Accident Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor NC7864, Saturday 18 May 1935
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Date:Saturday 18 May 1935
Type:Silhouette image of generic TRIM model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor
Owner/operator:Knowles Flying Service
Registration: NC7864
MSN: 4-AT-49
Year of manufacture:1928
Engine model:Wright J-5 Whirlwind
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 12
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:Flint-Bishop Airport, MI (FNT) -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Flint-Bishop Airport, MI (FNT/KFNT)
Destination airport:Flint-Bishop Airport, MI (FNT/KFNT)
Investigating agency: CAB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor, NC7864, crash-landed at Flint-Bishop Airport, MI (FNT), killing one passenger and a pilot. The other pilot and eight passengers survived the accident.
The airplane was used throughout the day for local flights during dedication celebrations of Flint-Bishop Airport.
On take-off for one of these flights, the right outboard engine was misfiring and just after clearing the north boundary of the airport and at an altitude of approximately 75 feet, this engine stopped entirely. The pilot immediately made a 90 degree turn to the right and flew parallel with the airport until reaching the northeast corner. Evidence indicates that the center engine stopped at this time, leaving only the left outboard engine functioning. The altitude of the plane was then between 100 and 150 feet. The pilot at this point attempted a right downwind turn in an effort to effect a landing on the airport but due to loss of flying speed and the pull of the left outboard engine, the plane stalled, started a spin to the right and struck the ground with the right wing and then bounced over on its nose and left wing, finally coming to rest with the nose in the ground and the tail up in the air.

An inspection disclosed that there were 22 gallons of fuel remaining, 11 in each of the two tanks. This would be sufficient to keep the three engines running while flying in level position but is not sufficient when the plane is in a climb.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Carelessness and negligence on the part of the pilot for not replenishing his fuel supply before it got dangerously low and poor judgement on his part for attempting to return to the airport when there was open terrain ahead of him."

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


The Ford Tri-Motor 1926-1992 / William T. Larkins
St. Petersburg Times - May 19, 1935

Revision history:


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