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27 September 1973 - Texas International 655

Texas International Airlines Flight 655, registration N94230, was a Convair 600 en route from Memphis, Tennessee, to Dallas, Texas via Pine Bluff, Arkansas; El Dorado, and Texarkana that crashed into Black Fork Mountain, Arkansas on the night of September 27, 1973. The 8 passengers and 3 crewmembers were killed.

While the plane was on the ground in El Dorado the crew consulted with Flight Service Station staff and another set of pilots about a line of thunderstorms 35 nm to the west. After confirming there was a 15 nm wide break in the storm the crew departed at night under visual flight rules (VFR). After departing El Dorado no contact was made with any controllers en route. When the plane was overdue at Texarkana search and rescue was notified. Despite an extensive search along the proposed route of flight no wreckage was found. A controller at the Fort Worth air traffic control center advised the searchers that he had observed an unidentified VFR target departing El Dorado to the northwest before the plane went missing. With this information the wreckage was found after 3 days of searching. There were no survivors.

The cockpit voice recorder later revealed the First Officer was flying the plane while the Captain advised him of headings and altitudes to take to navigate around the storm. The Captain deviated the plane 100 nm to the north in an attempt to go around it. The First Officer expressed concern that he did not know their position and what the terrain clearance was for the area. After the Captain ordered him to descend to 2,000 feet he consulted an en route instrument chart. He alerted the captain they were too low saying, "Minimum en route altitude here is forty-four hun.." At that point the recorder cut off as the plane impacted Black Fork Mountain.
The wreckage was found three days later.

The NTSB investigation concluded that the crew did not discuss the details of their intended route with Flight Service or activate the instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan forwarded from the airline dispatch to Flight Service. If they had been operating under instrument flight rules they would have been radar tracked or required to make position reports to air traffic control en route. Under visual flight rules they would only need to maintain contact with a controller while in controlled airspace. In this area of rural Arkansas there was no controlled airspace below 18,000 feet. Further according to Federal Aviation Regulations the airline dispatcher should have been notified the flight was proceeding VFR. The Captain also could have contacted controllers in Fort Worth to open their flight plan or receive radar vectoring in the area. From the conversation of the crew on the recorder the board concluded the flight encountered instrument weather conditions during the flight and was likely in instrument weather conditions when it crashed. The board concluded that the cause of the accident was the Captain's decision to continue flying into instrument weather at night. Also not taking advantage of the nearby navigational aids to get a fix on their position. Lastly his decision to descend despite the First Officer's concerns about position and terrain.

Download the full NTSB report


Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)


LEGEND

CAM Cockpit area microphone

RDO Transmissions from unknown source

-1 Voice identified as Captain

-2 Voice identified as First Officer

-? Voice unidentified

* Unintelligible

# Wonpertinent word

% Break in continuity

( ) Questionable text

(( )) Editorial insertion

. . . Pause


Note: All times expressed in elapsed time


TIME & SOURCE CONTENT

00:00.0
CAM-2 Yeah?

CAM-1 That might not be a hole there

CAM-2 We know shortly

CAM-2 It sorta looks like twenty-four miles to the end, I
Don't mind, do you?

CAM-1 I don't care, just as long as we don't go through it

CAM-2 Looks a little strange through there, looks like
something attenuating through there

CAM-2 It's shadow

CAM-1 Yeah, looks like a shadow

CAM-1 Is that better?

CAM-2 Naw, I don't care

CAM-X Suit yourself

CAM-2 Well, I don't know, looks a little light in here, this
Thing hits your eyeballs pretty hard

CAM-2 That's right

CAM-1 That's what I'm holding this thing for

CAM-2 That's all right, it doesn't hurt if she's bright

CAM-1 As long as you've got it

CAM-2 See something?

CAM-1 I think it's snow

CAM-2 I still think that's 3 shadow

CAM-2 I do, too

CAM-2 Wanna go around?

CAM-1 Yeah, why not

CAM-2 All right

CAM-1 I'd slow it up a little bit too

CAM-1 Good change

CAM-2 Whata we got, decreasing (ground pickup)

CAM-1 I did't hear you

CAM-2 The visibility is dropping

CAM-1 Yeah

CAM-2 Well

CAM-2 Rain

CAM-1 Raining (all over the place)

07:29.5
Note Two one Alpha, roger ((radio transmission heard on
RDO-1 and 2, source unknown))

08:40.0
CAM-1 You got something down there

CAM-2 The other one's a rain data, look at it

CAM-1 Yeah, it's probably getting ground clutter down there

CAM-1 That's ground

CAM-2 What's all this, lights, in those fields? What the # are
They, chicken farms?

CAM-1 Yeah

CAM-2 God Almighty

CAM-2 They're planning on growing a few eggs, ain't they

CAM-1 Yep, that's what they are

CAM-? Whistle

CAM Sound of ambient noise increases

CAM-2 What the # have I got there, ya know?

10:18.5 I thought the end of that line was way back down
over there, now

12:29.5
CAM-2 #, keeps growing on us

CAM-1 No, not really

14:13.5
CAM-2 It'sa real cute lil'old curlycue, ain't it?

CAM-1 Yeah, ha, ha

CAM-1 There's not much to that, but we gatta stay away from
It cause we'll be vee, IFR

CAM-2 Si

CAM-2 #, I can't get this # stupid radar * *

CAM-2 You got any idea where we're at?

15:06.0
CAM-1 Yeah, two sixteen'11 take us right to the VOR

CAM-2 Two, ah

CAM-1 Two oh nine, I got

CAM-2 Fifteen

CAM-1 I'm not concerned with that, I could care less

CAM-1 I guess you're right. That, that is just extending on
and on and on as we go along 'cause it hasn't moved in
about three or four miles in the last thirty minutes,
it seems like

CAM-1 I guess it's building up that way (now)

CAM Sound of whistling

CAM-1 What's Hot Springs?

16:09.5
Note Hello there Dallas, this is nine, uh ((radio transmission
Heard on RW-1 and RDO-2, source unknown))

CAM-2 Sir?

CAM-1 What Hot Springs VOR? Is it ten zero? Is that right?

CAM-2 Yeah, yeah, uh, that's right

CAM-2 We don't want to get too far op the # # # # it gets hilly

CAM-1 Yeah, . . . stars are shining

CAM-1 Why don't you try two thousand?

17:03.5
CAM-1 if we get up here anywhere near Hot Springs, we get in
the # mountains

CAM-2 Uh, you reckon there's a ridge line along here somewhere?

CAM-? * *

CAM-2 Go down five hundred feet, you can see all kindsa lights

CAM-(2) Let's go ahead and try for twenty-five hundred

17:49.5
CAM-1 All right

CAM-1 Fred, you can quit worrying about the mountains 'cause
that'll clear everything over there

CAM-2 That's why I wanted to go to twenty-five hundred feet

CAM-2 That's the Hot Springs highway right here, I think

CAM-1 You 'bout right

CAM-2 Texarkan . . . . naw, it aint't either

CAM-2 #, Texarkana's back here

CAM-1 Texarkana's back over here, somewhere

CAM-2 Yeah

CAM-2 This ain't no Hot Spring highway

18:34.5
CAM-1 Well thirty degrees . . . thirty degrees takes you right
to Texarkana doesn't it? Hot Springs . . . here we are
sitting'on fifty

CAM-2 Yeah

CAM-2 How we doin'on that # # # # ? Look how we're gainin
on the ground

CAM-1 I don't know, Fred, still we keep getting'another one
popping' up every time . . . every time
19:34.5
CAM-2 If we keep this up indefinitely, well be in Tulsa

CAM-1 I haven't been in Tula in years

CAM-2 ((Laugh)) ha, ha, ha

CAM-2 The last time I was with Gen Duke, he said go whichever
way you want to. I was going out of Abilene going to
Dallas, took up a heading zero one zero and flew for about
Forty-five minutes, and he said, Fred, you can't keep going
on this, on this heading. I said why. He said, #, you
gonna be in Oklahoma pretty soon. I said don't care
if I'm in Oklahoma. He said, fair enough

20:14.5
CAM-2 How'd I get all this # speed?

CAM-1 You're all right

CAM-2 (Pile it on) we'll keep this speed here?

CAM-1 A little while

CAM-2 There ain't no lights on the ground over there

CAM-1 Yeah, I see ém behind us

CAM-1 See stars above us

20:40.5
CAM-2 I got some lights on the ground

CAM-1 'here's just not many out here

CAM-2 Maybe . . . could be something 'else, coach

CAM-1 Aha, we're getting' rid of the clouds

CAM-1 We'ís in the clouds, Fred

CAM-2 Are we?

CAM-1 Yeah

CAM-1 No, we're not

21:16.5
CAM-1 I can see above us

CAM-2 We got (ground) up ahead?

CAM-1 I can see the ground here

CAM-2 Yeah, I can see the ground down here, too

CAM-1 Yeah * * *

CAM-1 North is a fair heading, north

CAM-2 Now, what have we got here?

CAM-1 Naw, you're all right, I can see some lights over here

CAM-2 I'll tell ya what, coach . . .

22:02.5
CAM-2 That's probably Hot Spring

CAM-1 Yep, could be

CAM-1 Yeah, that might be either it or Arkadelphia

CAM-2 Well I'm getting out of the clouds here Mac, but I'm
getting right straight into it

CAM-1 Oh, looks like you're all right

CAM-2 Do you see any stars above us?

CAM-2 We're going in and outta some scud

CAM-1 Yeah, we've got a little bit here

CAM-2 I sure wish I know where the # we were

22:49.0
CAM-1 Well, I tell you what, we're, ah, on the two fifty . . .
Two sixty radial from, ah, Hot Springs

CAM Heavy static

CAM-2 Figure I can kick her on up here, maybe I can outrun it

CAM-1 I don't, I don't think you can get up

CAM-2 Well, I, I got the # thing pointed almost straight up to
see what we got out here
23:27.5
CAM-2 Paintin'ridges and everything else boss and I'm not familiar
with the terrain

CAM-2 We're staying in the clouds

CAM-1 Yeah, I'd stay down. You're right in the (some) right
in the base of the clouds

CAM-1 I tell you what, we're gonna be able to turn here in a minute

CAM-2 You wanna go through there?

CAM-1 Yeah

24:04.5
CAM-2 All right

CAM-2 Good, looking good, Mac. Looking good

CAM-1 That's all right, wait a minute

CAM-2 Well, I can't even get, ah, Texarkana any more

CAM-1 I'll tell you what, Fred

CAM-2 'Kay, boss

CAM-1 Well, ah, we'll just try that, we'll try it. We're gonna
be in the rain pretty soon. It's only about two miles wide

CAM-2 You tell me where you want me to go

CAM-1 Okay, give me a heading of, ah, three forty

CAM-2 Three forty?

25:25.5
CAM-1 Three forty

CAM-1 Steady on

CAM-1 We got ten miles to go 'n' we're gonna turn . . .

CAM-1 To the left about, ah, 'bout fifty degrees

CAM-2 Won't me to turn, did ya say fifty?

CAM-1 Yeah, fifty left

CAM-1 On about, uh, two ninety

CAM-2 Two ninety

25:59.5
CAM-1 Ya got six miles to turn

CAM-1 Three miles south of turn

CAM-2 We're in it

CAM-1 Huh?

CAM-2 We're in solid, now

CAM-1 Are we?

CAM-2 Hold it

27:01.0
CAM-1 Start your turn . . . standard rate

CAM-1 Level out and let me see it . . . when you hit two ninety

CAM-2 Aw, okay

27:20.0
CAM-2 There's your two ninety

CAM-1 Steady on

CAM-1 Should hit in about a half a mile. Should be out of it
in 'bout two miles

CAM-1 You're in it

CAM-1 Are you through it?

28:05.0
CAM-1 Turn thirty left

CAM-2 I can see the ground, now

28:20.5
CAM-2 There's thirty left

CAM-2 Naw, that's thirty-five #

CAM-1 Keep on trucking, just keep on a-trucking

ÇAM-2 Well, we must be somewhere in Oklahoma

CAM-1 Doin'all the good in the world

CAM-2 Do you lave any idea of what the frequency of the Paris
VOR is?

CAM Nope, don't realy give a #

29:15.0
CAM-1 Put, uh, about two sixty-five, heading two sixty-five

29:19.0
CAM-2 Heading, two sixty-five

CAM-2 I would say we # up

CAM-1 Think so?

CAM-? Laughter

CAM-1 Didn't we?

30:23.0
CAM-1 Fred, descend to two thousand

30:25.0
CAM-1 Two thousand, coming down

30:42.0
CAM-2 Here we are, we're not out of it

CAM-1 Let's truck on

31:01.5
CAM-1 'bout five to the right

CAM-1 Shift over a little bit if you can

CAM-1 Sure can

CAM-1 That's all right

CAM-2 Right #

CAM-1 That all right, you're doing' all the good in the world

CAM-1 I thought we'd get, I thought it was moving that way on me
Only, we just kinda turned a little bit while you was look-
ing the map


CAM-2 Look

CAM-1 First time I've ever made a mistake in my life

CAM-2 I'll be #. Man, I wish I know where we were so we'd have
Some idea of the general # terrain around this # place

CAM-1 I know what it is

CAM-2 what ?

CAM-1 That the highest point out there is about twelve hundred feet

CAM-2 (That right) ?

CAM-1 The whole general area, and then we're not even where that
Is, I don't believe

CAM-2 I'll tell you what, as long as we travel northwest instead
of west, and I still can't get Paris

CAM-? Whistling

CAM-1 Go ahead and look at it

CAM-? Whistling

CAM-? #

CAM-? Whistling

33:18.5
CAM-1 Two hundred and fifty, we're about to pass over Page VOR

CAM-2 You know where that is?

CAM-1 Yeah

CAM-2 All right

33:34.0
CAM-1 About a hundred and eighty degrees to Texarkana

33:37.5
CAM-2 About a hundred and fifty two

33:40.0
CAM-2 Minimum en route altitude is forty-four hund . . .

33:42.0 Sound of impact

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