly after a thunderstorm. However, meteorological records show that there was no significant convective activity at the time. The accident was actually caused by the composition of the aircraft. Fokker Trimotors were manufactured out of wood laminate; in this instance, moisture had leaked into the interior of one wing over a period of time and had weakened the glue bonding the structural members (called struts or spars) that prevented the wing from fluttering in flight. One spar finally failed; the wing developed uncontrolled flutter and separated from the aircraft.

Although the accident is best known for the death of Rockne, the accident also caused numerous changes in the operations of both TWA and the Aeronautics Branch of the US Department of Commerce, forerunner of today's FAA. TWA was forced (as were all USA airlines of the day) to remove Fokker Trimotors from service; the expense of this added to the bad publicity associated with Rockne's death almost sank the airline.

The intense public interest in the cause of the accident forced the Department of Commerce to abandon its policy of keeping the results of aircraft accident investigations secret. Many references claim that the accident was also the impetus for the formation of the Civil Aeronautics Board, an independent investigative organization and the predecessor of the NTSB, but the CAB was not formed until 1940, after an accident involving U.S. Senator Bronson M. Cutting underlined the Department's conflicts of interest in respect of its associations with airlines and its provision and maintenance of navigational aids.

ee also

* List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
* Air safety

External links

* [http://www.planecrashinfo.com/1931/1931-7.htm Planecrashinfo.com's information sheet on Flight 599]
* [http://www.kansasphototour.com/rockne.htm Kansas Photo Tour of the accident site, including the Flight 599 Memorial]
* [http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Government_Role/accident_invest/POL17.htm Centennial of Flight information on CAA investigation of Flight 599]
* [http://www.irishlegends.com/pages/reflections/reflections49.html Reflections from the Dome] , a good article about the crash


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