Air Collision Over New York City Part 2

About the collision of two airplanes in 1960 over Staten Island, New York City, history of the disaster and an account of what happened hour by hour.


10:12 A.M.--ARTCC to Flight 826: Captain instructed to descend to and maintain altitude of 25,000' and advised that radar service not available. Sawyer acknowledged.

10:14 A.M.--New York to Flight 826: Sawyer advised that his flight clearance limit was from Preston, N.J., to Robbinsville at 25,000'.

10:21 A.M.--Flight 826 to United's Aeronautical Radio, Inc.: Sawyer advised ARINC that his standby navigation receiver was inoperative. ARINC acknowledged but did not pass this information along to ARTCC. New York Control Center came on to instruct Sawyer to descend to 13,000'.

10:23 A.M.--Flight 826 to NYCC: "If we're going to have a delay, we would rather hold upstairs than down. We're going to need 3/4 of a mile runway visibility. Do you have the weather handy?" Sawyer was advised that Kennedy Airport, Idlewild International, had 1,500' of overcast with rain, snow, and less than the desirable runway visibility. Sawyer answered: "We're starting down."

10:23 A.M.--La Guardia Airport to Flight 266: Wollam advised of measured 500' overcast, one mile visibility, snow with wind NE at 15 knots. He was told to use runway 4 and advised that localizer beam was inoperative.

10:24 A.M.--La Guardia to Flight 266: Wollam instructed to descend from 11,000' to 9,000' and report.

10:25 A.M.--NYCC to Flight 826: Sawyer instructed to alter his course and descend to 11,000'.

10:27 A.M.--NYCC to Flight 266: Wollam advised that radar control terminated; instructed to contact La Guardia Approach Control. LGAC instructed Wollam to maintain 9,000'.

10:28 A.M.--LGAC to Flight 266: Cleared for descent to 8,000'.

10:30 A.M.--Flight 266 to LGAC: Wollam confirmed altitude change and was instructed to maintain present heading and reduce speed for final approach course.

10:32 A.M.--Flight 266 to LGAC: Wollam reported his altitude at 6,000' and was instructed to go down to 5,000' and make a right turn to new heading of 150 deg.

10:33 A.M.--NYCC to Flight 826: Sawyer instructed to contact Kennedy Airport Approach Control. Sawyer acknowledged. His altimeter read 5,500'.

10:33:14--LGAC to Flight 266: Wollam instructed to descend to 1,500' and turn left to new heading of 130 deg. Advised that there appeared to be jet traffic at 3:00 o'clock one mile NE bound.

10:33:28--Flight 826 to KAAC: "We're approaching Preston at 5,000'." KAAC acknowledged, then gave the weather. Sawyer didn't acknowledge! Flights 266 and 826 had collided.

Flight 826 came to rest in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, blasting a crater at Sterling Place and Seventh Ave. There were no survivors. Flight 266 fell on Miller Field, Staten Island. Five victims were extracted from the wreckage alive, only to die en route to a hospital.

Aftermath: The 2 prelanding holding patterns of Flight 266 and 826 were 10 mi. apart, but visibility was zero. Neither flight was exactly where its captain thought it to be. From "wheels up" to collision normal events turned out to be unusual, almost as though the collision over New York was predestined.

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