United Express Flight 5925

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United Express Flight 5925
Quincy Regional Airport-Baldwin Field.png
Overhead view of the Quincy airport.
Date November 19, 1996
Summary Runway incursion and Pilot Error on the King Air
Site Quincy Municipal Airport, Gilmer Township, Adams County, Illinois, near Quincy, Illinois, United States
Total fatalities 14
Total survivors 0
First aircraft
N164YV Beech 1900C United Exp-Mountain West Al LAX 12MAR94 (6785029006).jpg
A United Express Beechcraft 1900C similar to the one involved.
Type Beechcraft 1900C
Operator Great Lakes Airlines for United Express
Registration N87GL[1]
Flight origin Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Last stopover Burlington Airport
Destination Quincy Municipal Airport
Passengers 10
Crew 2
Fatalities 12
Survivors 0
Second aircraft
Beechcraft King Air A90 (6872705504).jpg
A Beechcraft King Air A90 similar to the one involved.
Type Beechcraft 65-A90 King Air
Operator private
Registration N1127D[2]
Passengers 0
Crew 2
Fatalities 2
Survivors 0

United Express Flight 5925, operated by Great Lakes Airlines with a Beechcraft 1900 twin turboprop, was a regularly scheduled flight from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Quincy, Illinois, with an intermediate stop in Burlington, Iowa.

On November 19, 1996, the aircraft collided on landing at Quincy with another Beechcraft, a private King Air, that was taking off from an intersecting runway. All occupants of both planes, twelve on board the 1900 and two on board the King Air, were killed as a result.[3]


Wreckage of Great Lakes 5925.

United Express Flight 5925 had departed from Chicago at 15:25, with Captain Kate Gathje (30), First Officer Darren McCombs (24), and ten passengers. After a stop at Burlington, Iowa, the flight proceeded to Quincy. Two aircraft at Quincy were ready for departure when Flight 5925 approached. Both, a Beechcraft King Air and a Piper Cherokee were proceeding to Runway 04. As Quincy is a non-towered airport, all three aircraft were operating on the same Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. On approach, Captain Gathje inquired as to whether the King Air would hold short of the runway, or depart before their arrival. After receiving no response, the United Express pilot called again, and received a reply from the Cherokee that they were holding short. However, due to the ground proximity warning system sounding in the 1900s cockpit, only part of the transmission was received by the 1900. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the Cherokee pilot’s interrupted radio transmission, which led to the United Express crew's misunderstanding of the transmission as an indication from the King Air that it would not take off until after Flight 5925 had cleared the runway.

Assuming that both planes were holding, Flight 5925 landed on Runway 13. The King Air, however, had taxied into position on Runway 4, and had begun its takeoff roll when Flight 5925 landed. Both aircraft collided at the intersection of runways 4 and 13. The aircraft skidded for 110 feet (34 m), coming to rest alongside Runway 13, and caught fire. Several pilots in the vicinity of the crash came to the scene, but were unable to open the doors of the aircraft before both planes were destroyed by fire. All 12 aboard the 1900 and both pilots of the King Air perished in the accident.


Diagram of aircraft positions involved in the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was the King Air pilots' failure to effectively monitor both the common frequency and to scan for traffic. A contributing factor was the Cherokee's transmission at the same time as the United Express transmission. Lack of adequate rescue and firefighting equipment was cited as a factor in the high fatality rate.[3] The stepson of one of the King Air pilots, admitting that he knew nothing about piloting aircraft, wrote a letter a few days later to an aviation news website disputing the NTSB's findings, stating that the investigators "are not very bright people, and they don't seem to know what they're doing", suggesting that the NTSB had missed key points that had, in fact, been addressed.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The crash was featured in the 15th season of the television documentary series Mayday in an episode titled "Fatal Transmission", which featured interviews with witnesses and accident investigators and a dramatic reenactment of the crash.[5]


  1. ^ "FAA Registry (N87GL)". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  2. ^ "FAA Registry (N1127D)". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  3. ^ a b "Aircraft Accident Report, Runway Collision, United Express Flight 5925 and Beechcraft King Air A90, Quincy Municipal Airport, Quincy, Illinois, November 19, 1996" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. July 1, 1997. NTSB/AAR-97/04. Retrieved September 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ Corich, Dan (July 21, 1997). "What Really Happened at Quincy?". AVWeb. Aviation Publishing Group. 
  5. ^ "Fatal Transmission". Mayday. Season 15. 2016. Discovery Channel Canada / National Geographic Channel. 

External links[edit]