Page:Aviation Accident Report, Western Air Lines Flight 1.pdf/7

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"At that time I was knocked unconscious, and I didn't have any recollection of what went on until I came to in what seemed a matter of a minute, or so."

There were no known witnesses to the accident from the ground. John Raymond Wilcher, mill foreman, whose home is located in Cedar Valley, about 8 miles north of the scene of the wreckage, testified that he had gotten out of bed on the night of the accident to ascertain whether his son had come home, and he had reason to observe the time, which was 1:05 a.m. He stated that he returned to bed and stayed awake for a time he estimated to have been 10 or 15 minutes when he heard an airplane. From his testimony, it is quite apparent that he heard Western #l when it was in trouble as he stated the engines were being operated irregularly, with full power off and on, and then off; then he heard them no more. He stated that he had remarked to his wife at the time that he believed there was something wrong with the plane. The two CAA communication operators at Fairfield observed the aircraft and logged the time at 1:20 a.m. two minutes prior to the accident.

Description of the Wreckage

Examination of the wreckage indicated that the airplane struck the ground in a practically level attitude at a relatively high rate of vertical descent and turning slightly to the left.

The right outer wing panel was found partially separated from the center section and rotated forward with respect to the main portion of the wreckage. The right wing tip was severed almost entirely from the remainder of the outer panel some six inches outboard of the connecting rivet line; and was held only by twisted de-icer boot wires. The material at the fracture was badly mutilated and therefore it was not possible to establish with any degree of certainty the circumstances under which failure had occurred. Numerous marks on both the top and bottom surfaces indicated repeated contact of the tip with the ground. The presence of these marks on the top surface and the twisted de-icer boot wires revealed that the detached tip was rolled along the ground edge over edge for about two and one-half turns. The outer portion of the wing showed signs of having made contact with the ground along practically the entire chord. The aileron was torn from its attachments at the two outboard hinges.

The left wing was found separated locally at various-points in the vicinity of the engine nacelle. There was no major failure along the attachment between the outer panel and the center section. The wing tip was bent upward slightly past the vertical along a line about a foot outboard of the rivet line joining the tip to the outer wing panel, the attachment itself remaining substantially intact. The condition of the bent tip was such with little effort it could be folded completely over the top surface of the wing. There were no marks on the bottom surface of the bent tip to indicate any contact with the ground. The skin on the lower surface inboard of the break had definite indications of ground contact. The navigation light was intact, minus the lens. The bottom surface of the wing tip from the break outboard showed a considerable number of oil spots. There were no signs of similar oil spots on the top surface of the wing for a distance of approximately 5 feet inboard of the failure, but the remaining inboard top surface of the wing showed numberous spots.