Braniff Flight 250
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (July 2013)|
|Date||August 6, 1966|
|Summary||In-flight structural failure|
|Aircraft type||BAC 1-11-203AE|
Braniff Airways Flight 250 crashed near Falls City, Nebraska, on August 6, 1966. It was en route to Omaha, Nebraska, from Kansas City, Missouri. Thirty-eight passengers and four crew members were killed in the crash.
The plane was a BAC 1-11-203AE, registration number N1553.
Flight 250 was operated by Braniff between New Orleans and Minneapolis – Saint Paul with stops in between at Shreveport, Ft. Smith, Tulsa, Kansas City and Omaha. It departed Kansas City at 22:55 on an IFR clearance to Omaha at FL200. However, the crew asked if they could remain at 5000 feet because of the weather. The flight remained at 6000 feet until permission was received at 23:06 to descend to 5000 feet. At 23:08 the crew contacted a company flight that had just departed Omaha. This flight reported moderate to light turbulence. About four minutes later the aircraft entered an updraft within an area of active squall line of severe thunderstorms. The 1-11 violently accelerated upward and in a left roll. At this time the right tailplane and the fin failed. The aircraft then pitched nose down and within one or two seconds the right wing failed as well. The plane tumbled down in flames until stabilizing into a flat spin before impacting the ground. The probable cause was in-flight structural failure caused by extreme turbulence during operation of the aircraft in an area of avoidable hazardous weather.
Braniff regulations prohibited a plane from being dispatched into an area with a solid line of thunderstorms; however the company forecast was somewhat inaccurate with respect to the number and intensity of thunderstorms and the intensity of the associated turbulence. Braniff dispatchers were aware that their flight 255 had delayed departing Sioux City for Omaha by one hour to allow the storm to pass Omaha; they also knew that their flight 234 from St. Louis to Des Moines had diverted to Kansas City due to the storm. They did not inform the crew of these events believing they were too far from the route of flight 250 to be relevant.
Dr. Ted Fujita, a renowned weather researcher and professor of meteorology at the University of Chicago, was hired by British Aircraft Corporation, the manufacturer of the BAC 1-11, to study how the weather affected the jet. Dr. Fujita is recognized as the discoverer of downbursts and microbursts and also developed the Fujita scale, which differentiates tornado intensity and links tornado damage with wind speed.
A memorial was placed at the crash site in a farm field northeast of Falls City, Nebraska, on August 6, 2006, the 40th anniversary of the crash.
This crash is covered in detail in the book Air Disaster (Vol. 1) by Macarthur Job, illustrated by Matthew Tesch.
- NTSB brief of the accident National Transportation Safety Board
- Full NTSB report of the accident (PDF) Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- BAC 111 N1553 BraniffPages.com
- Braniff 250 Pilotfriend
- Satellite image of crash location Google Maps