1. It is the opinion of the Aircraft Accident Committee that the responsibility for the crash should be divided 50% Pilot Error, 25% Material Failure, 25% Weather Station. This opinion was reached by consideration of the following items:
a. The pilot was not adequately cautious with due consideration of his cargo. There is, however, no evidence to show that he actually entered the cloud itself. Witnesses stated that the aircraft descended from the base of the coud, but an angular observation of the aircraft flying behind the cloud would give the same impression. Other witness' statement that the aircraft was silouetted by a ightning flash would tend to indicate that the aircraft was not actually within the thunderhead where visibility was practically zero.
b. The figure of 25% material failure is reached by the positive evidence that the right wing tip separated from the plane in flight. The Douglas representative states that this is entirely possible and that failure of the wing tip by turbulence might result in subsequent failure of the wing. It is also possible that the pilot was attempting a forced landing descent following failure of the wing tip, and this descent either forced him into more turbulent air or into a higher air speed with resulting failure of the wing.
Note: John Allison's report on control surface fabric...dh
Note: Jay Akin's report on control surface fabric...dh
c. 25% responsibility is assigned to the weather station for reporting excessive visibility and ceiling which would tend to create an undue feeling of confidence of the weather in the pilot's mind, and which failed to give him a vivid picture of the condition and dangers in the storm ahead. Furthermore the cold front disturbances (pre frontal thunderstorms were scattered up to 50 miles southeast of position forecast).
Richard E. Holcombe, Major AC
Richard N Beaty, Captain AC
John W. Allison, 1st Lt. AC ,