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…


An investigator examines the wreckage of Delta flight 723, as a Boeing 747 and a Boeing 707 taxi across the airport in the background. (The Boston Globe)

On the 31st of July 1973, a Delta Air Lines DC-9 on approach to Boston, Massachusetts slammed into a seawall at the foot of the runway, spewing burning wreckage across the airport and killing 88 of the 89 people on board. The lone survivor was Leopold Chouinard, who clung to life despite severe injuries, becoming a Bostonian folk hero in the process — but, tragically, he died in hospital four months after the crash, leaving no one left alive who could tell the story of Delta flight 723.

That story began with an approach that was dangerously rushed, an unseasonable…


An aerial view of the wreckage of the B-17 Nine-O-Nine after it collided with a de-icing station. (Hartford Courant)

On the 2nd of October 2019, a WWII-era B-17 Flying Fortress carrying paying passengers on a “living history” flight landed short of the runway at Connecticut’s Bradley Field. The warplane veered off to the right and crashed headlong into a de-icing station, where it burst into flames, triggering a mad rush to escape. Six people crawled from the mangled plane, but seven died in the rapidly spreading inferno. The loss of the plane and the loss of lives shocked the antique warbird community, which relied on revenues from paying passengers to keep the old bombers in airworthy condition. …


The front page of the Press and Journal documents the recovery of the wreckage of Dan-Air flight 0034. (Press and Journal)

On the 31st of July 1979, a chartered airliner carrying oil workers home from the Shetland Islands failed to become airborne on takeoff from Sumburgh Airport. The Hawker Siddeley HS 748 with 47 people aboard careened off the end of the runway and crashed into the freezing waters of the North Sea, which quickly began to fill the cabin. As the passengers struggled to escape, the plane started to sink nose first, slipping beneath the waves with passengers and crew alike still trapped inside. …


An artist’s impression of the collision, originally printed in an edition of Reader’s Digest from 1966. (Reader’s Digest, artist unknown)

On the 4th of December 1965, an incredible drama unfolded in the skies above New York when an Eastern Airlines Super Constellation collided in midair with a TWA Boeing 707 at 11,000 feet. Both planes, severely crippled, hurtled onward, their crews working furiously to save the lives of their passengers. The 707, missing 25 feet off of its left wing, managed to turn around and make a harrowing emergency landing at New York’s JFK International Airport, narrowly avoiding disaster. The Constellation lost all of its pitch controls, and despite their best efforts, the pilots could not reach any airport. In…


An early map of possible debris sightings, from the days before the crash site was found. (Asia One)

On the first of January 2007, an Indonesian Boeing 737 with 102 passengers and crew on board disappeared amid heavy thunderstorms over the Makassar Strait. For days, searchers scouring both on land and in the water found no trace of the plane. When a signal from the black boxes was detected on the ocean floor three weeks later, it seemed that the truth would soon be found — but in fact, the ordeal was just beginning. Six months of bureaucratic bickering ensued while the airline tried to avoid paying for the recovery. All that time, the black boxes lay beneath…

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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