Eastern Air Lines Flight 375

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Eastern Air Lines Flight 375
Wreckage of the Lockheed L-188
Accident summary
Date 4 October 1960
Summary Bird strike
Site Boston, Massachusetts, USA
42°21′57″N 70°59′18″W / 42.36583°N 70.98833°W / 42.36583; -70.98833Coordinates: 42°21′57″N 70°59′18″W / 42.36583°N 70.98833°W / 42.36583; -70.98833
Passengers 67
Crew 5
Injuries (non-fatal) 10
Fatalities 62
Survivors 10
Aircraft type Lockheed L-188 Electra
Operator Eastern Air Lines
Registration N5533

Eastern Air Lines Flight 375, registration N5533, was a Lockheed L-188 Electra aircraft that crashed on takeoff from Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts on 4 October 1960. 62 of 72 on board were killed in the accident; ten survived, nine with serious injuries.

N5533 and its crew came into Logan that day as Flight 444 from New York City's LaGuardia Airport. The plane and crew turned around in Boston as Flight 375, which was scheduled to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. The pilots had filed an IFR flight plan that would have had the aircraft cruising to Philadelphia at 10,000 feet. At 5:35 PM, the aircraft pulled away from the terminal and taxied to the threshold of Runway 09 for an easterly departure; the tower cleared it for takeoff at 5:39 PM.

The takeoff was normal until approximately six seconds after liftoff. At that point the aircraft encountered a large flock of starlings. The aircraft veered to the left for a moment then resumed the runway heading. At a height of 200 feet the airplane veered left again and sank nose-up to about 100 feet in altitude. It then rolled to the left, the nose dropped, and the aircraft crashed into Winthrop Bay.

The fuselage broke into two pieces; eight passengers and two flight attendants in the rear section were thrown out of their seats and were quickly picked up by boats already in the bay. The front section sank to the bottom of the bay, taking the majority of the passengers and the flight crew with it. The entire accident sequence from the beginning of takeoff to the impact in the water took less than one minute.

Within moments volunteer rescuers were wading through mud at low tide to pull bodies ashore. Most of the passengers were trapped in their seats as some of the dead floated to the surface like corks. Many on board were trapped with the belts still fastened. Rescuers found them with heads down in the muddy water. There was a scene of horror in the setting sun as lifeless bodies strapped to seats drifted toward the muddy shore at low tide.

There were 51 bodies in the Boston mortuary, 48 of which were identified. All 11 survivors, including the plane's two stewardesses, were in hospitals, many were in critical condition with cuts, bruises, broken limbs and some having swallowed oil and/or jet fuel.

Among the passengers were 15 Marine recruits who had been inducted earlier in the day. They were bound for training camp. Some of their relatives saw the crash from an observation deck at the main terminal building at the airport. A mysterious 'secret document' was also reported as missing, but was soon found floating in debris in a portfolio. State police said it was carried by a representative of the Air Force. It was turned over to the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.

The crash was the second involving an Electra in less than three weeks. In three previous Electra crashes, a total of 162 persons died. In one at La Guardia Airport on Sept. 14, all on board escaped without serious injury.
The New York TimesOctober 5, 1960

Investigators with the Civil Aeronautics Board (the predecessor of the NTSB) determined that engines Nos. 1, 2, and 4 had each ingested at least one bird, and that engine No. 1 had ingested at least eight. The bird damage caused the No. 1 propeller to autofeather and the engine to shut down at the same time that damage to the No. 2 and No. 4 engines prevented those engines from developing full power at a critical stage of flight. The aircraft, unable to climb, went into a mush[citation needed]. The power interruption to the port engines probably caused the left wing to stall; the wing dropped and the aircraft crashed into the water. There was also evidence that birds had crashed into the windscreen, reducing the pilots' visibility; in addition, bird remains had clogged the Pitot tubes, making the pilots' airspeed indicators unreliable.

It was eventually determined that turboprop engines such as those on the Electra were highly sensitive to damage from bird strikes. The CAB recommended to the CAA, the predecessor of the FAA, that steps be taken to reduce the damage caused by bird strikes to turbine engines, and that ways be found to reduce the populations of birds around airports.

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