Texas International Flight 655
Convair 600  N94230  MSN 56
27 September 1973


From The Times (Shreveport, LA) 1 October 1973


Accident Narrative

On the evening of the 27th of September, 1973, Texas International Airlines, Inc. was operating the Convair 600 N94230 on a flight between Memphis and Dallas with stops in Pine Bluff, El Dorado, and Texarkana, Arkansas.  It was not to be a comfortable flight, however, as a line of thunderstorms intersected the route between El Dorado and Texarkana.  While on the ground at El Dorado, the crew talked to two pilots at the Flight Service Station, and even used the Convair's radar to find a hole in the weather.  They discussed what appeared to be a break in the storms about 35 miles west-northwest of the airport.  Although cleared by dispatch for an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) trip, upon departure the crew contacted the FSS and informed the controller that the flight was proceeding visually to Texarkana.

After takeoff, Flight 655 turned northwest and followed various headings for the next thirty minutes.  First Officer William Tumlinson was flying the aircraft, taking heading commands from Captain Ralph Crossman.  Tumlinson soon became concerned about the airplane's track, that they really didn't know where they were, asking "You got any idea where we're at?"  "Yeah, two-sixteen'll take us right to the VOR", replied Crossman, "I'm not concerned with that, I could care less".

Twenty-seven minutes into the flight, Crossman ordered a turn to 290 degrees and a descent to 2000 feet.  Tumlinson said, "Man, I wish I knew where we were so we'd have some idea of the general terrain around this place".  "I know what it is....That the highest point out here is about twelve hundred feet.  The whole general area, and then we're not even where that is, I don't believe", was Crossman's reply.  Thirty seconds later, the plane began to receive the signal from the Page VOR (located in Oklahoma).  "About a hundred and eighty degrees to Texarkana", said Crossman.  "About a hundred and fifty-two", replied Tumlinson, consulting his charts.  "Minimum enroute altitude here is forty-four hund...."  Ironically, his statement was interrupted when the Convair collided with Black Fork Mountain, nearly one hundred miles north of Texarkana.

The aircraft struck the mountain at 188 knots (207 miles per hour) and disintegrated. Of the eight passengers and three crewmembers, no one survived.  The wing fuel tanks ruptured and spilled fuel down the steep slope, and there was only a small fire in the center wing section.  The aircraft was not required to have an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) installed.

A search was initiated as soon as the aircraft was declared overdue.  This search would ultimately involve personnel and aircraft of Texas International, the Army National Guard, and the Civil Air Patrol.  In spite of these efforts, Flight 655 would not be found until three days after the crash.  The search turned tragic on the first day, when a Guard UH-1D Huey from Camp Robinson crashed near Prescott, AR while enroute to the search area.  The three crewmembers were killed.

First expedition
03 August 1997
Second Expedition
28 September 2002
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