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Greetings, readers. As promised, here is part 2 of a top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes that I have watched many times and studied. As all of you know, I love to figure out what goes wrong when these gigantic aircraft crash. Sometimes it is as simple as an incorrectly set lever, or in one instance, a pilot who was going to be fired committed suicide and took everyone on board with him. You will find many reasons in the following list. It has been a while seen I have seen a few of these episodes, and I was not able to watch them recently (as I wrote last week) so I used Wikipedia to compile my list. Though I’ve seen them all, I needed help with titles, dates, flight numbers, etc. I hope you appreciate this one as much as so many you did the first list.
#10. “Flying Blind” – Aeroperu Flight 603 [The year 1996 in October. Because of a maintenance blunder, the pitot tubes were left covered. When the aircraft took off, it immediately started to get false readings from the on-board instruments. After half an hour of being lost over water, the plane crashed into the sea with crew believing they were at a higher altitude than they were.]
#9. “Flying on Empty” – Air Transat Flight 2368 [2001, August. The Air Transat flight developed unusually low fuel load readings which the pilot and co-pilot thought was a computer error. As it turned out, a hose in the fuel line system gave out and the fuel leaked away. Luckily the aircraft was at a high enough altitude and the pilots were skilled enough to glide to an airport in their range and have a safe landing.]
#8. “Out of Control” – Japan Airlines Flight 123 [1985, August. After suffering an explosive decompression in the massive 747 tail section, the flight was doomed. The crew fought valiantly for close to 40 minutes before crashing into a mountain range,
killing all on board killing all but four people on board. (Editor’s note: August 2017: A reader pointed out my error and sent me a comment so I could make the correction.) A faulty repair was to blame. The man who okayed the repair committed suicide afterward.]
#7. “Mistaken Identity” – Iran Air Flight 655 [1988, July. Due to a horrible misunderstanding during the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, the United States warship, USS Vincennes, thought they were firing a missile at a F16 fighter which was not answering hails. Instead, it was an Air Iran passenger jet incapable of receiving that hailing frequency. All 290 on board were killed.]
#6. “Kid in the Cockpit” – Aeroflot Flight 593 [1994, March. A proud pilot’s 15 year-old son was invited into the cockpit. Mistake #1. He was allowed to sit in the captain’s seat and pretend to steer the aircraft. Mistake #2. When the autopilot disengaged while the child was turning the yoke, the craft banked hard right and stalled. The g-forces prevented the pilot from getting back into his seat. Any child at the yoke of a commercial aircraft is a big mistake.]
#5. “Falling from the Sky” – British Airways Flight 9 [1982, June. Flight 9 took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on route to Perth, Australia. The 747, during a night-time flight, flew through volcanic ash that they could not see which caused all four engines to fail. After several attempts to restart the engines, they finally came back to life, and the jumbo jet landed at a nearby airport.]
#4. “Panic over the Pacific” – China Airlines Flight 006 [1985, February. The number 4 engine developed a temporary malfunction and stopped working. Due to pilot error, the plane went into a terrible tailspin. After many attempts to restart the engine, and what seemed like forever to regain control, the China Airlines flight made a successful emergency landing at San Francisco International. There was structural damage to the aircraft from the descent. It was later determined that any more structural failure would have brought down the jet.]
#3. “Gimli Glider” – Air Canada Flight 143 [1983, July. I followed this story from a TV movie they made about it some years back, and as in many cases the incident was completely avoidable. The brand new Boeing 767 was metric and at Montreal Airport the fuel crew failed to convert gallons into liters and only filled the plane half full of the fuel load required. If it were not for the brilliant flying of Bob Pearson and crew, landing at an abandoned air force base, the plane would have been doomed. He was able to glide it in over a long distance.]
#2. “Fatal Distraction” – Eastern Airlines Flight 401 [1972, December. Eastern Airlines Flight 401 was on its way into Miami International when it developed what appeared to be a mal-functioning landing gear light bulb. The crew fiddled with it but could not get it to light up. While they were distracted by pulling the bulb out, the captain bumped the altitude hold knob and the plane descended in the dark of night. The realized what was happening about 100 feet off the ground, way too late. The plane crashed into the Everglades. 101 people died and 75 people survived. On an eerie note, certain parts of the aircraft that could be salvaged and were in working order were installed in other Eastern Airlines planes of the same type. Crew members reported ghostly figures of the dead crew … if you believe in that sort of thing.]
#1. “Frozen in Flight” – American Eagle Flight 4184 [1994, October. While in a holding pattern waiting to land in rough weather, a commuter plane suddenly banked hard right and spun out of control. Though the pilots fought valiantly, the aircraft did not have enough altitude and it slammed into the ground, killing all 68 on board. The reason was a design flaw that made the de-icing system ineffective on a certain area of the wing. Too much freezing rain built up while flying in the holding pattern and the plane could not stay airborne anymore. The ATR-72’s wing was redesigned and the problem was fixed.]
There is our second top ten list of Air Crash Investigation episodes. I’m reluctant to say enjoy it with so much disaster and grief associated with so many of the stories, but if you are a fan of the show and have not seen these episodes, check them out.
Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.