On July 21, 1961, Alaska Airlines Flight 779 flew from Everett, Washington to Travis Air Force Base, California. After being loaded with cargo, the flight proceeded to Anchorage, en route to Tachikawa AFB, Japan. The flight to Anchorage proceeded normally, and the plane was refuelled at Anchorage for the flight to Shemya, its next stop before Japan.
The crew received weather briefings for the flight to Shemya, although the field's deficiencies were not noted. The flight departed Anchorage normally at 19:40, proceeding to Shemya. Contacting Shemya at 00:40 while in cloud cover at 10,000 feet, the crew expected to arrive at the airport at 01:55. At 01:28 the flight was cleared to descend to 5500 feet; it was then 100 miles from the airport.
Shemya was contacted again at 01:45; the flight was 18 miles away. Shemya notified the crew that the airport was clear, and there was one mile visibility in the light fog. The crew intercepted the glidepath normally for runway 10. Approximately 2 miles from touchdown, the flight dipped below the glidepath. By the time the flight was one mile out, it was approximately 40 to 50 feet below the glidepath, though still within the minimum allowable tolerances.
Approximately 200 feet from the end of the runway, the flight descended into an embankment, very nearly lined up with the runway centerline. The aircraft broke apart on the embankment, separating into several pieces. A fire followed impact, and most of the aircraft was consumed. All six occupants were killed in the crash.