On November 23, 1962 at approximately 12:24 P.M. EDT, it crashed just northwest of what is now Columbia, Maryland after striking a flock of whistling swans while cruising at 6,000 feet (1,800 m). The bird strike caused the horizontal stabilizer to separate, leading to loss of control and the crash which killed all on board. The crew were Captain Milton J. Balog, Copilot Robert J. Lewis, and Stewardesses Mary Kathryn Kline and Kaaren G. Brent. Captain Balog had been with Capital Airlines, which had operated Viscount N7430 (s/n 128) prior to Capital's merger with United.
Four crewmen and 13 passengers were killed, including six off-duty persons employed by United. Ten other victims were from the upstate New York area, including Spencer V. Silverthorne, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
As of March 2013, Flight 297 is now used as a YYZ-SFO-SAN route.