Pan Am Flight 214
|Date||December 8, 1963|
|Site||Elkton, Maryland, United States
|Aircraft type||Boeing 707-121|
|Aircraft name||Clipper Tradewind|
|Operator||Pan American World Airways|
|Flight origin||Luis Muñoz Marín Int'l Airport|
|Stopover||Baltimore/Washington Int'l Airport|
|Destination||Philadelphia Int'l Airport|
Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707-121 registered as N709PA, was en route from Baltimore to Philadelphia on December 8, 1963, when it crashed near Elkton, Maryland after being hit by lightning, killing all 81 on board.
Flight history 
On December 8, 1963, Pan American 214, operating as Clipper[nb 1] Tradewind departed Isla Verde International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 4:10pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) for a flight to Baltimore's Friendship Airport (now Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, or BWI), where 69 passengers disembarked.
At 8:24 p.m. EST, flight 214 departed for Philadelphia with 73 passengers and 8 crew members on board. Because of high winds in the area, the crew chose to wait in a holding pattern with five other airplanes rather than attempt to land in Philadelphia.
At 8:58 p.m. EST, while in the holding pattern, the aircraft was hit by lightning, which ignited fuel vapors in the No. 1 (left) reserve tank, causing an explosion that blew apart the outer portion of the jetliner's port wing. The crew of flight 214 managed to transmit a final message – "Mayday, mayday, mayday ... Clipper 214 out of control ... here we go" – before it crashed near Elkton, Maryland. All 81 people on board were killed.
Probable Cause: Lightning-induced ignition of the fuel/air mixture in the no. 1 reserve fuel tank with resultant explosive disintegration of the left outer wing and loss of control.
FAA reaction 
As a result of the crash of Flight 214, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered lightning discharge wicks (or static discharger) to be installed on all commercial jets flying inside US airspace.
Volatile fuel vapor recommendation 
On December 17, 1963, nine days after the crash of flight 214, Leon H. Tanguay, director of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) Bureau of Safety, sent a letter to the FAA recommending several safety modifications as part of future aircraft design. One modification related specifically to volatile fuel vapors that can form inside of partly empty fuel tanks, which may be ignited by various potential ignition sources and cause an explosion. Mr Tanguay's letter suggested reducing the volatility of the fuel/air gas mixture by introducing an inert gas, or by using air circulation. Thirty-three years later[nb 2] a similar recommendation was issued by the NTSB (the CAB Bureau of Safety's successor) after the TWA Flight 800 Boeing 747 crash on July 17, 1996, with 230 fatalities, which was also determined to have been caused by the explosion of a volatile mixture inside a fuel tank.
Guinness World Record 
The crash of Pan Am flight 214 was registered in the Guinness Book of World Records (2005) as the "Worst Lightning Strike Death Toll." (In 1971, LANSA Flight 508 was also brought down by a lightning strike. However, though this crash would have more total casualties (91 fatalities), up to fourteen passengers survived the crash but perished waiting for help in the Peruvian jungle.)
See also 
- Lists of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
- Air safety
- TWA Flight 800
- AIRES Flight 8250
Notes and citations 
- "Pan Am Flight 214 CAB report (PDF) (Historical Aircraft Accident, 1963, Pan Am)".
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2006-06-12.
- "Civil Aeronautics Board report". Retrieved 2006-06-12.
- Khurana, K.C. "Aviation Management: Global Perspectives". Global India Publications PVT LTD. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- "Plane Crash Info Entry". Retrieved 2011-01-09.
- TWA 800 NTSB AAR-00/03 Final Report, adopted August 23, 2000
- archive.org copy of Guinness Book of World Records entry for Pan Am flight 214
- Civil Aeronautics Board reports (digitized versions).