1952 Moses Lake C-124 crash

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1952 Moses Lake C-124 crash
A large four engined aircraft sitting at an airfield
A C-124A similar to the accident aircraft
Date December 20, 1952 (1952-12-20)
Summary Loss of control due to inadvertent gust lock engagement
Site Near Moses Lake, Grant County, Washington, United States
47°12′24.41″N 119°19′25.47″W / 47.2067806°N 119.3237417°W / 47.2067806; -119.3237417Coordinates: 47°12′24.41″N 119°19′25.47″W / 47.2067806°N 119.3237417°W / 47.2067806; -119.3237417
Aircraft type Douglas C-124A-DL Globemaster II
Operator United States Air Force
Registration 50-0100
Flight origin Larson Air Force Base, Moses Lake, Washington
Destination Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas
Passengers 105
Crew 10
Fatalities 87
Survivors 28

The 1952 Moses Lake C-124 crash was an accident in which a United States Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II military transport aircraft crashed near Moses Lake, Washington on December 20, 1952. Of the 115 people on board, 87 died and 28 survived.


The flight was part of "Operation: Sleigh Ride", a USAF airlift program to bring U.S. servicemen fighting in the Korean War home for Christmas. At around 18:30 PST, the C-124 lifted off from Larson Air Force Base near Moses Lake, Washington en route to Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. Just seconds after taking off, the left wing struck the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, broke up, and exploded, killing 82 of the 105 passengers and 5 of the 10 crew members. Investigation into the accident revealed that the aircraft's elevator and rudder gust locks had not been disengaged prior to departure.[1][2]

At the time it occurred, the Moses Lake crash was the deadliest accident in U.S. territory until a United Airlines DC-7 and a TWA L-1049 Super Constellation collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956, killing 128. The crash also remains the deadliest aviation accident to occur in Washington state.

See also

  • Tachikawa air disaster, the next and worst air accident involving a C-124, which happened just six months after the Moses Lake crash.
  • Arrow Air Flight 1285, another aircraft bringing U.S. servicemen home for Christmas which crashed in 1985.


  1. ^ "Aviation Safety Network".
  2. ^ "Washington State C-124 Crash Remembered".
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