Aug 5, 2009
5 – Chicago, May 25, 1973 – This particular crash occurred before he airplane was even fully in the air and remains the worst crash in American history if we’re going solely by the number of people that died on board an individual plane. In total, there were 273 people on board the American Airlines DC-10.
The flight had only just taken off from O’Hare airport when the engine actually physically detached from the plane, but it was the fact that it damaged the wing as it fell off that caused the plan to roll 90 degrees before turning into a massive fireball. It led to all DC-10s being grounded because the design was faulty. Unfortunately, it was too late for the 273 people that had to learn the hard way.
4 – Riyadh, August 19, 1980 – There were 301 people killed on board flight Saudia L-1011. Although the flight had taken off on its way to Karachi, it touched back down in Riyadh just after takeoff.
It touched down safely but there was no evacuation. If the crew had have evacuated the passengers immediately nobody need have died, but as it was the plane’s engines continued to run and ultimately caused a flash fire to ravage the plane about 3 minutes after it landed.
To this day, nobody knows why the crew failed to begin the evacuation procedures or how many lives it would have saved. Although this technically isn’t a plane crash, it’s still one of the biggest tragedies to ever occur on an airplane.
3 – Mt Fuji, August 12, 1985 – August seems to be a bad month for plane crashes, and this one was no different. 520 people were killed on the Japan Air Lines 747 that crashed by Mt Fuji. It was originally thought that this crash was a freak accident because of the location of the airplane when it came down, but further investigations proved that theory wrong.
An aft bulkhead ruptured during the flight and seriously damaged the tail of the plane. This caused the plane to spiral out of control and it went the only way it could – down. It was human error, but not on the part of the pilot.
The bulkhead had been repaired 7 years earlier and had been an accident waiting to happen ever since. The repairs had been botched and it was a wonder they had held for as long as they did.
2 – Tenerife, March 27, 1977 – This plane crash is a little different to the rest in that nothing fell off and nobody had the chance to evacuate. Instead, a KLM Boeing 747 met a Pan Am Boeing 747 head on as they were both trying to negotiate the runway in dense fog.
The KLM flight hadn’t waited for permission to depart and met the Pan Am flight, which did have permission to taxi along the runway. A total of 583 crew and passengers died because of the pilot’s defiance in not waiting for the order. This is the worst plane crash in European history.
1 – New York, September 11, 2001 – This is a day that will live in infamy, and will also go down in history as the day that the war on terror officially commenced. It was also the worst plane crash in living memory as a result of the number of people that died and the sheer nature of what happened. 4 planes were hijacked just after leaving their respective New York airports.
Two were flown directly into the World Trade Centre, with a third hitting the Pentagon and a fourth crash landing in Pennsylvania, which was presumed to also be heading to Washington before the passengers and crew challenged the terrorists for control of the plane.
In total, 2974 people lost their lives that day as a direct result of the crashes, whether they were passengers, workers or members of the rescue team. There were only 246 passengers present on the planes, which is less than all of the above crashes, but the final total dwarfs them all.