Page:Aviation Accident Report, Western Air Lines Flight 1.pdf/4

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History of the Flight

Western #1 took off from the Salt Lake City Airport at about 1:05 a.m., cleared to Burbank with a scheduled stop at Las Vegas. The flight plan called for a cruising altitude of 10,000 feet to Enterprise, Utah, descending to 8,000 feet over Mormon Mesa, Utah, landing at Las Vegas; estimated flight time to Milford, Utah, 58 minutes; Enterprise, 1 hour 18 minutes; Las Vegas, 1 hour 50 minutes.

The first and only communication contact Western #1 made was with Western's radio and dispatch officer at Salt Lake at 1:07 a.m., at which time the flight reported "off the field at Salt Lake at 1:05 a.m."

When Western #1 failed to report over Fairfield, the Salt Lake dispatcher called the flight at 1:40 a.m. and received no answer. Then followed a series of communications between the Airways Traffic Control Center at Salt Lake City and the following stations in an effort to locate Western #1: Western's radio and dispatch office, the CAA Traffic Control Tower, the CAA Communications Station, and the U. S. Weather Bureau Airport Station, all at Salt Lake; the CAA Communications Stations at Delta, Milford, Fairfield, and Enterprise, Utah; and the Air Traffic Control Center at Burbank. None of these stations had received any report from Western #1. Two operators at the CAA Communications Station at Fairfield reported that they had observed an aircraft pass over, southbound, at 1:20 a.m., (approximately 15 minutes after take-off from Salt Lake City.) It is apparent that the plane was Western #1, that it was on schedule and on course over Fairfield, and that the trouble developed about two minutes after the flight was thus observed.

Discovery of the Wreckage.

Ground fogs delayed and hindered aerial searchers during the early morning hours of December 15. Western cancelled all of its scheduled runs to make their aircraft available for search for Western #1.

Casper William Wolfe, flight leader of the Provo, Utah Civil Air Patrol, learned of the missing plane at about 10:00 a.m. that morning. Accompanied by a mechanic, he took off at approximately 11:05 a.m. to search for the missing airliner and proceeded to the center of the radio beam which Western would ordinarily use. Shortly thereafter, while proceeding down Cedar Valley, he discovered the wreckage. He landed nearby at about 11:25 a.m. and with the help of his mechanic removed the only two survivors from the cabin. The mechanic remained at the wreckage with the two injured men while Wolfe flew to Fairfield and summoned medical aid from Lehi, Utah. He waited, at Fairfield in order to give a doctor and nurse directions to drive to the scene of the accident. Wolfe stated that he telephoned the CAA office in Salt Lake City at approximately 12:15 p.m. and then flew back to the scene of the wreckage, where he assisted in the rescue work.