Girish Mahajan

1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident

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Summary  Pilot error
Injuries (non-fatal)  28 (on ground)
Aircraft type  Canadair Sabre Mk 5
Fatalities  22 (on ground)
Passengers  0
Survivors  1
Date  24 September 1972
Crew count  1
1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident
Site  Sacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California, USA
Flight origin  Sacramento Executive Airport
Similar  1972 Puerto Rico DC, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 708, Delta Air Lines Flight 9570, Mohawk Airlines Flight 405, Prinair Flight 191

On September 24, 1972, a privately owned Canadair Sabre Mk. 5 jet piloted by Richard Bingham failed to take off while leaving the "Golden West Sport Aviation Air Show" at Sacramento, California's Executive Airport, crashing into a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. Twenty-two people died and twenty-eight were injured. The accident remains the third-deadliest aircraft accident in the United States involving victims on the ground, after the USAF KC-135 Wichita crash in 1965, and the Green Ramp disaster in 1994, which killed 23 and 24 people on the ground, respectively.

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Accident

The jet failed to gain sufficient altitude upon takeoff, with eyewitnesses suggesting the nose was over-rotated. The F-86 Sabre has a dangerous and often fatal handling characteristic upon takeoff if the nose is raised prematurely from the runway. This handling characteristic of the F-86 was acknowledged from the early 1950s.

The aircraft flew through a chain link fence at the end of the runway, across Freeport Boulevard, crushing a parked car and crashed at 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) into a local Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour at approximately 4:25 pm. The parlour was occupied in part by the Sacramento 49ers "Little League" football team.

Twenty-two people died, including twelve children. An eight-year-old survivor of the accident lost nine family members including both parents, two brothers, a sister, two grandparents and two cousins. A family of four also died in the accident. Two people were killed in the parked car. Immediately after the crash an elderly couple trying to cross the street to the crash site were struck by a vehicle, killing the wife. The pilot suffered a broken leg and broken arm. The jet was owned by William Penn Patrick a successful businessman. Patrick himself, and his passenger, died when his P-51 Mustang crashed on the morning of June 9, 1973.

Aftermath

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the accident was a result of pilot error due to lack of experience on the jet. Bingham had logged less than four hours flying time in the Sabre. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) modified the rules governing the flight of ex-military jets over densely populated areas, and mandated clearance for such flights. Pilot requirements were also tightened: they would require a checkout by the manufacturer or military, and take-offs and landings would have to be observed by an FAA inspector to confirm proficiency.

The Firefighters Burn Institute was instituted a year after the crash, funded from donations given to local firefighters.

Memorial

In 2002, a memorial was built at the site of the accident and dedicated in March 2003. It consists of: a rose garden with two benches, a fountain, a concrete marker and two metal plaques with the names of those who died.

In 2012, a service to commemorate the 40th anniversary was held to remember the victims of the accident.

References

1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident Wikipedia


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