Utah January 25, 2017
The Horrific Crash At Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park That Will Never Be Forgotten
In 1947, a United Airlines DC-6 crashed just one mile from the Bryce Canyon Airport. The horrific crash is one that will never be forgotten.
On October 24, 1947, United Airlines Flight 608 departed from Los Angeles on its way to Chicago. The plane carried 47 passengers and 5 crew members.
High above Bryce Canyon National Park, the flight ran into trouble.
At 12:21 pm, the pilot radioed that there was a fire in the baggage area and that the cabin was filling with smoke.
The pilot, Capt. Everett L. MacMillen, had 18 years of experience flying experience. He requested permission to land at Bryce Canyon Airport and began to descend.
As the plane descended, it began to break apart. The right wing came apart, and an emergency flare on the wing caught on fire.
Capt. MacMillen told the control tower, "We may make it - approaching the strip."
Witnesses later reported that the plane was about 1,500 yards from the runway, and coming in fast, when it was caught in a gust of canyon wind. The wind pulled the plane down and it lost control and crashed.
All 52 people on board were killed. At the time, this crash was the second-deadliest in U.S. history (the deadliest crash had only one more fatality).
The burning wreckage scorched an 80-foot area of land about a mile from the airport. The engines were found hundreds of feet from the plane and parts of the planes were scattered.
The wreckage of the plane was collected and taken to Douglas Aircraft Company in California.
For the first time ever, plane wreckage was reassembled so that investigators could determine the cause of the fire. Though that's standard practice for every plane crash now, in 1947 it was unheard of.
Investigators concluded that the fire had started because a cabin heater intake scoop was placed too close to a fuel tank vent. When the fuel tank was overfilled, the heater ignited fumes from the vent. Just a month after the Bryce Canyon crash, another DC-6 airliner made an emergency landing in New Mexico. Luckily, all 25 passengers were pulled from the burning plane alive. All Douglas D-C planes were recalled and redesigned.
If you enjoy learning about Utah’s history, take a look at these
12 worst disasters that ever happened here.