Rain of Fire Falling: The crash of American Airlines flight 191

This legendary photograph by Michael Laughlin captured the final seconds of American Airlines flight 191. (AP)
N110AA, the aircraft involved in the accident. (Jon Proctor)
Diagram of the engine and pylon assembly. (NTSB)
A diagram by Matthew Tesch in MacArthur Job’s “Air Disasters: Volume 2” illustrates the differences between the two methods of removing the pylon.
Diagram of the pylon’s fore and aft attachment points. (NTSB)
This FAA animation demonstrates how the pylon aft bulkhead could be damaged during the re-installation process. (FAA)
How the clevis and the bulkhead upper flange came together — the actual parts recovered from flight 191 are shown on the left. (Macarthur Job, NTSB, and Mayday/Air Crash Investigation)
N110AA taxis to runway 32R about two minutes before the crash. This photo was taken by the same Michael Laughlin who took the famous photo of the plane in flight.
From left to right, Captain Lux, First Officer Dillard, and Flight Engineer Udovich. (The Chicago Tribune)
CGI animation of the separation of flight 191’s left engine. (Seconds from Disaster)
Michael Laughlin’s photo captures the final seconds of flight 191. (AP)
Seconds later, the same photographer captured the explosion when the plane struck the ground. (AP)
Firefighters work to put out the flames at the scene of the disaster. (AP)
This series of lesser-known images also captured the DC-10’s brief flight. (Original photographer unknown)
The Chicago Tribune’s front page on the day after the accident. (Chicago Tribune)
An aerial view of the crash site shows the extent of the damage. Yellow tarps can be seen scattered about; each one covers human remains. (AP)
Another aerial view of the crash site, while some of the fires were still burning. (Photographer unknown)
The plane’s two remaining engines were some of the largest pieces of debris found at the crash site. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
Flags were also used to mark human remains for recovery. The smoking debris field was covered in hundreds of flags. (Chicago Sun-Times)
The plane’s left wing created this deep furrow as it struck the ground. (Moises de Dios Perez)
Pieces of flight 191’s engine lie on runway 32R. (NTSB)
A rare full color, high-definition image of the crash scene, complete with the huge number of yellow tarps and flags. (Bettman)
Most of the plane was reduced to tiny, unidentifiable fragments. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Numerous cars were destroyed along with the old hangars, which were being used as warehouses. (Chicago Tribune)
Firefighters search for remains and items of interest in the debris field. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
Some pieces of debris landed on this mobile home and burned it to the ground. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
The plane’s landing gear was among the few immediately recognizable pieces. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
A memorial garden now honors the victims, each of whom is inscribed upon a brick in a circular wall. (The Traveling Steves)



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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.