United Airlines Flight 615

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"Flight 615" redirects here. For a 1972 hijacking, see Lufthansa Flight 615 .
United Airlines Flight 615
The wreckage and remains of the accident aircraft.
Accident summary
Date August 24, 1951
Summary CFIT
Site near Decoto (now Union City), California, United States
Passengers 44
Crew 6
Fatalities 50 (all)
Aircraft type Douglas DC-6B
Operator United Airlines
Registration N37550

United Airlines Flight 615, a Douglas DC-6B with FAA registration N37550, was operating as Flight 615, which was a transcontinental east-west service serving Boston-Hartford-Cleveland-Chicago-Oakland-San Francisco. The plane was transporting 50 persons (44 passengers and 6 crew members) on August 24, 1951.[1]

The flight departed Chicago at 10:59 p.m. CST en route to Oakland. At around 4:16 a.m., the plane was approaching Oakland. At this time, the pilot, Marion W. Heddin of Los Altos, had talked with the control tower of the Civil Aeronautics Administration at the airport preparing for his landing, and had mentioned no trouble. At 4:25 a.m. Flight 615 was cleared for the straight-in approach into Oakland.

This was the last radio transmission received from the flight. The plane crashed into mountainous terrain 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Oakland, careening into Tolman Peak and over its knoll, scattering on the downslope and into Dry Gulch Canyon below in a fiery explosion. All 50 persons on board perished.

After an investigation, it was determined that the pilot ignored the prescribed instrument landing procedures. The pilot instead relied on visual reference, using the copilot's automatic direction finder (ADF). The ADF threw the plane three miles (5 km) off course and below the prescribed altitude of 3,500 feet (1,100 m).

Until 2013, United used the flight 615 designation on a Washington (National)-Chicago (O'Hare) route.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CAB Accident Investigation Report, SA-239 File No. 1-0058
    (if link above fails to load report, visit http://dotlibrary.specialcollection.net and select "Historical Aircraft Accident Reports (1934-1965)", then retry report link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°36′52″N 121°59′33″W / 37.61444°N 121.99250°W / 37.61444; -121.99250