Archives On The Air 54: Impact In The Snowies—United Air Lines Flight 409 Crash Collection

Sep 12, 2018

On October 6, 1955, a United Airlines flight crashed into Medicine Bow Peak. Everyone on board perished.

The Civil Aeronautics Board finished investigating the crash in 1957. They concluded the pilot left the planned flight path and lost visibility in the fog.

Why did he leave the flight path? The Board suggested instrument failure or toxic gases filling the cabin as possibilities. Elaine Hertzfelt, who assisted clean up the wreckage, had another idea.

“The consensus at the time, this was from World War 2 people, was that the people wanted to see the mountain and that the pilot flew low to show them the mountain. They were flatlanders that were flying.” [5:41-5:57 (16 seconds)]

You can come to your own conclusions about the cause using with the United Air Lines Flight 409 Crash Collection at UW’s American Heritage Center.