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American Airlines Flight 63 (Flagship Missouri)

American Airlines Flight 63
Douglas DC-3 (American Airlines) "Flagship Detroit" (4851531441).jpg
An American Airlines DC-3 similar to the Flagship Missouri.
Date15 October 1943
SummaryControlled flight into terrain due to icing
SiteCenterville, Tennessee
35°47′18″N 87°27′21″W / 35.78833°N 87.45583°W / 35.78833; -87.45583
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-3-178
Aircraft nameFlagship Missouri
OperatorAmerican Airlines
Flight originCleveland, Ohio
1st stopoverColumbus, Ohio
2nd stopoverDayton, Ohio
3rd stopoverCincinnati, Ohio
4th stopoverLouisville, Kentucky
Last stopoverNashville, Tennessee
DestinationMemphis, Tennessee

American Airlines Flight 63 was an American Airlines DC-3 nicknamed the Flagship Missouri that crashed on October 15, 1943, near Centerville, Tennessee, after ice formed on its wings and propeller. All eight passengers and three crewmembers perished.[1] This was the second fatal crash of Flight 63, occurring two-and-a-half months after the crash of the Flagship Missouri’s sister ship, the Flagship Ohio.

Flight history

American Airlines Flight 63 serviced a 6-leg domestic passenger service between Cleveland, Ohio, and Memphis, Tennessee. The full routing of the flight was Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati-Louisville-Nashville-Memphis.[1] Up until July 28, 1943, this route was serviced by the Flagship Missouri's sister ship, the Flagship Ohio. The Flagship Ohio was lost on the Louisville-Nashville leg of the flight, when the severe downdrafts of a nearby thunderstorm forced the DC-3 to crash into a field near Trammel, Kentucky.[citation needed]

After the loss of the Flagship Ohio, the Flagship Missouri covered Flight 63. The Flagship Missouri was a DC-3 built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for American Airlines. It had been in service for seven years, since 1936, and had logged a total of 17,774 hours of flight time at the time of the crash.[1] The three crewmembers were Captain Dale F. Dryer, pilot, First Officer W. J. Brand, and stewardess Margaret Jewell Schmuck. [2]


Flight 63 departed from Cleveland, Ohio, at 5:56 pm, 17 minutes behind schedule. The stops at Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Louisville were also delayed. By the time the flight departed Nashville, it was running 1 hour, 38 minutes late. [1]

Departure from Nashville proceeded normally, and the pilot radioed to air traffic control (ATC) that he had reached an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,800 m) at 10:59 PM. At 11:06 PM, the flight requested and received permission from Nashville ATC to climb to 8,000 feet (2,400 m). [1] Ice which had formed on the wings and propellers of the aircraft made it impossible for the aircraft to maintain altitude. The plane gradually lost altitude until it crashed into a forested hill that rose up 75 feet (23 m) above the surrounding terrain. [1]

Eyewitnesses told reporters that the plane "circled desperately" in search of a safe landing place before plummeting into a deep gulch. [2] Local woodsmen observed the plane's landing attempts and later heard the crash, but were unable to summon help or report it due to the lack of telephones in the area. The wreckage was discovered the following morning by woodcutter John Durison. [2]

The Civil Aeronautics Board investigated the crash and determined that ice that had formed on the propeller or wings made it impossible for the pilot to control the altitude of the aircraft.

Inability of the aircraft to gain or maintain altitude due to carburetor ice or propeller ice or wing ice of some combination of these icing conditions while over terrain and in weather unsuitable for an emergency landing.... Weather conditions which, had their nature been anticipated, should have precluded the dispatch of the flight in an aircraft not equipped with wing or propeller deicing equipment.

— Civil Aeronautics Board, CAB File No. 4889-43

The ten passengers included two captains and an aviation cadet, as well as a Texan and four Tennessee residents. The dead included Blan R. Maxwell, the Speaker of the Tennessee State Senate. [2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Accident description for American Airlines Flight 63 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2009-05-24.
  2. ^ a b c d U.P. (October 17, 1943), "TEN PERSONS KILLED IN AIRLINER CRASH", The Star (Anniston, Alabama) Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |newspaper= (help)