Crash of a Troubled Bird

After some close calls, a chartered plane goes down in Nevada

The Lockheed Electra, with its four jet engines driving propellers, was a hybrid designed to bridge two aviation ages. But its birth in the late 1950s was a painful one. Two of the early Electras lost wings, one over Texas in 1959, the other over Indiana in 1960. Ninety-seven people died. The 400-m.p.h. propjet plane was found to suffer from a "runaway flutter," in which vibration was transmitted from an engine to a propeller and then to a wing, which would sometimes shake loose. Lockheed spent $25 million to modify the design and strengthen the plane. Gradually, most pilots lost their...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!