Wednesday, April 13, 2011
On March 18, 1939, a prototype of the Boeing Stratoliner crashes on Mount Rainier on a test flight, killing the Boeing Company's Chief Engineer and Chief Aerodynamicist and eight others.
According to the findings of the accident investigation, the aircraft was at 10,000 feet when the maneuver was attempted. The airplane stalled and went into a spin. This failure was traced to ailerons and a tail fin too small for this design (plans to modify the original bomber flight surfaces had already been finalized, but had not been incorporated into the prototype). Boeing test pilot Julius Barr and von Baumhauer attempted to recover from the spin, but their struggle against the control column resulted in the wings and tail section separating from the fuselage. Also killed in the crash was Boeing Chief Engineer Earl Ferguson, a representative from TWA, and five other Boeing employees.