Though clouds and thunderstorms had been forecast, it was a clear evening as American flight 383 descended into Cincinnati the night of November 8, 1965. On the flight deck was Captain Bill O'Neil, Check Captain David Teelin, and Flight Engineer John Lavoie. Along with three flight attendants, there were 56 passengers on board the Boeing 727 inbound from New York. Clouds and lightning were seen to the north as 383 descended through 5,000ft, making a left downwind for runway 18. At this point, the crew reported to Cincinnati Approach that they had the airport in sight and would like to make a visual approach.

Approach control approved the visual approach, clearing 383 to 2000ft and reporting precipitation to the west of the airport moving south. 383 was then instructed to contact the tower and, upon doing so, the tower reported the aircraft in sight and cleared it to land. The tower then reported that the precipitation had moved over the airport and light rain was falling. When asked if it still had the runway in sight, the crew replied "Ah...just barely...we'll pick up the ILS here." The tower told 383 that all of the airport lights had been turned up high to which the crew replied "OK." Just a few seconds later, 383 flew into the west bank of the Ohio river, exploding and killing all but three passengers and a flight attendant.
Examination of the wreckage showed that the aircraft had impacted the river bank at 665ft, which was 225ft lower than airport elevation. The aircraft was in a level attitude and configured properly for landing. No evidence of equipment malfunction could be found. Examination of the ATC radar tapes showed areas of rain in the vicinity of the airport. It appeared that 383 crashed just prior to entering the leading edge of one of the areas. One survivor of the crash reported that, while it wasn't raining when he exited the aircraft, a heavy rain began almost immediately after. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft flying low over the river valley and apparently in a gradual descent. A pilot of a small aircraft inbound from the north reported that conditions were visual to the north but there were thunderstorms to the west and a line of rain over the river valley to the north of the airport with low-lying clouds. Recovery of the aircraft's FDR showed that the aircraft was stabilized at 2,000ft while flying downwind.

As it turned for a left base, it began a descent at about 800fpm. About half a minute before impact, descent rate increase to over 2,000fpm until just before impact when it was brought back to around 600fpm. One contributing cause of the accident was obviously the crew's inability to stabilize it's approach. Entering the downwind with excess speed, they were unable to complete configuration changes until turning the base leg when company profiles stipulate that nearly all the configurations should have been completed before the base leg, giving the crew more time to concentrate on flying the aircraft. However, even this non-standard approach should have been possible for such an experienced flight crew.

Clearly, the weather at the time played an important role. In visual conditions on downwind, the aircraft would have entered the area of low-lying clouds and rain as it crossed over the river and turned base. The thunderstorms to the northwest may have obscured this weather, making it difficult to see. Upon entering the rain, the crew may have attempted to descend below it in order to keep the airport in sight until it descended below the top of the river bank.

Also attributed to the accident was improper crew co-ordination. American requires that altitude and airspeed be called out by the non-flying pilot whenever the aircraft is 500ft or lower above the airport. Also, the descent rate should be called when it exceeds 700fpm after this point. The FDR showed that the aircraft's descent rat exceeded this throughout the time it was below 500ft above the airport, indicating that either Teelin didn't make the proper calls or was not monitoring the instruments. With the less than adequate visual conditions, both pilots may have been looking out the window to maintain visual contact, thinking the other was monitoring the instruments. It was concluded then, that improper crew co-ordination in conjunction with deteriorating weather led to the crash of flight 383.