• 1968 •
Date / Time: Wednesday, May 22, 1968 / 5:50 p.m.
Operator / Flight No.: Los Angeles Airways / Flight 841
Location: Paramount, Calif.
Details and Probable Cause: Los Angeles Airways, a company providing regular passenger service between Los Angeles International Airport and the Disneyland-Anaheim heliport located adjacent to the Disneyland theme park, was operating a Sikorsky S-61L helicopter (N303Y) that departed Anaheim on a flight to LAX.
It was westbound over the suburb of Paramount at an altitude of 2,000 feet when controllers received a distress message from the craft: “L.A., we’re crashing, help us!” The helicopter suddenly descended with an erratic action of the main rotor blades, crashed onto a Paramount dairy farm and burst into flames.
All 23 passengers and crew members aboard died in the crash. Among those killed was a group of nine vacationers from Ohio; a Hunt-Wesson Foods executive; the mayor of the northern California town of Red Bluff; and a UC Berkeley professor.
The helicopter’s severed tail rotor was discovered in a used truck and tractor yard a block east of the crash site. A mechanical failure in the helicopter’s main rotor hub caused one of the rotor blades to detach and it sliced into the fuselage. The other four rotor blades subsequently went out of control and splintered. The craft came apart and crashed to earth.
Fatalities: 23 -- 20 passengers and 3 crew members.
Date / Time: Wednesday, August 14, 1968 / 10:36 a.m.
Operator / Flight No.: Los Angeles Airways / Flight 417
Location: Compton, Calif.
Details and Probable Cause: Los Angeles Airways suffered its second in-flight disaster in less than three months on the morning of August 14, 1968.
The L.A.A. Sikorsky S-61L helicopter (N300Y), flying eastbound from Los Angeles International Airport to the Disneyland-Anaheim heliport located adjacent to the popular theme park, was at an altitude of about 1,500 feet when one of the main rotor head spindles failed and the attached main rotor blade separated completely from the central hub. The resulting imbalance sent the craft spinning out of control and its tail rotor sheared off.
The helicopter crashed to earth in Lueders Park in Compton and burst into flames, killing all 21 passengers and crew members aboard. Among the victims was passenger Christopher L. Belinn, the 13-year-old grandson of Clarence M. Belinn, the founder and president of the L.A.A. helicopter line. The craft’s severed tail rotor was found three blocks west of the crash site.
The crash was the result of a metallurgical fault of the main rotor blade spindle, occurring during the manufacture of the unit.
Fatalities: 21 -- 18 passengers and 3 crew members.