Lights in the Darkness: The crash of Eastern Air Lines flight 401

The wreckage of Eastern Air Lines flight 401 lies in the Florida Everglades after the crash. (Ron Infantino)
An advertisement for the L-1011 from 1972, featuring an Eastern Air Lines promotion. (Lockheed)
N310EA, the aircraft involved in the accident. (Jon Proctor)
The pilots of flight 401, from left to right: Bob Loft, Bert Stockstill, and Don Repo. (Rob and Sarah Elder, “Crash”)
This group photo was taken by the flight attendants on the flight into New York before flight 401 on the day of the accident. All these stewardesses would be on the accident flight; two would die in the crash. (Ron and Sarah Elder, “Crash”)
Flight 401 a couple hours before its departure, photo taken by a surviving passenger. (Ron Infantino)
A man climbs into the “hellhole” on an L-1011. (Miami Herald)
The path of flight 401 during its final minutes. (NTSB)
An annotated flight path diagram by Matthew Tesch in MacArthur Job’s “Air Disaster: Volume 1.”
Inside the “hellhole,” this was the sight which greeted Don Repo. (Michael D. Davis)
Artist’s impression of the moment flight 401 first touched the water. (Anonymous author)
The full breakup sequence of the aircraft, as illustrated by Matthew Tesch in Macarthur Job’s “Air Disaster: Volume 1.”
An aerial view of the crash site and the extensive wreckage trail. (NTSB)
Another aerial view of the wreckage. From left to right, one can make out the cockpit, the center section, and a life raft which was released during the breakup. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
In the rear economy lounge, the roof and walls were torn away, leaving the floor with seats intact. (Ron Infantino)
Looking at the wreckage, it’s hard to believe so many people survived. (The Miami Herald)
This piece of the center section was one of the more recognizable parts of the plane. (Ron Infantino)
The remains of the cockpit, from which only Angelo Donadeo escaped alive. (The Miami Herald)
Inside the wreckage of the center section. (The Miami Herald)
Another aerial view of the wreckage reveals the sheer scale of the debris field — and this is only part of it. (The Miami Herald)
A view of the crash site from farther afield reveals more of the wreckage. (Ron Infantino)
The center section and the cockpit of flight 401. (The Miami Herald)
Investigators work near the remains of the cockpit. (Ron and Sarah Elder, “Crash.”)
The jet’s tail section was one of the other recognizable chunks. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
Official poster for the TV movie version of “Ghosts of Flight 401. (Amazon)
From the center section, looking toward the cockpit. (Ron and Sarah Elder, “Crash”)



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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