20 December 1952
United States Air Force
| Loss of control due to inadvertent gust lock engagement|
Near Moses Lake, Grant County, Washington, United States
Douglas C-124A-DL Globemaster II
1952 Mount Gannett, National Airlines Flight 101, 1952 Air France SNCASE, American Airlines Flight 6780, Tachikawa air disaster
The 1952 Moses Lake C-124 crash was an accident in which a United States Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II military transport aircraft crashed near Moses Lake, Washington on December 20, 1952. Of the 115 people on board, 87 died and 28 survived. At the time, it was the deadliest accident in aviation history and the deadliest on U.S. soil. It remains the deadliest aviation accident in Washington state.
1952 Moses Lake C-124 crash Wikipedia
The flight was part of "Operation: Sleigh Ride", a USAF airlift program to bring U.S. servicemen fighting in the Korean War home for Christmas. At around 18:30 PST, the C-124 lifted off from Larson Air Force Base near Moses Lake, Washington en route to Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. Just seconds after taking off, the left wing struck the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, broke up, and exploded, killing 82 of the 105 passengers and 5 of the 10 crew members. Investigation into the accident revealed that the aircraft's elevator and rudder gust locks had not been disengaged prior to departure.
At the time it occurred, the Moses Lake crash was the deadliest-ever aviation accident. It would hold this distinction for half a year until another C-124 crashed after takeoff in Tachikawa, Japan, killing 129. It was also the deadliest accident in U.S. territory until a United Airlines DC-7 and a TWA L-1049 Super Constellation collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956, killing 128.