Transcribed from The Free-Lance Star, Fredericksburg, VA, June 13, 1962, p. 8:
Lost Bolt May Have Caused Crash
By WALTER R. MEARS
WASHINGTON (AP) — A mechanic’s oversight, a tiny cotter pin and a bolt less than an inch long could have been the ingredients of disaster in the New York crash of a jet airliner, the Federal Aviation Agency says.
Ninety-five people were killed when the American Airlines Boeing 707 plunged into Jamaica Bay on March 1, seconds after taking off from Idlewild Airport.
The FAA said the bolt, part of a complex rudder mechanism, may have slipped out of place when a nut securing it fell off– for lack of the little cotter pin.
The agency wired airlines and other organizations that fly 707 jets Tuesday, warning them of the potential danger spot. One such warning went to the Military Air Transport Service, which operates the Boeing jets used by President Kennedy and other government leaders.
George C. Prill, director of the FAA flight standards service, said the New York crash “could have been the result of an installation mistake by one man on one aircraft.”
“We do not see this as a possible explanation for any other 707 crash about which we have any information,” he said. “But it would not be the first time that an airplane crashed because a mechanic left a cotter pin out of a bolt.
“You cannot say this is it–we can never prove it happened even though it could have happened!”
Prill said the Civil Aeronautics Board still is investigating the New York crash and will make the final decision on the probably cause.