Skip to main content

18 November 1979 - Transamerica 18

Flight 3N18 departed Hill AFB for an IFR cargo flight to Nellis AFB. While climbing from FL120 to FL130 the crew reported loss of electrical power and requested no-gyro vectors to visual flight conditions and immediate descent clearance. During the descent the aircraft attained a high airspeed and high rate of descent and disintegrated in flight.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "A progressive failure in the aircraft's electrical system leading to the disabling or erratic performance of some critical flight instruments and flight instrument lighting while the flight was operating in night instrument meteorological condition. As a result of these conditions, the flight crew could not resolve the instrumentation anomalies to determine proper aircraft attitude reference, and became disoriented and lost control of the aircraft. The crew's efforts to regain control of the aircraft imposed aerodynamic loads which exceeded design limits of the aircraft and caused it to break up in flight."

Capt: Captain
F/O: First Officer
F/E: Flight Engineer
???: Unknown
*: Unintelligible

Capt: Everybody ready?
???: *
Capt: Go ahead and bring them up
==Sound of increasing RPM==
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, winds are one eight zero, one zero cleared for takeoff, I have amendment to your clearance, after departure maintain one thousand *
F/O (To ATC): Log Air eight five nine cleared for takeoff. After departure maintain one thousand
ATC: That's correct
???: ==Sound of checklist items being read==
F/E: Takeoff Check complete
F/O (To ATC): Uh tower, Log Air eight five nine, radio check
ATC: A lot better on that transmitter
F/O (To ATC): Uh can you read this transmitter okay?
ATC: Yeah that one's fine
F/O (To ATC): Okay
F/O: Let's see sixty knots one eleven one twenty four hundred feet, gear in the well. Any abort will be initiated by you... by you
???: *
???: What was that for *?
F/E: Beta lights are out. Standard power.
Capt: Sixty
Capt: V1
Capt: Two
F/O: Positive rate, gear up
F/O: Meto
F/E: Meto
==Sound of GPWS==
ATC: Eight fifty-nine, contact departure control
Capt (To ATC): Eight fifty-nine
Capt: Four hundred feet
F/O: Flaps up
Capt: Flaps up
???: *
Capt (To ATC): Departure Log Air eight five nine is off * field
ATC: Log Air eight five nine Salt Lake Departure, radar contact. Verify altitude leaving, verify climbing to one one thousand
Capt: Climb power
Capt (to ATC): Leaving fifty six for one one thousand
ATC: Yep
ATC: Log Air eight five nine squawk five one zero one and ident
F/O: Radar
F/O: Don't have anything over here at all, we better...
ATC: Log Air three forty-two..
ATC: Log Air eight five nine delete the altitude restriction, climb and maintain flight level two zero zero
Capt (To ATC): five nine is cleared to two zero zero
F/O: That's weather there
???: *
Capt: *
Capt: What scope you on fifty?
F/O: Yeah
Capt: Don't want to get too far over to the left till we get some altitude
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, proceed direct to the salt lake VOR, resume own navigation on course
Capt (To ATC): Eight fifty-nine
Capt: Ah somethings wrong here with our VOR.
Capt: Yours appears to be right, mines gotta be working
Capt: Radar's not working for shit. My scope isn't doing nothing
F/E: *
Capt: That's not bad
Capt: Yeah see, my picture looks like it's one a hundred and fifty all the *
F/O: Yeah, mine does too
???: *
F/O: No, it doesn't either *
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, squawk one one zero zero
Capt (To ATC): Eight fifty-nine, uh, has your scope picked up weather tonight?
???: I think we just go on top of that layer
ATC: Stand by a sec
Capt: We got more of it
F/E: Yeah, we * a star in sight
Capt: The radar is absolutely worthless
ATC: Okay Log air eight nine five, say altitude
Capt (To ATC): We're out of eleven thousand
ATC: Turn left heading one six zero, eight nine five
Capt (To ATC): One six zero
[Momentary power interruption to CVR]
Capt: ...lost everything. Yeah, we lost a bus
F/O: Lost a bus
Capt: Which one?
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, resume own navigation on course, say your altitude
???: Huh
???: Huh
???: *
F/O: I don't have any altimeter, I don't have any heading reference at all. Do you?
Capt: No.
F/O: Have any heading reference?
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, resume own nav
Capt: You got a flashlight
F/O: Yeah, I got a flashlight
F/O: Ah, we're boost out to
Capt: Huh?
F/O: We're boost out aren't we?
Capt: Yeah give us the boost
F/E: You got it
Capt: No, get the boost off
???: * good move
ATC: Log Air five nine Salt Lake
F/E: Okay
Capt: Needle ball airspeed
F/O (To ATC): Roger, eight five nine has lost all electrical power on the aircraft
Capt: Okay, let's start
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, do you want to land at Salt Lake?
F/O (To ATC): Uh, we want to make sure we're on a heading wha- I need deviation from our heading we'll require-
Capt: Request a descent
F/O (To ATC): And a descent
Capt: * cancel
ATC: All right, you appear to be heading due west now, say your altitude
F/O (To ATC): Uh, we're heading uh, we're altitude of eleven twelve thousand. Now descending through twelve
F/E: We've still got "B" (Referring to Electrical Bus B)
ATC: Maintain one * thousand for terrain Log Air eight five nine and continue in a right turn
F/O (To ATC): Okay we ah...
Capt: Give us gyro headings, we have no gyros
F/O (To ATC): Yeah and we'll need gyro headings the whole way
???: One eleven keep an eye on the west
ATC: Roger Log Air eight five nine, do you wish vectors back to Salt Lake
???: You're in a left turn now
F/E: *
F/O: No you're in a right turn
Capt: You help me, help me. Help me fly the airplane
F/O: Okay
Capt: What have we got?
==Sound of wind buffeting from increasing airspeed==
F/O: Three zero zero on the heading
Capt: We need a heading of uh...
ATC: Log Air eight five nine, stop turn
F/O (To ATC): Eight five nine, roger
Capt: Three one zero
ATC: Are you able to maintain your altitude eight five nine
F/O (To ATC): Eight five nine, we are uh, descending, do you want us to maintain altitude?
ATC: You can descend at your discretion, maintain eight thousand for terrain Log Air eight five nine
F/O (To ATC): Okay what we need is some VFR weather, point us towards some VFR weather if at all possible
Capt: Okay, help me, I'm climbing
ATC: I'll take you
Capt: Okay
Capt: Help me, I'm...
ATC: North of Salt Lake and I should be able to get you down to about six thousand to get you parallel * present time maintain eight thousand for terrain Log Air eight five niner
Capt: Needle ball airspeed
F/O: I got you in a right turn
F/O: Descending
F/O: Desc--
==Sound of breakup==
[Momentary power interruption to CVR]

Back to top