TWA Flight 891
Starliner N7301C of TWA, sister ship to the accident aircraft
Date26 June 1959
SummaryLightning strike
SiteNear the hamlet of Marnate,[1] Italy
Aircraft typeLockheed L-1649A Starliner
OperatorTrans World Airlines
Flight originMalpensa Airport (MXP) (MXP/LIMC), Italy
DestinationParis-Orly Airport (ORY) (ORY/LFPO), France

TWA Flight 891 was a Lockheed L-1649A Starliner that crashed not long after taking off from Milan Malpensa Airport on 26 June 1959. All 68 passengers and crew on board were killed.


On 26 June 1959, TWA Flight 891 departed Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy, with a crew of 9 and 59 passengers on board. 16 passengers were from Italy, four passengers and three crew members were from France, four came from the United Kingdom, two came from Chile, one each came from West Germany, Egypt and Israel with the remaining 30 passengers and six crew members were American.[2] The flight had originated in Athens, Greece, and had stopped in Rome before flying on to Milan.[3] The subsequent leg of the flight destination was to Paris' Orly Airport. When Flight 891 departed Milan, light rain was falling with a low overcast and a ceiling of around 2,000 feet, with visibility of approximately two miles (3.2 km). There were also thunderstorms in the area.[4]

Twelve minutes after takeoff, the flight crew reported the aircraft was climbing through 10,000 feet. A few minutes after that, the Starliner suffered structural failure and broke up in mid-air. Everyone on board was killed.[3]

Flight 891 was the first fatal aviation accident involving a Lockheed Starliner.[5] In terms of loss of life, it was also the worst air crash of 1959.[6]


On 24 November 1960, an Italian inquiry board announced its finding that a lightning strike had brought down Flight 891.[7] "The breaking-up in flight was due to the explosion of the fuel vapors contained in tank number 7, followed immediately by either an explosion of pressure or a further explosion in tank #6. In the absence of other significant concrete evidence, taking into account the stormy weather conditions, with frequent electric discharges, existing in the area at the time of the crash, it may be assumed that the explosion of the fuel vapors contained in tank #7 was set off, through the outlet pipes, by igniting of the gasoline vapors issuing from these pipes as a consequence of static electricity discharges (streamer corona) which developed on the vent outlets."[8]

See also


  1. ^ TWA Plane, 68 aboard, Crashes Near Milan", Lewiston (ME) Evening Journal, June 21, 1959, p1
  2. ^ "Sonia Labbe Quinteros (24 anni), sua figlia Pilar Quinteros (5), e suo figlio Luis Quinteros Jr. (2)" (in Italian). Olgiate Olona 26 giugno 1959. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  3. ^ a b Airliner Breaks Up In Storm, Killing 68: Plane bound for US hits near Milan
  4. ^ Gero, David (1996). Aviation Disasters Second Edition. Patrick Stephens Limited. p. 33.
  5. ^ Ranter, Harro. "Aviation Safety Database Lockheed L-1649A Starliner". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2021-03-21.
  6. ^ Ranter, Harro. "List of air crashes in 1959". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Cause of TWA crash listed". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 1960-11-29. Retrieved 2021-03-21 – via Google News.
  8. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed L-1649A Starliner N7313C Milano". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2021-03-21.

45°37′39″N 8°53′34″E / 45.62750°N 8.89278°E / 45.62750; 8.89278