On this day in 1962, an Air France Boeing 707 crashes on the island of Guadeloupe, killing all 113 passengers and crew members aboard. This crash was only one of five major accidents involving Boeing 707s during the year. Altogether, the five crashes killed 457 people.
The Boeing 707 was built as a modification of the KC-135 military tanker and bomber. The design was altered so that it could carry passengers and it proved to be very popular with the exploding commercial-aviation industry. Although it burned more fuel, the 707 was faster than other commercial jets of the time.
Part of the French West Indies, Guadeloupe is a small island in the Caribbean. Its airport is located in a valley ringed by mountains. Pilots generally dislike the steep descent required for landing. On June 22, the Air France flight failed to descend correctly and crashed directly into a peak call Dos D’Ane, or the Donkey’s Back. The plane exploded in a fireball; there were no survivors.
The flight occurred before the advent of the black box flight recorder and no reason for the crash was ever found.
It was the third deadly crash of a Boeing 707 in a month. On May 22, 45 people died when a plane went down in Missouri and on June 3, another Air France 707 crashed in Paris killing 130 people. No evidence was ever found that connected the accidents.