Northwest Airlines - Incidents and Accidents - Fatal Accidents

Fatal Accidents

The following are major incidents and accidents that occurred on Northwest's mainline aircraft.

Northwest Airlines Reported Incidents
Flight Date Aircraft Location Description Casualties
Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured Ground
2 January 10, 1938 Lockheed
Model 14
Bozeman, Montana Crashed in the Bridger Mountains, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Bozeman, Montana. This was the airline's first fatal crash. Three other Lockheed Model 14 aircraft belonging to Northwest crashed over the next thirteen months. 10
5 October 30, 1941 Douglas DC-3 Moorhead, Minnesota The plane crashed in fog and mist due to icing on the wings. Fourteen of the fifteen passengers were killed in the crash. The pilot, Clarence Bates, was thrown clear of the wreckage and was the lone survivor. 14 1
4422 March 12, 1948 Douglas DC-4 Mount Sanford, Alaska Flight 4422 was a military charter en route back to the US from Shanghai, China, and had just refueled at Merrill Field, in Anchorage, Alaska, before continuing on toward LaGuardia Airport where the flight was to be concluded. The aircraft veered 23 miles off course and struck a mountain during a snowstorm. The snowstorms quickly buried the aircraft in a mountain glacier. 30
421 August 29, 1948 Martin 202 Winona, Minnesota Northwest 421 was flying a scheduled domestic route from Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul when it crashed about 4.1 miles (6.6 km) NW of Winona, Minnesota, after entering the leading edge of a thunderstorm. Pieces of the plane were seen falling, and the plane was found on a bluff on the east side of the Mississippi River. The cause of the crash was fatigue of the left wing, causing it to separate from the plane and precipitating the plunge. 37
6427 October 27, 1948 Douglas DC-4 Edmonton, Alberta Flight 6427 was on a special cargo trip flying Minneapolis-St. Paul–Edmonton–Anchorage (Merrill Field)–Tokyo when it crashed into a wooded area 34.4 miles (55.4 km) N of Edmonton soon after takeoff. The investigation revealed that the captain had feathered the propellers in simulation to instruct the copilot on emergency procedures. This was determined to be the primary cause of the crash. 2 3
307 March 7, 1950 Martin 202 Minneapolis, Minnesota Flight 307 was operating a domestically scheduled passenger flight routing Washington, DC–Detroit–Madison–Rochester–Minneapolis-St. Paul–Winnipeg crashed just before landing at Minneapolis, after deciding not to land at Rochester due to weather. The plane struck a flagpole at the National Soldiers Cemetery. The plane continued flying for another 3.8 miles (6.1 km) when the left wing separated and fell. The plane crashed into a house, and both were engulfed in flames. The cause of the crash was determined to be the loss of visual reference to the ground due to the snow falling at the time 13 2
2501 June 23, 1950 Douglas DC-4 Lake Michigan Northwest 2501 was lost over Lake Michigan during a flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Seattle, WA. The aircraft went off radar and a widespread search was conducted. Some debris, upholstery, and human remains were found floating on the surface, but divers were unable to locate the plane's wreckage. 58
N/A October 13, 1950 Martin 202 Almelund, Minnesota This flight was intended to be a training flight originating and ending at Minneapolis-St. Paul. The reversal of the right propeller during the flight caused the plane to spin out of control and crash, killing all on board. 6
115 November 7, 1950 Martin 202 Butte, Montana Flight 115 was flying a scheduled route of Chicago-Minneapolis-St. Paul–Billings–Great Falls–Helena–Butte–Seattle when it crashed 3.1 miles (5.0 km) E of Butte while landing. The plane crashed into the eastern slope of a ridge. The cause of the crash was improperly followed approach procedures. 21
115 January 16, 1951 Martin 202 Reardan, Washington Flight 115 (which was the same designation as the previous accident) was on the scheduled route of Minneapolis-St. Paul–Billings–Kalispell–Spokane–Wenatchee–Yakima–Seattle when it crashed about 11.9-mile (19.2 km) W of Reardan after the captain decided not to land at Wenatchee but proceed to Yakima due to weather. An emergency message from the plane was heard briefly 15 seconds after the clearance was given. The cause of the crash is not known. 10
324 January 19, 1952 Douglas C-54 Sandspit, British Columbia Flight 324 was flying a nonscheduled flight originating in Tokyo, ending at McChord Air Force Base with intermediate stops in Shemya and Anchorage (Elmendorf Air Force Base). While opposite Sitka, Alaska, the No. 1 propeller was feathered by the captain, who requested a diversion to Sandspit. As the plane was landing, it touched down about a third of the way down the runway; at around the midpoint, power was applied and the plane took off, but stalled due to the steep climb and plunged into the water at the end of the runway. The cause of the crash was icing on the plane causing the nose gear to not be able to be retracted. 36 7
2 April 2, 1956 Boeing Stratocruiser Puget Sound, Washington Flight 2 crashed after takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on a flight to Portland, Oregon, Chicago and New York City. The pilots ditched the aircraft into Puget Sound, 5.4 miles (8.7 km) off Seattle. 5 2 31
710 March 17, 1960 Lockheed L-188 Electra Cannelton, Indiana Flight 710 was en route to Miami from Chicago when the aircraft lost a wing at approximately 18,000 feet near Tell City, Indiana. 63
1–11 July 14, 1960 Douglas DC-7 Pacific Ocean near Manila, Philippines Northwest 1–11 was flying from New York City to Manila, Philippines, with stops in Seattle, Anchorage (Cold Bay), Tokyo, and Okinawa. The plane was on its final leg between Okinawa and Manila when the No. 2 engine experienced power loss. The propeller then separated from the plane and hit the fuselage, slashing a 15-inch hole. The pilot decided to ditch the plane in the Pacific Ocean about 77.5 miles (124.7 km) NE of Manila. Upon impact, the rear of the plane separated as well as the engines and right wing. The majority of survivors used the right wing, which floated for three hours as a liferaft until rescue came. 1 58
104 October 28, 1960 Douglas C-54 Missoula, Montana Flight 104 was flying from Spokane to Missoula when it crashed about 20 miles (30 km) W of Missoula in the Clark Fork Valley. The plane was seen making a steep left banking turn with nose up; the plane continued rolling and crashed inverted. The crash was attributed to pilot error. 12
706 September 16, 1961 Lockheed L-188 Electra Chicago, Illinois Flight 706 was on a routine flight from Milwaukee to Miami, with stops in Chicago, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale. While departing from Chicago, the plane banked to the right and gradually descended until hitting the ground. The cause of the crash was mechanical failure in the ailerons 37
705 February 12, 1963 Boeing 720 Florida Everglades Flight 705, flying from Miami to Chicago crashed in the Florida Everglades approximately 37 miles (60 km) SW of Miami International Airport, while diverting to avoid bad weather. The cause of the crash was determined an unrecoverable loss of control due to severe turbulence. 43
293 June 3, 1963 Douglas DC-7 Pacific Ocean
near Annette Island, Alaska
Flight 293 was flying a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) flight from McChord Air Force Base outside Tacoma, Washington, to Elmendorf Air Force Base outside Anchorage, Alaska. While in flight, contact was lost. Floating debris from the plane was located 182.5 miles (293.7 km) WSW of Annette Island. The cause of the crash was never determined 101
6231 December 1, 1974 Boeing 727 Stony Point, New York Flight 6231 was flying on a ferry flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Buffalo when it crashed in the vicinity of Stony Point. As the plane was cleared to climb, the airspeed and rate of climb increased, until the plane stalled and descended out of control into a wooded area. The cause of the crash was due to loss of control because "the flight crew failed to realize and correct the aircraft's high-angle-of-attack, low-speed stall and descending spiral". 3
255 August 16, 1987 McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 Romulus, Michigan Flight 255 crashed on takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. All but one aboard the MD-82 died. The cause of the crash was found to be attempted take off with the wrong wing flap setting. 154 1 2
1482 December 3, 1990 Douglas DC-9 Romulus, Michigan Flight 1482, a DC-9-10 departing for Pittsburgh collided with Flight 299, a Boeing 727–200, departing for Memphis at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport near the intersection of runways 09/27 and 03C/21C in dense fog. The 727 had begun its takeoff roll, and the DC-9 had just taxied onto the active runway. None of the 146 passengers and 10 crew members aboard the 727 were injured, but the DC-9 sustained serious damage. 8 10 26
299 December 3, 1990 Boeing 727 Romulus, Michigan Involved in collision with Flight 1482 detailed in the previous line. 156
Total casualties Fatal Serious Minor Uninjured Ground
(20 incidents) 620 18 89 187 4

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