The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUSEN
The trial judge makes the following Findings of Fact:
1. On September 1, 1955, plaintiff's decedent, Harold F. Fleming, 38 years of age, was an employee of Philco Corporation and had been assigned by that corporation to perform services for the United States Air Force in Alaska, pursuant to the terms of a contract entered into by the United States Air Force and Philco Corporation.
2. On September 1, 1955, plaintiff's decedent, in the course of his employment, was one of seven passengers aboard a U.S.A.F. C-47 airplane, which departed at 1906 A.S.T. from the Air Force Base at Elmendorf, Alaska, with a crew of five, on a non-stop flight to Nome, Alaska. The flight was estimated to take three hours and twenty minutes and to cover 472 nautical miles.
3. At the time the aircraft departed, the weather conditions at Elmendorf Air Force Base were as follows: visibility 15 miles; scattered clouds at 4,500 feet; broken clouds at an estimated 9,000 feet; broken clouds at 20,000 feet; wind calm. The enroute weather forecast was favorable for a V.F.R. flight,
although instrument flight regulation were to be followed for training purposes. The aircraft was cleared for 11,000 feet on Amber Airway 1.
4. At the time the aircraft departed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, it was in good and safe operating condition. It carried 800 gallons of fuel, sufficient to keep it airborne for eight hours, and its gross weight was 26,450 pounds.
5. The aircraft was a two-engine aircraft manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation, Model VC-47-D, Serial No. USAF 45893, and was accepted from the manufacturer during the fiscal year 1945.
6. The pilot and commander of the aircraft was Major Anthony W. Am Rhein, U.S.A.F. The so-pilot was Captain Robert C. Wilson, U.S.A.F. Major Am Rhein was fully qualified to command and pilot this type aircraft in accordance with the strict qualifications required by the Air Force in Alaska as of September 1, 1955.
7. At 1915 A.S.T., the aircraft reported over Susitna Intersection, its first check point, at 6,000 feet, climbing, and estimated Skwentna Radio Range at 1935 A.S.T. At 1933 A.S.T. the aircraft reported over Skwentna at 11,000 feet, estimating Puntilla Homing Beacon at 1940 A.S.T. At 1937 A.S.T., this last estimate was revised to 1950 A.S.T.
8. At 1955 A.S.T., when it was approximately 45 miles west of Skwentna at an altitude of 11,000 feet, the aircraft advised that, because of a backfire in its left engine, it was making a 180-degree turn and requested clearance back to Elmendorf Air Force Base. Anchorage ARTCC granted clearance and advised that the aircraft maintain 11,000 feet via Amber Airway No. 1. From this time on, the operator of the aircraft was confronted with a critical situation.
9. At 1956 A.S.T., the aircraft reported that it would maintain 11,000 feet to Skwentna but would take a lower altitude after passing Skwentna. Anchorage ARTCC issued new clearance to the aircraft to descend to and to maintain 5,000 feet after passing Skwentna.
10. At 2000 A.S.T., the aircraft advised that it was estimating Skwentna Radio Range Station at 2010 A.S.T. At 2009 A.S.T., this estimate was revised to 2015 A.S.T. At 2011 A.S.T., the aircraft advised Skwentna Radio Range Station that it was going to land at Skwentna Air Field. Anchorage ARTCC issued immediate clearance for this approach. The aircraft further advised that its radio signals were fading in and out, but it had the Skwentna Airport Beacon in sight. At 2017 A.S.T., the aircraft reported that it was making a straight in approach landing to the east.
11. At this time, it was twilight at Skwentna Air Field and the weather conditions were as follows: broken clouds at an estimated 12,000 feet; broken clouds at 18,000 feet; visibility 20 miles; barometric pressure 29.09; temperature 46degrees F.; dew point 45; wind calm.
12. There was no other aircraft in the traffic pattern or in the immediate vicinity of the airstrip, and no aircraft occupied any portion of the runway.
13. Skwentna Air Field is located between the Yentna and the Skwentna Rivers at a point near their junction and is approximately 65 miles from Elmendorf. On September 1, 1955, it had one hard-packed, gravel-surfaced runway, which ran approximately northwest by southeast and was 3,500 feet in length and 150 feet wide. Its navigational aids, which were in operation, consisted of a radio range, an SBRA2 range, air/ground; rotating beacon light; illuminated windsock; and range, obstruction, boundary threshold and runway lights. The airfield was not equipped with a control tower and had no crash equipment available. The surrounding terrain was rough, but not mountainous or hilly. The filed was suitable for C-47 type aircraft.
14. At approximately one to one-and-a-half miles from the west end of the runway, the aircraft was at an altitude of approximately 300 feet, was properly aligned with the runway, and was making a normal, single-engine approach, with the left propeller in a feathered position and with landing gear down and flaps no more than one-half extended.
15. At approximately one-half to three-quarters of a mile from the west and of the runway, the operator of the aircraft initiated a go-around procedure, applying power to the right engine, which caused the plane to deviate momentarily from its course.
16. When the aircraft passed over the runway, it was at an altitude of approximately 75 feet. Landing gear and flaps were still down. Power was still being applied to the right engine. The aircraft passed over the runway without gaining altitude. Its gross weight at this time was less than 25,750 pounds.
17. After the aircraft passed over the runway, and at approximately one-quarter of a mile from the east end of the ...