Portland, ME. – August 11, 1949

Portland, Maine – August 11, 1949


Vintage Post Card View Of
Northeast Airlines Convair N91237

     On the morning of August 11, 1949 a Northeast Airlines, Convair CV-240-13 airliner, (Reg. No. NC91241), took off from Boston’s Logan Airport with a crew of three and twenty-five passengers.  The flight was designated as Flight 812A, bound for the Portland International Airport in Maine. 

     Among the crew were the pilot, co-pilot, and a rookie stewardess, 23-year-old Patricia Donnellan of North Quincy, Massachusetts.  

    The aircraft was new, and had only been in service four months.  

    The flight was uneventful until the aircraft was making its final approach to land on runway 20.  Just before the aircraft was to touch down, while at an altitude between 15 and 25 feet, the pilot throttled back.  At that time the throttle reverse locking mechanism  which was designed to prevent the throttle from being brought too far back failed, causing the propellers to malfunction, which caused the aircraft to drop hard onto the runway.  Then the landing gear collapsed, and the aircraft skidded on its belly for 1,065 feet before coming to rest.  During the skid the fuel tanks ruptured, and sparks created by the propellers scraping along the runway ignited the fuel and engines.

     When the aircraft came to rest, Miss Donnellan immediately tried to open the front exit, but discovered that it wouldn’t open, and flames outside the aircraft blocked emergency exits to the wings.    She then made her way to the rear of the plane and opened the rear door and calmly instructed the passengers to come to the back of the plane. 

     There was no panic, and Miss Donnellan was credited for her calm demeanor during the emergency.  Although the aircraft was destroyed by the flames, there were no injuries to crew or passengers.    


     The Evening Star, (Washington, D. C. ), “Stewardess Leads 27 To Safety Just Before Fire Engulfs Plane”, August 12, 1949

     Aviation Safety Network

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