Lovettsville, VA Air Disaster, Aug 1940
The Lovettsville air disaster occurred on August 31, 1940 near Lovettsville, Virginia. Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 was a new Douglas DC-3A that was flying through an intense thunderstorm at 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Numerous witnesses reported seeing a large flash of lightning shortly before it nosed over and plunged to earth in an alfalfa field. With limited accident investigation tools at the time, it was at first believed that the most likely cause was the plane flying into windshear, but the Civil Aeronautics Board report concluded that the probable cause was a lightning strike. U.S. Senator Ernest Lundeen from Minnesota was one of those killed.
"Trip 19", as it was designated, was under the command of Captain Lowell V. Scroggins with First Officer J. Paul Moore. The pilot and copilot had over eleven thousand and six thousand hours experience respectively, although only a few hundred were on DC-3s. In the jump seat rode a new administrative employee of the airline, hired on August 26.
The DC-3A was newly delivered from the Douglas Aircraft on May 25, 1940 equipped with twin Curtiss-Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9 engines (also designated as G-102-A).
The CAB investigation of the accident was the first major investigation to be conducted under the Bureau of Air Commerce act of 1938.
Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Report (opens in .pdf format)
1940 Lovettsville Air Disaster Archive
Photo above from the Lovettsville Air Disaster Archive