Eastern Air Lines Flight 21
Eastern Air Lines Flight 21, registration NC28394, was a Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

 aircraft that crashed while preparing to land at Candler Field
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport , known locally as Atlanta Airport, Hartsfield Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson, is located seven miles south of the central business district of Atlanta, Georgia, United States...

 (now Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport , known locally as Atlanta Airport, Hartsfield Airport, and Hartsfield–Jackson, is located seven miles south of the central business district of Atlanta, Georgia, United States...

) in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, on February 26, 1941. Eight of the 16 on board were killed including Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 Congressman William D. Byron
William D. Byron
William Devereux Byron, II , a Democrat, was a U.S. Congressman who represented the 6th congressional district of Maryland from January 3, 1939 to February 27, 1941. After his death in an airplane crash in Georgia on February 27, 1941, his widow, Katharine Byron, a granddaughter of U.S. Senator...

. Among the injured was Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.-History:...

 president and World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 hero Eddie Rickenbacker
Eddie Rickenbacker
Edward Vernon Rickenbacker was an American fighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor recipient. He was also a race car driver and automotive designer, a government consultant in military matters and a pioneer in air transportation, particularly as the longtime head of Eastern Air Lines.-Early...


Flight 21 departed New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

's LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia Airport
LaGuardia Airport is an airport located in the northern part of Queens County on Long Island in the City of New York. The airport is located on the waterfront of Flushing Bay and Bowery Bay, and borders the neighborhoods of Astoria, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst. The airport was originally...

 on the evening of February 26, stopping briefly at Washington Hoover Airport before departing at 9:05 PM Eastern Time
North American Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

 for Atlanta. After Atlanta, it was scheduled to stop at New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, and Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, before ending its trip at Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville is a city in the southernmost tip of the state of Texas, in the United States. It is located on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Brownsville is the 16th largest city in the state of Texas with a population of...

, on the morning of the 27th. At 11:38 PM Central Time
Central Time zone
In North America, the Central Time Zone refers to national time zones which observe standard time by subtracting six hours from UTC , and daylight saving, or summer time by subtracting five hours...

, the aircraft called the Eastern Air Lines operator in Atlanta to advise that it had passed over the Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock in Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. At its summit, the elevation is 1,686 feet amsl and 825 feet above the surrounding area. Stone Mountain granite extends underground at its longest point into Gwinnett County...

 reporting point and was descending. The operator provided the pilots with the altimeter
An altimeter is an instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above a fixed level. The measurement of altitude is called altimetry, which is related to the term bathymetry, the measurement of depth underwater.-Pressure altimeter:...

 setting for Candler Field and with the current weather. Flight 21 then contacted the Atlanta control tower twice, first to advise that it was making an approach and then to advise that the aircraft was over the Atlanta range station
Non-directional beacon
A non-directional beacon is a radio transmitter at a known location, used as an aviation or marine navigational aid. As the name implies, the signal transmitted does not include inherent directional information, in contrast to other navigational aids such as low frequency radio range, VHF...

 two miles southeast of the airport at an altitude of 1800 feet (548.6 m). Eastern's company operator then contacted the flight to suggest a straight-in approach; the aircraft acknowledged the transmission, but nothing further was heard. The wreckage was found in a pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 grove five miles southeast of the Atlanta Range station just after 6:30 AM. Rescuers found a number of survivors still alive in the wreckage, including Eastern Air Lines President Eddie Rickenbacker, who had suffered a dented skull, other head injuries, shattered left elbow and crushed nerve, paralyzed left hand, several broken ribs, a crushed hip socket, twice-broken pelvis, severed nerve in his left hip, and a broken left knee. Most shocking, his left eyeball was expelled from the socket. He recovered from these after months in the hospital, and regained full eyesight.

Investigators with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the predecessor of the NTSB, determined from the evidence at the site and the survivors' testimony that the aircraft had first struck the tops of three small pine trees while the aircraft was flying in a northerly direction. The lowest tree was struck at an elevation of 915 feet (278.9 m) above sea level. Flight 21 then apparently continued across a small valley in the same direction in level flight for about 1500 feet (457.2 m) before the right wing tip struck the top of a poplar
Populus is a genus of 25–35 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar , aspen, and cottonwood....

and the aircraft crashed into a thick grove of pine trees. Captain Rickenbacker testified that he first felt a slight bump. At that point, he jumped from his seat and started to move toward the rear of the aircraft, but the aircraft crashed and he was thrown from his feet.

At the time of the accident, it was standard practice for an air carrier aircraft to have two altimeters; one set to sea level air pressure (as expressed in inches of mercury) and referred to during en route flight, and one used for instrument approaches and set to the air pressure of the airport the aircraft was about to land at. In this case, the instrument approach altimeter was found after the crash to be set to 29.92 inches of mercury. However, the altimeter setting at Candler Field on the morning of February 26 was 28.94. This setting had been transmitted to the aircraft by Eastern Air Lines's company operator at 11:38 PM and acknowledged by one of the pilots, but the approach altimeter apparently had been set incorrectly. Although the setting could have been disturbed in the crash, as seems to have happened to the en-route altimeter, the error in the setting was almost exactly one inch of mercury. This would correspond to the difference between the aircraft's actual altitude at the time of the crash and the altitude it should have had during a normal instrument approach.

The CAB issued the following statement as to probable cause:

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.