International Airport, June 1975...The
burning, twisted wreckage of an Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 lay amid
clothing and luggage strewn about the charred earth.
TWA Flight 800 left JFK
International Airport on July 17, 1996 and crashed in the Atlantic,
killing all 230 people on board.
Tribune Photo by David Oats
Makeshift morgues along Rockaway Boulevard attested to the
horrors of the crash. The jet carried 115 passengers and eight
crewmembers – en route from New Orleans to JFK.
One hundred and nine people died when the jet crashed and
burned during an attempted landing at JFK in the midst of an electrical
Fourteen people survived the crash.
Eyewitnesses said they saw lightning strike the tail of
the jet as it approached JFK’s Runway 22-Left.
It was the worst single plane disaster ever in the
metropolitan area. The death toll ran just one short of the worst single
plane crash in U.S. history up to that point.
A blast ripped apart the main terminal building at
LaGuardia Airport killing 11 people and injuring 58.
Eastern Airlines Boeing 727
crashed and burned during an attempted landing at JFK International
Airport in 1975.
The airport was a target of a bomb blast inside the
baggage area of TWA’s lower concourse.
The tragedy left a large portion of the terminal in rubble
and because anyone could have been in the building at the time of the
blast, passenger lists were of no help in identifying the dead. After
years of intensive investigations it was never discovered whether the
bomb was intended to go off in-flight or if the terminal was the target.
Although police investigators suspected a Croation
terrorist group, the culprits were never found.
Airport, September 1989
The air was chilly on the Wednesday night when USAir
Flight 5050 took off from LaGuardia headed to North Carolina.
Moments after the start of its takeoff, the Boeing 737
plunged into Bowery Bay when the pilot aborted the takeoff.
It slammed into the water and broke into three parts as it
hit a light stanchion and a pier in the water.
Two women were the only fatalities – their destiny was
decided when they took two seats at the precise spot where the plane
split. There were 57 passengers and six crew members aboard the flight.
More than 40 passengers were injured.
Two were taken to local hospitals where they were admitted
for chest pains and head injuries.
Controversy soon filled the probe into the crash when a
passenger told investigators that he had been out “bar-hopping” with
the pilot, co-pilot and a stewardess just before the flight.
The accusations were never proven, and federal
investigators later pointed to a defect in the aircraft rudder as the
cause of the crash. The rudder was subsequently redesigned.
Tragedy stalked the 51 people on board USAir Flight 405,
doomed on a snow-slicked runway leading into Bowery Bay.
A bomb blast at LaGuardia
Airport on Dec. 29, 1975 killed 11 people
and injured 58.
Bound for Cleveland, the Fokker F28-4000 crashed on
takeoff at the end of LaGuardia Runway 13-31, killing 27 and injuring
Eighteen of those who died drowned while trapped in their
seats. The jet’s pilot was one of the fatalities.
Survivors said the jet was briefly airborne before the
“first” crash. They recalled bodies floating through fire and smoke.
People were with missing limbs, some decapitated, yet
still in their seats – with their seatbelts on. One male passenger
recalled an initial panic throughout the cabin – and then a
“terrible, terrible silence.”
Rescuers suffered more than 100 injuries – most caused
by shanks of metal protruding from the wreckage and the icy waters of
International Airport, August 1992
A ruptured fuel tank forced TWA Flight 843 to abort
takeoff from JFK International Airport.
The Lockheed L-1011 was enroute to San Francisco when the
pilot was forced to land the plane on JFK Runway 22.
As a massive fire grew in the tail section of the
aircraft, 292 passengers and eight crew members were safely evacuated by
sliding down emergency chutes activated by the crew.
Firefighters successfully doused the blaze, keeping it
away from 100,000 pounds of unburned fuel in the aircraft’s central
International Airport, July 1996
TWA Flight 800 took off from Queens’ JFK Airport, headed
to Paris on the night of July 17, 1996.
Twelve minutes and 90 miles later, the Boeing 747 burst
into flames and tumbled into the Atlantic Ocean, just off East Moriches,
L.I., setting the sea on fire, and killing all 230 people onboard.
Three and a half years later, investigators had yet to
release an “official” cause of the crash.
Probers ruled out an act of terrorism as the cause, and
pointed to a massive mechanical malfunction instead – possibly from a
spark, which caused an explosion in the plane’s massive central fuel
Delta Flight 801, a Boeing 727 with 132 people on board,
departed LaGuardia Airport for Tampa, Florida.
Moments into the flight, the pilot radioed that he was
experiencing trouble with a rear engine.
The plane was diverted to JFK Airport, but as it made its
approach it dropped several small pieces and one large chunk of the
engine on houses along 63rd Avenue in Flushing. The pilot managed to
safely land the airplane.
International Airport, August 1996
A nine-foot long piece of wing flap tumbled into the
middle of 156th Avenue between 89th and 90th Streets in Howard Beach.
The 40-pound outboard flap broke off the right wing of TWA
Flight 782, a Boeing 727 from Orlando, Florida, headed for JFK. No one
was injured on board the plane. But the street below was not as lucky.
The wing flap carved a two-inch deep hole in the street.
TWA officials were caught red-faced on the following day,
when FAA investigators walked into a TWA hangar at JFK and found airline
mechanics working feverishly to fix the plane’s broken wing.
The problem was that TWA officials had not yet notified
the FAA that the wing came from one of their planes.