American Airlines Flight 514

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American Airlines Flight 514
The wreckage of Flight 514 at the crash site
Date August 15, 1959
Summary Loss of control due to improper flight controls
Site Calverton, NY
40°56′42.83″N 72°46′45.57″W / 40.9452306°N 72.7793250°W / 40.9452306; -72.7793250Coordinates: 40°56′42.83″N 72°46′45.57″W / 40.9452306°N 72.7793250°W / 40.9452306; -72.7793250
Aircraft type Boeing 707-123
Operator American Airlines
Registration N7514A
Flight origin Idlewild International Airport
Passengers 0
Crew 5
Fatalities 5
Survivors 0

American Airlines Flight 514 was a training flight from Idlewild International Airport, to Calverton Executive Airpark. On the afternoon of August 15, 1959, the Boeing 707 operating the flight crashed near the Calverton airport, killing all five crew members aboard. This was the first accident to ever involve a Boeing 707, which had only gone into service the previous year.


The aircraft was a Boeing 707-123 with registration N7514A, nicknamed "Flagship Connecticut". Its first flight was in 1959, and when the crash occurred, the aircraft had accumulated 736 total flight hours.[1] The 707s had gone into service with American on January 25, with flights from New York to Los Angeles.

The Calverton airfield was used frequently by American Airlines for training purposes for crew members on 707s, and was known then as the Grumman Aircraft Corp. field.[2]


The 707 departed Idlewild at 13:40, accomplished high altitude air work after takeoff to permit sufficient fuel burn-off for airport transition training which was planned at Calverton, and arrived in the area around 15:11. Flight 514 accomplished several maneuvers, including full-stop landings, crosswind landings and takeoffs, a high off-set approach, simulated engine out landings, and a no-flap aborted approach to landing. The aircraft did not retract its landing gear following the last aborted approach to landing on Runway 23, but continued in the traffic pattern at an estimated altitude between 1,000 and 1,100 feet. The crew reported on left base leg for Runway 23, was given clearance to land, and was informed that the wind was from 230 degrees at 10 to 15 knots. As it approached the extended centerline of the runway, around 16:42, it made a left bank, steepening to approximately 45 degrees. The aircraft was then observed to recover immediately to level flight and to begin a bank to the right which became progressively steeper. The right bank continued until the aircraft was inverted, at which time the nose dropped and a yaw to the left was observed. The 707 then continued to roll to the right in a nose down configuration. The wings then leveled. Investigation revealed the aircraft struck the ground in a wings-level attitude, in a nearly stalled condition, yawed to the left approximately 12 degrees, with considerable and nearly symmetrical power. The aircraft crashed in a potato field, a fire erupted on impact, and all five aboard were killed.[1] The crash occurred only a few miles from the Brookhaven National Laboratories, a site of key secret nuclear work.[2]

The fire continued to burn for over an hour after the crash, hampering emergency crews in their efforts to remove the bodies of the crew. The Air Force sent several pieces of fire equipment to the scene. Eventually, a large crowd gathered at the crash site as word spread over radio and television newscasts, and people drove from resorts and towns in the area to see the wreckage. The crash followed a series of 707 emergencies, none involving fatalities, in recent weeks involving passenger flights, the first occurring on February 3, 1959, when a Pan Am 707 nose dived over the Atlantic and landed safely in Gander. This was followed by four landing gear breakdowns on jets operated by Pan Am and American Airlines.[2]


The probable cause suggested was that "the crew failed to recognize and correct the development of excessive yaw which caused an unintentional rolling maneuver at an altitude too low to permit complete recovery." Subsequent to the accident, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) discontinued the requirement that Boeing 707 aircraft make actual landings with simulated failure of 50 percent of the power units concentrated on one side of the aircraft during training flights, type ratings, and proficiency checks. These maneuvers may now be simulated at an appropriate higher altitude. On February 5, 1960, Boeing issued a service bulletin for an improved rudder modification which adds boost power to the wider ranges of directional movement, and gives increased control capability at low airspeeds and minimum gross weight. This modification also replaces the original rudder with an improved version.[1]

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