Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708
|Date||February 18, 1969|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain, pilot error|
|Site||Mount Whitney, Inyo County, near Lone Pine, California, USA|
|Aircraft type||Douglas DC-3|
|Operator||Hawthorne Nevada Airlines|
Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708 was a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight between Hawthorne Industrial Airport, Nevada (HTH) and Hollywood-Burbank Airport, California (BUR/KBUR), that crashed into the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, near Lone Pine, on February 18, 1969, killing all 35 passengers and crew on board.
History of flight
The aircraft, a Douglas DC-3, was operating on a visual flight rules plan. It departed at 3:50 A.M. PST and last contact was made at 4:06 A.M. when the flight spoke with the Tonopah Flight Service Station. One hour later, at 5:10 A.M., the plane hit a sheer cliff face on the east side of Mount Whitney at 11,770 feet (3,558 m). The main body of the wreckage then slid down the cliff and stopped some 500 feet (152 m) back from the cliff, where it caught fire. All 32 passengers and all three crew members were killed.
Search and rescue operation
Extensive searches from air and ground were launched after the aircraft went missing, but snow, low clouds, and mountainous terrain hampered the search. The aircraft was finally located on August 8, 1969. It is not thought that the delay had any impact on the lack of survivors as it is thought that all on board died on impact.
The National Transportation Safety Board launched an extensive investigation upon the location of the wreckage. Its conclusions were as follows:
The accident was caused by the deviation from the prescribed route of flight, as authorized in the company's FAA-approved operations specifications, resulting in the aircraft being operated under IFR weather conditions, in high mountainous terrain, in an area where there was a lack of radio navigation aids. The weather was also a contributing factor.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (November 2009)|
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- NTSB Report (PDF), archive.org (alternate link, airdisaster.com)
- NTSB Summary
- Transcribed AP and UPI news articles from 1969 gendisasters.com - includes names of those on board
- Brief history of Hawthorne Nevada Airlines zoggavia.com - (later Nevada Airlines)