June 22, 1962
Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadaloupe: On what was to be the end of the third leg of a multi-stop flight from Paris, France to Santiago, Chile, Air France Flight 117, a Boeing 707, registration F-BHST, crashed on approach to the airport after only four months in service. Very little is known of what happened on that fateful flight other than several contributing factors seemed to have doomed the flight from the beginning so that it went down with all 113 souls aboard. When officials and investigators began to piece together the events of that day, multiple issues seemed to give rise to an inevitable downed craft.
The first thing that investigators noted was that the weather was punishing over Guadaloupe at the time of the attempted landing, with violent thunderstorms and a very low cloud ceiling. This, along with an airport that is surrounded by mountains which requires a steep ascent glide plane did not help matters any. Investigators also discovered that the VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) finder was not serviceable at the time of the attempted landing. The crew did report that they had found the Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and were on course for landing, a faulty Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) caused by the storm, put the plane 15km off course from their glide path. The plane crashed into a hillside and killed all those aboard.
While investigators couldn’t conclude a single cause for the crash, the combination of the previously mentioned elements led them to believe that all of these contributing factors made for an impossible safe landing.