Accident Douglas DC-6B N91303, Monday 20 April 1953
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Date:Monday 20 April 1953
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Douglas DC-6B
Owner/operator:Western Air Lines
Registration: N91303
MSN: 43823/298
Year of manufacture:1952
Total airframe hrs:826 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16
Fatalities:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 10
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:San Francisco Bay, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO/KSFO)
Destination airport:Oakland International Airport, CA (OAK/KOAK)
Investigating agency: CAB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Western Flight 636 was a scheduled flight from Los Angeles to Oakland with an intermediate stop at San Francisco. The DC-6 departed San Francisco's runway 28R at 23:05 for s short VFR flight across the bay to Oakland. The flight was to remain clear of clouds at a minimum altitude of 500 feet.
The crew were cleared to enter the traffic pattern for Oakland's runway 27R, three minutes later. On approach, the aircraft descended into the bay and crashed.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The pilot's action in continuing a descent below the 500-foot prescribed minimum altitude until the aircraft struck the water. A probable contributing factor to the aircraft striking the water was the sensory illusion experienced by the pilots."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAB
Report number: final report
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


CAB File No. 1-0020
ICAO Accident Digest Circular 39-AN/34 (67-71)


  • 82nd worst accident in 1953
  • 51st worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 10th worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Revision history:


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