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

Portland Airport, ME – March 29, 1956

Portland Airport

Portland, Maine – March 29, 1956


     On the evening of March 29, 1956, Northeast Airlines Flight 124 departed La Guardia Airport in New York City bound for Bangor, Maine, with stops at Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.

     The aircraft was a Convair 240, registration # N90659, with 32 passengers and a flight crew of 3 aboard.

     The weather was snowy, and the flight was made on instrument flight rules.  The flight landed at Boston’s Logan Airport without incident, and departed for Portland at 9:20 p.m.

     When the flight arrived at Portland Airport, tower personnel saw the aircraft approaching runway 20, but lost sight of it briefly due to the weather.  It then reappeared, approaching the runway with its landing lights on in an apparently normal final approach.  Just after the aircraft landed the landing gear collapsed and after a short distance the nose suddenly plowed into the snow and the tail section went up in the air before dropping back to the ground. 

     Rescue vehicles were immediately dispatched.  Passengers were evacuated through the front of the plane due to the elevated tail section.  As with any aviation accident, fire is always a possibility after a crash.  The crew did their best to make for a quick evacuation of passengers, but some insisted upon retrieving their personal belongings before leaving the plane.   Thankfully, there was no fire and all aboard were evacuated safely, with only five passengers suffering minor injuries.

     Investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was due to inoperable runway lights on the right side of the runway, as well as other runways lights not being visible to the flight crew due to being covered by heavy drifting snow.   This combined with poor visibility caused the aircraft to set down to the left of the runway. 

     In the final analysis under “Probable Cause”, the Civil Aeronautics Board investigators stated in their report, “The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was inadequate maintenance of runway lights and incorrect reporting of their condition resulting in an illusionary position of the runway under conditions of low visibility.”


     Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, #1-0048, Adopted September 11, 1956, released September 14, 1956.     

Logan Airport, MA – November 15, 1961

Logan Airport, Boston, Massachusetts – November 15, 1961



Diagram from Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Investigation Report

Diagram from Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Investigation Report

      On the evening of November 15, 1961, (about 47 minutes after sunset), two commercial airliners collided on the ground at the intersection of runways 9 and 4R at Boston’s Logan Airport.

     At about 5:09 p.m. National Airlines Flight 429, a DC-6B, (N8228H), was crossing Runway 9 in anticipation of take off when it collided with Northeast Airlines Flight 120, a Vickers Viscount, (N6592C), that had just landed on Runway 4R. 

     After the collision, Flight 120 lurched to the left, went through the runways lights, and came to rest off the runway about 1,000 feet from the intersection.  Part of the left wing was severed from the aircraft and although fuel was leaking from ruptured wing tanks there was no fire.     

     Meanwhile, Flight 429 also swerved to the left and came to rest about 150 feet off the runway and 800 feet from the intersection.  Despite ruptured fuel lines there was no fire.  

     Although both aircraft were heavily damaged, there were no serious injuries suffered by anyone on either aircraft.  Four passengers aboard Flight 120 suffered minor cuts and scrapes while deplaning.

Diagram showing both aircraft at rest after collision. Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Accident Report.

Diagram showing both aircraft at rest after collision.
Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Accident Report.

     Click on image to enlarge.          

     Source: Civil Aeronautics Board Aircraft Accident Report #1-0021, adopted Aug. 15, 1962, released August 21, 1962            

Boston Airport – September 15, 1941

Boston Airport, Massachusetts – September 15, 1941


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 15, 1941, a U.S. Army P-40C fighter aircraft (Ser. No. 41-13393) was cleared for take off from Boston Airport.  As the army plane was becoming airborne it was involved in a collision with a Stinson civilian aircraft (NE-87) belonging to Northeast Airlines, Inc.

     The army pilot escaped with minor injuries.  However, the Stinson pilot, and two of the three passengers were seriously injured.

     The P-40 was assigned to the 66th Pursuit Squadron in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-9-15-3, dated September 17, 1941


Martha’s Vineyard – June 22, 1971

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – June 22, 1971

    On the morning of June 22, 1971, Northeast Airlines, Flight 938, left Kennedy International Airport in New York bound for New Bedford, Massachusetts.  From New Bedford, it was to travel to Martha’s Vineyard.  The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, (N982NE) arrived at New Bedford without incident, and departed at 8:22 a.m., and proceeded to Martha’s Vineyard.    

     While on final approach to Martha’s Vineyard Airport under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) the airplane struck the water about three miles from the end of Runway 24.  The impact caused minor damage, and the airplane was able to remain airborne.  Fortunately,  none of the five crewmembers and thee passengers aboard were injured, but the incident still needed to be reported as an aviation accident.     

     Source: National Transportation Safety Board Aircraft Accident report # NTSB-AAR 72-4, File # 4-0001, adopted December 29, 1971.

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