35 Years Ago Today: Firemen Engulfed in Flames after DC-6 Crashes near Van Nuys Airport

Tuesday, February 08, 2011 |

Three civilians died and ten Los Angeles firemen were injured on the drizzling Sunday morning of February 8, 1976, when engine trouble forced the pilot of a Mercer Enterprises DC-6 charter aircraft to attempt an emergency landing at Van Nuys Airport.

Losing power, the four engine aircraft - with only a flight crew aboard, pancaked onto the Woodley Golf Course near the airport. The aircraft skipped a quarter-of-a-mile across the fairways, smashed through a starter's shack and stopped near Victory Boulevard and Havenhurst Avenue.

First-arriving Los Angeles firefighters thought they heard voices in the smashed cockpit. As a firefighter prepared to use a rotary saw to cut into the cockpit, other firefighters laid a foam blanket and stood by with foam and water supply lines.

The saw, striking a stainless steel fitting ...

We encourage you to learn more about this incident, and view dramatic photos of this and other significant LAFD events by visiting the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive at:


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


Anonymous said...

I remember when this incident happened.... You will note that full turnout gear wasn't being worn. Back in those days, LAFD didn't require it. It was as a result of this incident that the policy was changed to full turnouts had to be worn.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 12:36,

You have a keen power of observation and an excellent grasp of our Department's history.

This incident did bring forth important change in our Department, and is an excellent example of a mishap creating an opportunity for analysis and improvement.

Thanks for visiting the LAFD News and Information blog.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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