TWA, DC-3 , NC1946, crash west of Las Vegas, Nevada,

on January 16, 1942

Many refer to this one as "the Lombard wreck."


TWA Flight Plan. TWA 3 proposed departure 6:45 P.M., cruise 8,000 cross Palmdale 6,000, Newhall 4,000, Burbank one thirty-three. KF

ATC TWA cleared to Burbank Tower, cruise 8,000, cross Palmdale 6,000, Newhall 4,000.

TWA  Some delay on TWA 3 in Las Vegas. I don't have the approximate departure time.


TWA  TWA 3 was off Las Vegas at zero seven, and he was in Las Vegas at 36, six-three-six.

ATC OK, thank you.

ATC WC  7:08 P.M.

ATC  Traffic for TWA 3 is northeast bound Western 10, estimated Daggett seven fifty-nine, climbing to 9,000.

ATC  WC  7:34 P.M.

TWA I haven't been able to contact TWA 3 on Silver Lake check. Silver Lake is an authorized check point-- I mean required Airways check point, isn't it?

ATC That's right. Yes.

TWA Thought he might understand he just give us time to Daggett as his first estimate, and he might have been under the impression didn't have to check over Silver Lake.

ATC Well, don't forget to give him the traffic of Western 10.

TWA I'll broadcast that to him on day and night. KF

ATC 7:50 P.M.

ATC Burbank Airways (Answering call on Las Vegas line)

LQ I got a report from ah-- the operator at Arden, a Mr. Flare from Blue Diamond Mine near Arden Beacon, that they heard a plane go over, and shortly after a crash, there's a fire burning over in that section now. I have no planes in the vicinity, do you know of any? I checked with TWA and TWA cleared here at seven-O-seven, ah, ah-- there's no reports since he left.

The above information is from dictaphone records in the Burbank Airway Traffic Control Center. The black and white photos are from the Civil Aeronautics Administration's mishap report compared with a view of the crash site today.

TWA Transcontinental and Western Air radio Dispatch Room.

ATC Airway Traffic Control Center, Burbank, California.

LQ Airway Communication Station, Las Vegas, Nevada.

KF Mr. Korf, Radio Operator, Transcontinental and Western Air.

TWA Flight Three was on the final leg of a transcontinental flight from New York to Burbank when it crashed approximately 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas on 16 January 1942. Actress Carole Lombard and 21 others were killed when the aircraft struck a cliff, approximately 500 feet from the mountain top.

Wreckage was located from the air on the morning of 17 January. The first ground party reached the crash site later that afternoon. Inspection revealed the the aircraft collided with the lower part of an almost perpendicular cliff. As a result of the crash and ensuing fire, the aircraft was completely demolished. The largest piece was the shattered tail section, found inverted and approximately 30 feet down the  slope. Ms. Lombard was returning to California following a successful war bonrockyd drive in Indianapolis. At the time of the accident, Ms. Lombard was married to Clark Gable and returning to California for the January 18th opening of To Be or Not to Be costarring Jack Benny.

Little debris remains today. A small amount of wreckage was wrestled off the mountain by the original search crew. Present day salvagers have removed all, but the smallest pieces of aluminum. Engines and landing gears are the largest pieces remaining at the site. 

Thanks to Craig Fuller and Nick Veronico for taking me to this site many years ago.

Copyright © 2002-2024 Chris McDoniel

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One of the landing gears from the DC-3.

Recovery team at the crash site.

Same cliff area as seen in the above photo.

View looking down at the tail section. Photo from the mishap report.

Another photo from the mishap with one of the wings showing the aircraft's registration number.

On the day I visited the crash site, another gentleman in the party came across pilot wings. The wing reads, "Transcontinental and Western Air."