Fire on the Mountain: The crash of Japan Airlines flight 123

Recovery crews work to remove bodies from the crash site of Japan Airlines flight 123. (The Japan Times)
JA8119, the aircraft involved in the accident. (Kjell Nilsson)
Two views of the bulkhead are shown on the upper right. The triangular section in the bottom left, and the leftmost of the three side views in the upper left, show the way the repair was supposed to be carried out. Diagram courtesy of Flight International via Macarthur Job’s Air Disasters Vol. 2.
Cross sections of a normal skin section joint, the repair as proposed, and the repair as executed. Note the fundamental difference between the two diagrams on the left and the diagram on the right. (Own work)
The aft pressure bulkhead of a Boeing 747, viewed from inside the pressurized area. (Melanie Lee)
Photos of the pilots of Japan Airlines flight 123, arranged from left to right by descending order of rank. (Source unknown because I can’t read it)
A detailed diagram of how the tail broke apart. Art by Matthew Tesch in Macarthur Job’s Air Disasters Vol. 2.
A photo taken by a passenger inside the cabin of flight 123 after the explosive decompression. Everyone in this photo, including the cameraperson, perished in the crash. (Original photographer unknown)
This animation from the TV show “Mayday” approximates how the plane was flying. Note that the actual phugoid period was 90 seconds, considerably slower than this animation. (Mayday/Cineflix)
How a Dutch roll works. (Roberto Merino-Martinez)
The path of flight 123 after the onset of the emergency. (BBC)
A photo taken by a witness on the ground shows flight 123 missing its tailfin. (Japan Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission)
Illustration of the flight path by Matthew Tesch in Macarthur Job’s Air Disasters Vol. 2.
A note written in a memo book aboard the doomed flight by Hirotsugu Kawaguchi, 52, to his wife and children. (Japan Bullet)
/u/FACR_Gohan created this detailed animation of the crash of Japan Airlines flight 123 using real flight data. It is by far the most accurate video reconstruction of the accident. Watch the full reconstruction here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxT51aeUaHQ
This was the sight which greeted the first aircraft to fly over the wreckage. (The Asahi Shimbun)
An early aerial view of the wreckage. The plane impacted the ridge upside down coming from the left. (Jiji Press)
Rescuers lift Keiko Kawakami into a helicopter for immediate transportation to hospital. (Source: probably NHK)
Rescuers remove bodies from the scene of the crash. (The Japan Times)
In this aerial photo, the tail section can be seen in the bottom of the ravine on the left, where it rolled after the crash. This is where the survivors were found. (Source unknown because I can’t read it)
Military personnel work at the crash site. (Robert Wallis)
The remains of the tail section in the bottom of the ravine. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The devastation caused by the impact of the 747 against the ridge is difficult to fathom. The area is visibly scarred to this day. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Another aerial view of the entire crash site, showing the main wreckage area and the tail section in the ravine. (The Asahi Shimbun)
Flight 123’s reconstructed aft pressure bulkhead on display in the JAL museum. (FlightGlobal)
A helicopter hovers over the wreckage the day after the crash. (Source unknown because I can’t read it)
The rear pressure bulkhead where it came to rest in the wreckage. (Kyodo News)
Relatives of victims visit the monument, erected at the crash site, listing the names of the 520 victims. (JIJI Press)

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

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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg

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

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