Braniff Airways Trip One
Douglas DC-2-112  MSN 1253  NC13727
Oklahoma City Air Terminal
26 March 1939

The Daily Oklahoman carried news of the crash in an Extra edition.  © The Daily Oklahoman

 The  Crash

    By 1936, Braniff Airways was a well-established airline, having been founded in Oklahoma City by Paul Braniff and his brother, Tom.  Tom, as president of the airline, wanted to acquire airplanes that would put them on par with the other main airlines: American, TWA,  and United.  He made arrangements with TWA to purchase seven Douglas DC-2s.  The first Braniff flight with a DC-2 took place on 1 June 1937, in ship number NC13727.

    Nearly two years later, NC13727 was being operated as Braniff's Trip One, from Chicago, IL, to Dallas, TX.  Intermediate stops were made in Kansas City, MO, Wichita, KS, and Oklahoma City.  The crew was Captain Claude Seaton, First Officer Malcom Wallace and Flight Hostess Louise Zarr. 

    Trip One departed Oklahoma City at 0242.  As the airplane cleared the northern boundary of the airport, the manifold pressure on the left engine dropped.  Severe vibration and noise accompanied the failure of the engine; Capt. Seaton determined the airplane was still under control.  He radioed to the tower that the flight would be returning.  During the turn, Capt. Seaton could see the cowling of the left engine was in disarray, with the lower half missing and the upper half bent back in the slipstream.  The aircraft yawed violently, and the rudder became ineffective as the airspeed dropped to below 80 MPH.  They continued to lose altitude until the airplane crashed nearly one mile west of the field's administration building. 

    Miss Zarr and seven passengers sustained fatal injuries in the crash.  Only the cockpit crew and two passengers survived.

This crash remains to this day Oklahoma City's worst airliner accident.

Front view of the stricken Douglas.  Photo © The Daily Oklahoman


The view from the right wing tip shows the destruction to the cabin from the post-impact fire.  Photo © The Daily Oklahoman

Page Two
The Investigation

 Crash Site Main