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Photo ID: 1015031
click image to enlarge
Model: C-53-DO, DC3A-S1C3G Registration: 120067, N51071
Year: 1941 Serial Number: c/n 4837, 41-20067
Engine(s): P&W R1830-92, 1200-HP, converted to -94, 1350-HP Owner: USAAF
Location: Photographer: From the collection of Ken Stoltzfus
Date: Pre 9/45 Present Registration: Destroyed Present Owner (FAA info):
Notes: 6/25/04 - Wow, what a shot! I'd love to have a library full of photos like this. There is a Northrop P-61 Black Widow under maintenance on the left; I believe a Dauntless SBD under the C-53 tail; a Noorduyn Norseman with its cowling off, to the right of the Dauntless; and a Beechcraft AT-10, 42-2235 under the C-53 nose.

It looks like the C-53 is being leveled, to weigh it. I've done that and it feels like the tail is in the clouds. I was always happy to get it back down.

This aircraft went to General Motors in Detroit in 1945 as NC61677, most certainly for executive use. In 1953 it became N5107. Next owner was Michigan Technical Development Fund in Houghton, MI in 1967, and I suspect that GM donated it to them. It was now N51071. Barrington Optical Co. of Barrington, IL was next, in 1970; followed by J. Fontana Aviation in 1973; Basler Flight Services in 1974 and Hawkeye Airlines of Ottumwa, IA a few months later.

National Jet Services, trading as Air Indiana bought it in 1976. According to info on the 'net, all 29 aboard died when the aircraft crashed on take-off in rain and fog. The following is taken from the ASN Safety Database.

"The DC-3, chartered to fly the Evansville basketball team to Nashville lost control and crashed shortly after take-off from runway 18. PROBABLE CAUSE: An attempted take-off with the rudder and right aileron control locks installed, in combination with a rearward centre of gravity, which resulted in the aircraft's rotating to a nose-high attitude immediately after take-off, and entering the region of reversed command from which the pilot was unable to recover. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the flight crew to ensure that the passenger baggage was loaded in accordance with the configuration contained on the load manifest. Their failure resulted in a rearward centre of gravity that was aft of the optimum range, but forward of the rearmost limit."

Pilots ought to think this through and consider how a crew can get themselves into such a predicament. Rudder control is a pretty important part of flying a DC-3. How could the crew have missed the fact that the locks were on? What kind of pressures so distracted them? What are the lessons in this tragic event? According to the FAA accident report the 42-year old captain had 9100 hours total time and 4600 hours in type. Anything potentially instructive about that?
 
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