Air France Flight 178

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Air France Flight 178
Lockheed L749A F-BAZE Algerie ORY 31.05.57 edited-3.jpg
A Lockheed L749A similar to the accident aircraft
Accident summary
Date 1 September 1953
Summary Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
Site Mont Le Cimet near Barcelonnette, France
44°17′27.09″N 6°41′56.04″E / 44.2908583°N 6.6989000°E / 44.2908583; 6.6989000Coordinates: 44°17′27.09″N 6°41′56.04″E / 44.2908583°N 6.6989000°E / 44.2908583; 6.6989000
Passengers 33
Crew 9
Fatalities 42
Injuries (non-fatal) 0
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Lockheed L-749A Constellation
Operator Air France
Registration F-BAZZ
Flight origin Orly Airport, Paris, France
Destination Nice Airport, France

On 1 September 1953, an Air France Lockheed L-749 Constellation, registered in France as F-BAZZ, flying Flight 178, a scheduled flight from Paris to Nice, crashed into the Pelat Massif in the French Alps near Barcelonnette on the first stage of the flight, between Orly Airport and Nice Airport.[1][2] All 42 on board were killed, nine crew and 33 passengers including the French violinist Jacques Thibaud.[1]


The Constellation had left Orly at 22:00 and was due at Nice at 23:55. At 23:25 the aircraft requested permission to descend from 13,600 ft (4 145 m) to 11,500 ft (3 505 m) and reported violent local storms.[1] Around 23:30 villagers at Fours-St. Laurent saw the aircraft crash into the side of Mont Le Cimet, about ten miles (16 km) away. The aircraft struck the ground about 500 ft (150 m) below the summit and burst into flames.[1]

A rescue party from Fours left about 90 minutes after the accident but did not arrive at the scene until 5:25, they were joined by a doctor and nurse from Barcelonnette and two teams from the Chasseurs Alpins.[1] The Chasseurs Alpins were equipped with radio and reported at 6:45 that no survivors had been found.[1]

The accident investigation established "controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)" as the cause.[3]


The aircraft had 33 passengers, 30 bound for Saigon and three for Beirut. Three of the passengers were the 72-year-old French violinist Jacques Thibaud, his daughter-in-law and his accompanist.[1] Thibaud's 1720 Stradivarius violin, "Thibaud", was also destroyed in the crash.[4]


The aircraft was a four-engined Lockheed L-749 Constellation piston-engined airliner registered F-BAZZ, construction number 2674, that had first flown in 1951 in the United States and had been delivered to Air France on 18 July 1951.[2]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Thibaud Killed in Air Crash". The Times (52717). London. 3 September 1953. p. 6. 
  2. ^ a b Roach/Eastwood 1991, p. 237
  3. ^ Accident description for Air France Constellation F-BAZZ at the Aviation Safety Network
  4. ^ *"Famous Air Crash Victims - Part 2: Musicians". 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 


  • Eastwood, Tony; John Roach (1991). Piston Engine Airliner Production List. The Aviation Hobby Shop. ISBN 0-907178-37-5. 

External links

  • Aviation Safety Network report
  • Photos of the accident site in 2009
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