1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident

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 Executive Airport in Sacramento, California, United States. The airplane crashed into a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor. Twenty-two people died and 28 were injured including the pilot.[1]

1972 Sacramento Canadair Sabre accident
A North American F-86 Sabre similar to the aircraft that crashed
DateSeptember 24, 1972
SummaryPilot error
SiteSacramento Executive Airport, Sacramento, California, U.S.
38°31′16″N 121°29′57″W / 38.52111°N 121.49917°W / 38.52111; -121.49917
Total fatalities22
Total injuries28
Aircraft typeCanadair Sabre Mk 5
OperatorSpectrum Air
Flight originSacramento Executive Airport
DestinationOakland International Airport
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities21 (direct) 1 (indirect)
Ground injuries27

Accident Edit

The crash occurred on September 24, 1972, at approximately 4:25 pm. The Canadair Sabre 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.[2]

The aircraft over-ran the runway, struck an earthen berm, and ripped through a chain link fence. Two external underwing fuel tanks ruptured and ignited upon impact with the fence, creating a massive fireball. The plane continued across Freeport Boulevard, crashing into a moving car, and struck at 150 miles per hour (240 km/h) a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor.[3] Occupants of the parlor included the Sacramento 49ers junior football team.[4]

Twenty-two people died, including twelve children.[5] An eight-year-old survivor of the accident lost nine family members: 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 car struck on Freeport Boulevard. Immediately after the crash an elderly couple trying to cross the street to the crash site were struck by a vehicle, killing the wife.[6] The crash could have claimed many more lives if the external fuel tanks had not ruptured prior to impact, or if the jet had not been slowed by hitting the moving car and other vehicles parked in front of the restaurant. Bingham, the pilot, suffered a broken leg and a broken arm.[7]

Aircraft Edit

The Canadair Sabre was a single-engine jet fighter built for the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1954. This Sabre was withdrawn from service in 1961 and placed in long-term storage. It was sold as surplus in the United States in 1971 and was bought by Spectrum Air, Inc., of Novato, California, in the same year.[1]

Aftermath Edit

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 fewer 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.[8] 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.[8]

The Firefighters Burn Institute was instituted a year after the crash, funded from donations and special payroll deductions from local firefighters.[7]

There were at least 26 active lawsuits stemming from the crash, seeking awards for relatives of the dead and for those injured. The trial began on October 26, 1975, with defendants including the aircraft owner, pilot, the City of Sacramento, Sacramento County, the State of California, Farrell’s, and the company’s architect. The aircraft owner, William Penn Patrick, died in the crash of another surplus military plane less than a year after the Sacramento tragedy, and his estate was a party in the suit. Settlements in the amount of 5 million dollars were awarded in May 1976.

Memorial Edit

The memorial plaque, dedicated in 2003, to the victims of the accident

In 2002, a memorial was built at the site of the accident (now part of Freeport Square Shopping Center) 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.[7]

In 2012, a service to commemorate the 40th anniversary was held to remember the victims of the accident.[7]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Aircraft Accident Report Spectrum Air, Inc. Sabre Mark 5, N275X" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. March 28, 1973. Retrieved July 25, 2017. - Version at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  2. ^ Hoover, R.A. "Bob" (1997). Forever Flying : Fifty Years of High-Flying Adventures, from Barnstorming in Prop Planes to Dogfighting Germans to Testing Supersonic Jets : an autobiography : with Mark Shaw : foreword by Chuck Yeager. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 184. ISBN 0-671-53761-X.
  3. ^ Bizjak, Tony (April 1, 2002). "After 30 years, a Farrell's healing". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  4. ^ Magagnini, Stephen (December 31, 1999). "Farrell's disaster claimed 22 lives". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Blubaugh, Ronald; Raimundo, Jeff (September 25, 1972). "Old Jet Plane Kills 22 In Crash Into Crossroads Ice Cream Shop". Sacramento Bee. p. A1. Retrieved September 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "The Crash at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor in Sacramento, CA – September 24, 1972". Check Six. 2002. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Pierleoni, Alan (September 24, 2012). "Somber event recalls Farrell's jet-crash disaster". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Harbour, Mike (September 24, 2012). "Farrell's Crash Remembered 40 Years Later". Flight Journal. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.

External links Edit