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When a commercial airliner crashes these days, it is standard practice to focus on retrieving the flight data and cockpit voice recorders to aid in the investigation.

But in 1966, the year Braniff Flight 250 crashed north of Falls City, the use of such devices was in its infancy.

The Braniff crash killed all 42 people on board, making it the deadliest commercial air disaster in Nebraska history. And it was the first fatal crash in the U.S. of a plane that carried a cockpit voice recorder.

Unfortunately, according to newspaper accounts of the crash, the recording didn't shed much light on the doomed flight's last moments.

A "rushing air" sound can be heard 11 seconds after the last crew transmission and 26 seconds before the tape ends. There also were klaxon sounds seconds before the tape ended.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board's report on the crash, the rushing air sound likely "marks the initial failure of Flight 250." But that appears to be the only significant finding from the recording.

One other noteworthy fact about the crash: Dr. Ted Fujita, who gained fame as the inventor of the Fujita scale to measure tornado intensity, was among the investigators trying to determine the crash's cause.

At the time, Fujita was a professor at the University of Chicago. He was hired by British Aircraft Corp., the manufacturer of the plane, to study how weather affected the flight.

He introduced his Fujita scale in 1971.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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