Security camera footage captured the moment Tatarstan Airlines flight 363 nosedived into the ground next to the runway at Kazan International Airport. (RT)

On the 17th of November 2013, the crew of a Russian airliner on approach to the city of Kazan decided to abandon an unstable approach and go around for another attempt. But as the Boeing 737 climbed away from the runway, it pitched steeply upward, then turned over into a near-vertical dive, plummeting 2,000 feet in a matter of seconds before slamming into the ground with a massive explosion. None of the 50 people on board survived.

Investigators would find that answers lay not in the smoldering pile of wreckage, but in the troubled history of the flight crew and…


Note: this accident was previously featured in episode 3 of the plane crash series on September 23rd, 2017, prior to the series’ arrival on Medium. This article is written without reference to and supersedes the original.

The vast wreckage trail left by United 232 slices across two runways and a corn field at Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City, Iowa. (Sioux City Journal)

On the 19th of July 1989, a United Airlines DC-10 bound for Chicago was rocked by a massive explosion. The number two engine tore itself to pieces, sending debris ricocheting through the tail section and severing all three of the plane’s hydraulic systems. Within moments, the pilots found themselves at 37,000 feet with a plane full of passengers and no way to control it…


The wreckage of Loganair flight 670A is revealed during low tide the day after the accident. (AAIB)

On the 27th of February 2001, a Scottish cargo plane lost power in both engines shortly after takeoff from Edinburgh. With only seconds to find a landing spot, the pilots faced a stark truth: they weren’t going to make it back to shore. Loganair flight 670A came down in the waters of the Firth of Forth and broke into two pieces, driving the cockpit underwater before the crew had any chance to escape. Both pilots drowned in the freezing waters of the North Sea, leaving only the black boxes to explain what went wrong with their plane.

The data showed…


Note: this accident was previously featured in episode 2 of the plane crash series on September 16th, 2017, prior to the series’ arrival on Medium. This article is written without reference to and supersedes the original.

A still from the TV show “Mayday” attempts to capture the harrowing final moments of Alaska Airlines flight 261. (Mayday)

On the 31st of January 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 bound for San Francisco suddenly plunged from the sky off the coast of California, spiraling downward until it slammed into the Pacific Ocean. The horrific crash killed all 88 people on board and raised troubling questions about one of America’s largest airlines. For two hours, the crew of the ill-fated jet had struggled with…


Experts examine the wreckage of Eastern Airlines flight 66 after it crashed on approach to JFK Airport. (AP)

On the 24th of June 1975, the crew of an Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 lined up to land on runway 22L at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Ahead of them, two other planes flew through a thunderstorm just off the end of the runway, encountering violent winds that nearly sent both aircraft plummeting into the ground. But Eastern Airlines flight 66 continued blithely after them, unaware of the true danger of the storm that lay ahead. Just moments from landing, a powerful downdraft gripped the 727 and slammed it to earth, where it struck the approach lighting system…


Note: this accident was previously featured in episode 1 of the plane crash series on September 9th, 2017, prior to the series’ arrival on Medium. This article is written without reference to and supersedes the original.

Recovery crews work to remove bodies from the crash site of Japan Airlines flight 123. (The Japan Times)

On the 12th of August 1985, a fully loaded Japan Airlines Boeing 747 suffered a catastrophic failure of the aft pressure bulkhead after takeoff from Tokyo, throwing the passengers and crew alike into a desperate battle for survival. The explosion destroyed all four hydraulic systems and left the pilots without any control over the airplane, which soon embarked on a terrifying rollercoaster ride through…


Video captured by planespotters shows Aerosucre flight 157’s disastrous takeoff. (Original author unknown)

On the 20th of December 2016, a Colombian cargo plane overran the runway while attempting to take off from the city of Puerto Carreño. In an event captured on video, the Boeing 727 plowed through the airport perimeter fence, nearly struck several planespotters, clipped a tree and a sentry box, then finally lurched into the air. As the stunned planespotters continued to watch with cameras rolling, the pilots fought to regain control of their badly damaged jet, which had lost its number three engine, part of its landing gear, and all of its hydraulic systems. …


(Own work + Tomas Milosch)

On the 9th of July 2018, a Moroccan airliner on approach to the city of Al Hoceima came inches away from disaster when it bounced twice off the Mediterranean Sea while descending in fog. Against all odds, the pilots managed to get their heavily damaged plane back in the air and divert to a nearby airport without injuring any of the 58 people on board. But instead of fessing up to his error, the captain tried to pass off the damage as being the result of a bird strike! A deeper investigation revealed that this preposterous lie was only the…


The wreckage of Palair flight 301 lies in a field outside Skopje, Macedonia. (Rune Lind)

On the 5th of March 1993, a Fokker 100 jet flying for the national airline of the newly independent republic of Macedonia lost control during takeoff from Skopje, rolling wildly from side to side before cartwheeling into a field and breaking apart, killing 83 of the 97 people on board. Macedonian authorities wanted to close the case quickly, drafting a final report just two months after the accident. But a Dutch team sent to represent the aircraft’s owner and manufacturer refused to accept this bare-bones inquiry, and kept investigating for another year, revealing the science behind why the plane went…


The charred remains of Air Algérie flight 5017 in the Sahara Desert. (ABC News)

On the 24th of July 2014, a Spanish airliner operating on behalf of Air Algérie disappeared over the Sahara Desert in the middle of the night, plunging from cruise altitude without a distress call. The charred remains of the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 and its 116 passengers and crew were found the next day in a remote area of Mali near the border with Burkina Faso. None of those on board had survived. The mystery of the crash only deepened when investigators from France, Spain, and Mali discovered that the cockpit voice recorder had malfunctioned, recording nothing useful from the ill-fated…

Admiral_Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (soon™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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