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Nov 16, 2011

A Wooden Wing Failure in 1931 (TWA Flight 599)

Fokker F.10A Trimotor

Early wooden wings had some mishaps which promoted the use of the (at that time) new full aluminium wing. Here is the story of the Fokker F.10 (TWA Flight 599) as told in the Popular Mechanics, Dec., 1971. Not only did the wooden wings have problems, also two Lockheed Electras crashed in 1959 and 1960 due to flutter in the now fully aluminium wing.

These planes were built in America by the Fokker Aircraft Corporation and not in Europe as one might believe when Fokker name is mentioned. /2/

"The weather was inauspicious. So much so that Anthony Fokker would later angrily argue that the flight should never have gone ahead." /4/

March 31, 1931 - Bazzar, Kansas , Fooker 10A Trimotor , Trans Continental and Western Air flight number 599.

"Heathman, who was 13 years old at the time he discovered the plane crash with his father on March 31, 1931, was the last living witness to the plane crash." /3/

Video about Fokker F.10

"Fokker Trimotors were manufactured out of wood laminate; in this instance, moisture had leaked into the interior of one wing over a period of time and had weakened the glue bonding the structural members (called struts or spars) that prevented the wing from fluttering in flight. One spar finally failed; the wing developed uncontrolled flutter and separated from the aircraft." /1/

Anthony Fokker (center) in the F.10A (Image: Dutch Aviation)

So to say that sensitive wooden structures should be protected against moisture also inside and tested agains flutter (and go around bad weather).



/2/ Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1971



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