Do you remember this M404? I’ll never forget it!

You can click on the picture a couple of times to see a supersized version.


I’ve been looking for a pic of this bird ever since PC. There is something I want you to see that used to scare the livin’ crap out of me that was peculiar to this and another M-404 we had. Look at that prop and draw a line down the fuselage vertically to indicate the danger line of propeller travel. Now look for the small white inverse triangle sign. That is the flap under which the Ground Power Unit plug went in. We had to “always approach the prop from behind” carrying the heavy, hot cord up the centerline and plug that thing in while the engine was running before he could cut the engine. The reverse procedure was repeated for departure.


PC had a great “show and tell” session that traveled the system displaying the dangers of this arrangement which consisted of a PC agent describing it that had only one arm. He was a victim. Now that made an impression. My biggest question was – who the hell designed this #@&%$ system anyway.        – Jim Johnson, LAS

6 Responses to “Do you remember this M404? I’ll never forget it!”

  1. Tom Erwin said:

    The SO m404s, we backed the hobart power unit in ahead of the nose wheel,and the receptacle was a door on the fuselage right above the nose gear on the left side. Scarey, but not near as dangerous. Ours were all old Eastern AC.

  2. Bill Critch said:

    I believe that there is a M-404 in PAL livery at Planes of fame in AZ, but could not confirm it.

  3. Buck Hilton said:

    Jim, The two registration numbers of the Martin 404’s that had the power connection next to the end of the prop were N444A and N455A. The two planes were previously Eastern aircraft.

  4. Jim Johnson said:

    Thanks so much for that info Buck. That would explain why I thought their were two of them. So all this time I thought 422 was the culprit. Now that that’s solved I’ll ask about what triggerd the note on 422. What is that marking and was I even close as to the location of those two aircrafts external plug. Any knowledge about why TWA “wanted” ot there? Great to have an expert here Buck. This site just is getting better all the time.

  5. Bob Stevens said:

    Hi Dan,

    I’ve been sitting on the sharing of a tragic (at the time) story that happened in San Jose in about 63/64, and after checking pretty thoroughly I wasn’t able to find a record of it.

    It is likely not the kind of memory that any of us would promote, but is certainly remarkable. A man named Ray Helton was working the ramp, unloading/loading a Martin 404 when he pulled the power cord over to the pit storage in the ramp, under the Martin. He had already unplugged it and was just assembling the cord toward the pit, and when he jerked it, his left arm went into the path of the R propeller, the first engine started upon a startup after a short shut-down, and it cut his arm off between the shoulder and elbow.

    I was not on duty when that happened, and Duane Siggins (Supervisor on duty) called me at home to come in and cover, saying only to “ask no questions, just come in”. It left the staff in grief and shock so our shop was laden with this dark cloud of sadness for a couple weeks, and some agents who were on duty that day, carried that with them for quite some time. Ray did remarkably well with a prosthetic, staying employed as the primary ticket agent there until after I left sometime in early/mid ’66 to transfer to SFO. Ray was a very bright man and much more pragmatic than emotional, so seemed to deal with this very well, never seeming to be “stuck” with any effects of his accident.

    I’ve never discussed it as it’s just one of those things that doesn’t lend itself to the category of fond memories of our otherwise great old airline experiences.

    Bob Stevens

  6. Jack Furrer said:

    I would like to make some comments concerning the SJC agent losing his arm to the right propeller of a Martin 404. We had about 10 to 12 Martin 404’s at the time. 8 to 10 of them were from TWA and the other two were from Eastern. The TWA aircraft had the power receptacle installed on the right side behind the trailing edge of the wing. The Eastern aircraft, on the other hand, had the receptacle installed on the right side in front of the wing.
    The accident happened on September 19, 1965 at 8:18am. Our Flight number was 41 and we originated in SFO heading down the valley with a stop at SJC. I was the Captain onboard that flight. Our plane was parked next to the gate and the power cord was stored in ground. The agent basically forgot where he was when he was handling the power cord and backed into the prop. Obviously there was blood all over the place and one of the other agents tackled him to the ground and with the help of others applied a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Of course I will never forget this unfortunate incident. The reason I am so clear about the date, time, and other information is because I’m sitting here reading the report I submitted to the company following the accident.

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