National Airlines Flight 83

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National Airlines Flight 83
Douglas DC-4 U. S. Overseas Airlines (8253051116).jpg
A DC-4 similar to the accident aircraft
Date14 January 1951 (1951-01-14)
SummaryOver-shoot on icy runway, resulting in a fire
SitePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
39°52′20.17″N 75°14′14.89″W / 39.8722694°N 75.2374694°W / 39.8722694; -75.2374694Coordinates: 39°52′20.17″N 75°14′14.89″W / 39.8722694°N 75.2374694°W / 39.8722694; -75.2374694
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-4
OperatorNational Airlines
Flight originNewark International Airport (EWR/KEWR)
DestinationPhiladelphia International Airport (PHL/KPHL)

National Airlines Flight 83 was a United States domestic flight from Newark International Airport, serving New York City, to Philadelphia. On January 14, 1951, the Douglas DC-4 of National Airlines crashed on landing at Philadelphia International Airport. The aircraft over-shot the runway, ran into a ditch and caught fire. Of the 28 people on board, 7 were killed and 11 injured. One of the dead was the lone flight attendant, Frankie Housley, who had gone back into the burning aircraft to try to save more passengers.


On arrival at Philadelphia International Airport, the pilots tried to land the aircraft too far down the runway, instead of aborting the approach.[1] The runway was icy; the aircraft over-shot, running through a fence and into a ditch. The left wing broke off, rupturing the gasoline tanks, and the airplane caught fire. Of 28 people on board, including 3 crew, 7 were killed, including two infants and the one flight attendant on board. It is the only fatal aviation accident at the airport.[2]

Frankie Housley[edit]

Mary Frances "Frankie" Housley was the lone flight attendant on the flight.[2][3] She opened the emergency door and saw the ground eight feet below. Returning to the cabin, she helped passengers release their seat belts, guided them to the door and gave a gentle shove to those who were hesitant to jump. After seeing 10 people to safety, she returned to the cabin to try to rescue a baby. After the fire was extinguished, the bodies of five women and two infants were found, including Housley with a four-month-old infant in her arms.[2][4]


  1. ^ "Accident report of National Airlines Flight 83". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Stu Bykofsky (August 12, 2013). "Philadelphia's forgotten airline heroine needs a better memorial". Philadelphia Inquirer.
  3. ^ J.C. (Jim) Tumblin. "Fountain Citians Who Made A Difference". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  4. ^ "Take Your Time". Time. January 22, 1951. Retrieved November 26, 2016.