Braniff Airways - Flight 250
BAC 1-11, N1553
Falls City, Nebraska
August 6, 1966
50th Anniversary Photos
The crash of Braniff Airways Flight No. 250 on August 6, 1966, is the worst commercial aircraft accident in the State of Nebraska. Around 11:12 p.m., this flight, with 38 passengers and a flight crew of 4, crashed approximately 8 miles northeast of Falls City. There were no survivors. Most of the male passengers were military servicemen due to the Viet Nam War with several returning home after completing their tour of duty. Flight Officer James A. Hilliker, one of the two pilots, was a veteran of WWII. Two sets of teenage sisters were aboard - Susan and Nancy Chamblin, ages 15 and 18, and Mary Kay and Susan Hamm, ages 16 and 17. The youngest passenger was Mitchel L. Kuhr, age 5, traveling with his mother Ruth Kuhr after a visit to the Kansas City Zoo. Flight 250 was a regularly scheduled flight from New Orleans to Minneapolis with stops at Shreveport, Fort Smith, Tulsa, Kansas City, and Omaha. The flight was without incident to Kansas City. The aircraft involved was a British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) 1-11 (One-Eleven) twin rear engine with tail number N 1553. The crash near Falls City was the first major event for an aircraft of this type.
At the time of departure from Kansas City, a line of thunderstorms oriented in a southwest to northeast direction was in the vicinity of southeast Nebraska that extended into Missouri and Iowa. The forecast indicated the storm to be broken. Prior to leaving Kansas City, the crew of Flight 250 was supplied with a copy of the latest severe weather bulletin. Witnesses in the area of the crash indicated that they saw the aircraft approach from the southeast with everything appearing to be normal. Some witnesses stated the aircraft entered a low cloud which extended ahead of the main thunderstorm. Others from a different perspective stated that the aircraft instead went above this cloud. The next occurrence observed was a fireball in the sky descending toward the ground. Witnesses closest to the impact testified that in the light of the fireball they could see the aircraft, tail low, right wing low, slowly rotating about its vertical axis with the left wing tip following the tail as it fell.
Investigators found no indication of hail damage, lightning strike, or static discharge. Additionally, there was no evidence of an in-flight fire on any of the components recovered outside the main wreckage area. Extensive investigation was conducted specifically looking at the weather as a factor and also possible structural failure of the aircraft. The committee found that the aircraft had been properly maintained by Braniff and the flight was properly dispatched. The flight crew was properly qualified and trained for the flight. Two other air carrier flights had negotiated the same storm a short time earlier without undue discomfort. Due to wreckage being found up to one mile away, it was evident that the aircraft began coming apart in flight.
Evidence from the wreckage showed that the powered flight control system could not have been operating normally. If the flight control system had been functioning normally, then the rudder could not have been at full travel at fin failure or for that matter, at any time the speed the aircraft was flying. Evidence further indicated that the rudder went to full travel at approximately its maximum rate at which time the fin failure commenced. It was not established that the weather was a significant factor in the accident, however, it was a contributing factor. In executing what was believed to be an evasive turn to the left to avoid possible entry into a turbulent area or thunderstorm, the structure was stressed beyond its ultimate strength. This was caused by the pilot applying a normal pedal force to the rudder during the absence of "feel force" from the feel simulators. Wind shear was also likely a main contributor to the pilot taking evasive action.
PROBABLE CAUSE: The committee found that the probable cause if this accident was the unwanted application of rudder to the extent that the resultant loads exceeded ultimate on the vertical fin and right side of the tailplane. The aircraft with the vertical fin and tailplane missing then became unstable in pitch and the right wing failed under negative loading. Information on the flight data recorder indicated a rush of air sound in the aircraft approximately 28 seconds before impact. The fire was attributed to the failure of the wing which contained the fuel.
Braniff Airways BAC 1-11. The same type of aircraft involved in the crash.
The location of the crash 3.5 miles east and 8 miles north of Falls City, Nebraska - Google Earth image. 9/2/2013.
The crash location as indicated by the blue star. - Nebraska Department of Roads map.
United Press International photo.
(Caption incorrectly lists 41 deaths instead of 42).
Associated Press photo.
Associated Press photo.
Looking south-southeast. Jerry Penry photo. 11-06-2015.
Looking southeast. Jerry Penry photo. 11-06-2015.
Sign placed in 2006 for the 40th Anniversary. Jerry Penry photo. 11-06-2015.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
Cover of the accident report. - Jerry Penry collection.
Page 1 of the accident report.
This story from the Associated Press appeared in many newspapers across the nation on August 8, 1966.
Chicago Tribune. October 29, 1968.
List of names according to the Associated Press on 8/8/1966.
(This list, and others that appeared after the crash, have many errors).
The list below is more accurate than the newspaper list, but probably still has a few errors which are trying to be worked out.
Ages follow the city. Please contact me if you can correct an error.
Donald G. Pauly (pilot) - Minneapolis, MN - 47
James A. Hilliker (pilot) - Bloomington, MN - 39
Sharon E. Hendricks (stewardess) - Sawyer, ND - 21
Ginger E. Brisbane (stewardess) - Minneapolis, MN - 21
Pvt. Larry J. Bosted - Omaha, NE - 19
Andrew D. Broadfoot - Omaha, NE - 54
Nancy A. Chamblin - Fort Smith, AR - 18
Susan C. Chamblin - Fort Smith, AR - 15
Pvt. Danny Ray Cox - Omaha, NE - 18
Pvt. Ronald L. Deines - Bayard, NE - 19
Jeanae C. Duerksen - Bridgewater, SD - 22
Ava Dyer - Washington D.C. - 46
Donald L. Eschbach - Omaha, NE - 44
Kenneth Eskelinen - Omaha, NE - 25
M/Sgt. Donald Ferraro - Bellevue, NE - 34
Leslie David Foster - Omaha, NE - 41
Patricia L. Gilbertson - Little Rock, AR - 21
Lyman M. Graeber - Spring Park, MN - 61
Lottie Gummers - Omaha, NE - 46
Mary Kay Hamm - Houston, TX - 16
Susan R. Hamm - Houston, TX - 17
Pvt. Charles E. Howard, Jr. - Omaha, NE - 21
Pvt. Russell E. Hudson - Jackson, MS - 19
Patricia Jacobson - Fargo, ND - 21
Pvt. William O. Johnson - Glen Fora, WI - 23
Cheryl Lyn Jordan - Minneapolis, MN - 21
Pvt. Bohdan Kowtaliw - Chicago, IL - 18
Ruth Kuhr - Omaha, NE - 32
Mitchel L. Kuhr - Omaha, NE - 5
Pvt. Eugene P. McConnell - Council Bluffs, IA - 18
Adolf Mayer - Omaha, NE - 64
Mrs. Morgan Mills - Gonzales, TX - 51
Pvt. William Murphy - Sauk Village, IL - 19
John H. Paul - Overland Park, KS - 44
Sgt. Garrett G. Redington - Mason City, IA - 32
Grace B. Roettger - Decatur, TX - 56
Donald R. Smith - Bellevue, NE - 39
Virginia Tejada - Guatemala City, Guatemala
Charla J. Ward - Omaha, NE - 16
A2C Robert D. Welter - Des Moines, IA - 19
Frank A. Wilson - Fremont, NE - 40
Donald K. Wright - Omaha, NE
Braniff promotional photo - 1966.
FIND A GRAVE
The above link shows the known grave sites of those who died.
FLIGHT 250 ACCIDENT REPORT
LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR