Strange and Unusual Accidents

Details of the accidents can be obtained by looking up the dates in the main database. 

03/28/1933 Imperial Airways
Armstrong Argosy II
Dixmude, Belgium A fire, possibly started by a passenger attempting to commit suicide, caused the plane to crash killing all 15 aboard. This is thought to be the first act of sabotage on a commercial airliner.
10/10/1933 United Air Lines
Boeing 247
Chesterton, Indiana The aircraft was destroyed by an explosive device using nitroglycerin. This was the first proven case of sabotage in the history of commercial aviation.  
02/09/1937 United Air Lines
DC-3
San Francisco, California The co-pilot dropped his microphone which jammed the controls preventing the pilot from pulling out of the glide. The plane crashed killing all 11 aboard.
07/28/1945
 U.S. Army
 B-25
New York City, New York A U.S. Army Air Force B-25 crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in fog, killing 3 aboard and 11 on the ground.
08/02/1947 Brit So Am. Airways
Avro Lancastrain 
Andes, Argentina Wreckage of the plane was  found on January 19, 2000, 53 years after the plane crashed.
10/24/1947 United Air Lines
DC-6
Bryce Canyon, Utah While transferring fuel from one tank to another, the crew allowed fuel to overfill and overflow out the vent. A design flaw allowed the gasoline to be carried back in the slipstream to the cabin heater combustion air intake scoop. When the cabin heater came on, an explosion and fire destroyed the plane killing all 53 aboard.
10/08/1947 American Airlines
DC-4
El Paso, Texas As a prank, a captain riding in the jump seat engaged the gust lock in flight. The command pilot, not knowing the gust lock had been engaged, rolled the elevator trim tab with no response. When the jump seat captain disengaged the gust lock, the aircraft went into into a steep dive, executed part of an outside roll and become inverted. Neither the command nor jump seat captain had seat belts on and they accidentally feathered No. 1, 2 and 4 engines when they hit the controls with their heads. No one realized it at the time but the feathering reduced power and allowed the co-pilot, who was strapped in, to pull out of the dive 350 feet from the ground.
01/07/1948 Miitary Franklin, Kentucky

January 7, 1948, Captain Thomas F. Mantell of the Kentucky Air National Guard was piloting an F-51from Standiford Air Force Base, Kentucky accompanied by three other Guard planes. At approximately 1:30 PM, the Kentucky State Police began receiving reports from worried citizens of spotting a large circular object flying over the city of Mansville. In a matter of minutes the area of the sightings expanded to cover Irvington and Owensboro. The large, metallic flying craft was then clearly seen from the tower of Godman Air Force Base. The object was described as being an extremely large, round, whitish in color, with a red light toward its bottom side, and seemed to be moving slowly toward the South.

A little over an hour after the first reports, Mantell's group was asked to investigate the anomalous object. One of his three companions in flight received permission to continue his pre-assigned flight plan, while Mantell and the remaining two planes headed to the coordinates of the visual sightings. Mantell led the way in the climb to 15,000 feet, and upon reaching the position, he radioed the following statement back to the control tower."The object is directly ahead of and above me now, moving at about half my speed... It appears to be a metallic object or possibly reflection of Sun from a metallic object, and it is of tremendous size... I'm still climbing... I'm trying to close in for a better look." 18,000, 20,000, 22,000 feet! too high for the WWII fighters without oxygen! The other two planes turned back, leaving Mantell alone to pursue the giant object. By all accounts, Mantell must have passed out from lack of oxygen at about 30,000 feet, at least his plane leveled off at that height. His plane now began to plunge back toward earth. He crashed on the farm of William J. Phillips near Franklin, Kentucky.

 Mantell's watch stopped at 3:16 PM, and his body was still strapped in his plane. He had spent 45 minutes in a frantic flight into the realm of the unknown. By 3:50 PM, the giant craft was not visible from Godman, but reports continued as the UFO continued southward into Tennessee.

06/17/1948 United Air Lines
DC-6
Mount Carmel,  
Pennsylvania
Carbon dioxide extinguishers were discharged in response to a fire warning in the cargo hold. The plane's nose was lowered for an emergency descent and due to a design flaw, carbon dioxide entered the cockpit and rendered the crew unconscious after which the plane crashed killing all 43 aboard.  
09/09/1949
Canadian Pacific
Airlines
DC-3
Sault-aux-Cochons, PQ, 
Canada
The DC-3 disintegrated in flight outside of Quebec killing all 23 aboard.. A dynamite  bomb was planted in the forward baggage compartment by Albert Guay, a jeweler, in a plot to kill his wife who was a passenger on the plane. Guay, who assembled the bomb, had his accomplice, Marguerite Pitre air expressed the bomb on the aircraft. Ms. Pitre's brother, a clockmaker, helped make the timing mechanism. The insurance policy was for 10,000 dollars. All three were hanged for their crimes. 
03/03/1953 Canadian Pacific
Airlines
de Havilland Comet
Karachi, Pakistan The first crash of a commercial jet airliner in aviation history.
11/01/1955
United Airlines
DC-6B
Longmont, Colorado The aircraft crashed 11 minutes after taking off from Denver on a flight to Seattle. John Graham placed a dynamite bomb in his mother's luggage in the No. 4 cargo hold in order to collect $37,500 in insurance. A delayed flight caused the  bomb to detonate over flat land rather than the mountains as planned. Forty-four people were killed. Graham never showed any remorse for his actions and refused to file any appeals. He was executed for the crime on November 11, 1956.
02/01/1957 Northeast Airlines DC06A New York, NY Shortly after lifting off from La Guardia Airport in a snowstorm, the plane rolled sharply to the left and crashed on Rikers Island. Several inmates from the Rikers Island Prison made some heroic rescues and were later pardoned.
12/01/1959 Alleghney Airlines
Martin 202
Williamport, Pensylvania Crashed onto a mountain after a malfunctioning compass indicated an erroneous heading. Only one of the 25 passengers survived, found up in a tree, still buckled in his seat. This was his second plane crash.
01/06/1960 National Airlines
DC-6B
Wilmington, North Carolina A despondent passenger detonated a dynamite bomb in his lap blowing the airliner out of the sky and killing 34 people. He was insured for 1 million dollars.
10/04/1960 Eastern Air Lines
Lockheed 188A Electra
Boston, Massachusetts  While taking off, the aircraft hit a flock of Starlings which were ingested into the engines. Three of the 4 engines lost power which resulted in loss of control of the aircraft killing 62 out of 72 passengers aboard. 
12/21/1961 British European
Airways
de Havilland Comet
Ankara, Turkey The plane assumed an extremely steep climbing angle, stalled and crashed during takeoff. One of three screws on the captain's horizon indicator worked its way loose and blocked the pointer on the dial indicating an incorrect pitch. Twenty-seven of 34 aboard were killed.
07/15/1962 Indian Airlines
C-47A
Lahore, Pakistan A vulture crashed through the cockpit window and killed the copilot.
11/23/1962 United Air Lines
Ellicot, Maryland The aircraft struck a flock of Whistling Swans at night, at 6,000 ft. One, estimated to be 13 pounds, struck the leading edge of the tail stabilizer, weakening the structure and causing it to detach. The aircraft lost control and crashed killing all 21 aboard. 
09/04/1963 Swissair
Caravelle III
Durrenasch, Switzerland Without authorization, the pilot taxied half-way down the runway to try and clear fog. Braking done during the fog clearing overheated the brakes. Soon after takeoff, the overheated brakes caused a tire to burst which damaged a fuel line and started a fire. The plane crashed shortly after killing all 80 people aboard.
05/07/1964 Pacific Air Lines
Fairchild F-27A
San Ramon, California The aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed while on a flight from Stockton to San Francisco, CA. The last message which had to be obtained through laboratory analysis was "Skipper's shot. We've been shot. I was trying to help." Francisco Gonzales, a passenger, who had told several people he was going to kill himself, shot both the pilot and co-pilot causing the plane to crash killing all 44 aboard. 
06/28/1965 Pan American AW
B-707-321
San Francisco, California Just after the aircraft took off from San Francisco International Airport the No. 4 engine disintegrated tearing off 25 feet of the right wing. An emergency landing was safely made at Travis Air Force Base. A plane was dispatched to pick up the passengers at Travis Air Force Base. While attempting to land, and in plain view of the passengers, the nose gear collapsed.
03/05/1966
British Overseas
Airways
B-707-436
Mt. Fuji, Japan The aircraft crashed into Mt. Fuji after encountering severe turbulence when the pilot decided to give the passengers a view of the mountain. The aircraft encountered severe clear air turbulence and started to come apart in the air before crashing killing 124 aboard.
04/22/1966 American Flyers
Airline
Lockheed Electra
Ardmore, Oklahoma The airliner crashed into foothills while attempting to land killing 83 of 98 aboard. The captain was incapacitated with a heart attack during the final stages of the approach. The captain, who suffered from a long standing heart condition and diabetes, managed to keep his pilot's license by falsifying his medical records.
06/23/1967 Mohawk Airlines
BAC-111-204AF
Blossburg, Pennsylvania The airplane crashed after an in-flight fire destroyed the pitch control systems. All 34 people aboard were killed.  A malfunctioning nonreturn valve allowed hot engine bleed air to flow back through an open air delivery valve, through the APU and into an acoustic blanket lined section of the fuselage. This caused flexible hoses with hydraulic fluid to ignite and lead to an uncontrollable fire.
11/22/1968 Japan Air Lines
DC-8-62
San Francisco, California The plane landed in Pacific Ocean, 2.5 mile short of the runway in the shallow waters of San Francisco Bay. All 107 people aboard were safely evacuated off the plane. The aircraft was recovered from the San Francisco Bay 55 hours after the accident, repaired and eventually flew back home to Japan and was in service for many decades.
04/01/1970 Aeroflot
Antonov 24
Novosibirsk, Russia The aircraft crashed killing 61 of 82 aboard after colliding with a balloon.
07/05/1970

Air Canada
DC-8-63
Toronto, Canada While landing and approximately 60 feet above the runway, the spoilers were inadvertently deployed by the first officer causing the aircraft to fall to the runway and lose the No. 4 engine. The crew then decided to go-around. While circling to land the aircraft exploded after leaking fuel ignited. All 109 aboard were killed.
09/08/1970 Trans International Airlines
DC-8
New York, NY A piece of asphalt flew up and wedged itself in the right stablizer leading to a loss of pitch control The plane crashed killing all 11 aboard.
11/24/1971 Northwest Airlines
Boeing 727
Ariel, Washington Not really an "accident" but:
On November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper boarded a Boeing 727, Northwest Airlines, Flight 305 at Portland Oregon bound for Seattle Washington. Soon after the plane took off , Cooper, seated in seat 18C, stated he had a bomb. He demanded $200,000 in cash and several parachutes. After the plane landed at Seattle, the passengers were allowed to leave. Cooper and four crew members took off with his instructions to fly towards Mexico. The pilot was instructed to fly no higher that 10,000 feet and below 200 mph. He asked the flight attendant how to open the tail stairway and ordered her to the front of the plane. Shortly after, the crew felt a thud and Cooper jumped from the plane with a 21 lb. package of money tied to his waist. He was never heard from again. Despite a massive search, no sign of him was ever found. The FBI calculated he landed somewhere near Ariel, Washington. Cooper jumped into the darkness at 7 below zero temperatures with strong winds and freezing rain. He was not equipped to survive in the wilderness. Cooper, who became somewhat of a folk-hero in succeeding years, was probably killed in the jump or succumbed to the elements. The day after the skyjacking, FBI agents checked out a Portland man with the name D.B. Cooper but quickly cleared him. The newspapers picked up on it and incorrectly call the hijacker D.B. Cooper which stuck and was never corrected. In 1980, a boy playing on the banks of the Colombia River found 5,800 dollars in 20 dollar bills buried in the sand which matched the serial number of the money given to Cooper. Cooper’s lasting contribution to aircraft design is the "Cooper Vane," a latching device on Boeing 727s that prevents the tail stairway from being lowered in flight.
9/06/1971 Pan International
BAC-111
Hasloh, Germany The aircraft collided with a bridge, shearing off both wings, after a double engine failure occurred during takeoff. The water-injection system to cool the engines during takeoff was inadvertently filled with kerosene instead of water.
01/26/1972 JAT
DC-9-32
Hermsdorf, Czechoslovakia The plane crashed after the detonation of a bomb in the forward cargo hold. A flight attendant, 22 year old Vesna Vulovic, fell 33,330 feet in the tail section and although she broke both legs and was paralyzed from the waist down, survived. She was in a coma for 27 days and it took 16 months for her to recover.
10/13/1972 TAMU
Fairchild FH-227D
Near San Fernando, Chile The plane left Montevideo bound for Santiago, Chile carrying the Old Christians Rugby Team. The flight crashed into Andes mountains at 12,000 feet. The aircraft flew into a rotor zone or mountain wave which led to loss of control of the aircraft. The survivors were not found until 12/22/72 after two passengers hiked to civilization. Survivors resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Twenty-nine of 45 aboard were killed including five passengers who died in an avalanche on October 30th. The book and movie "Alive" is based on this accident. 
12/29/1972
Eastern Air Lines  Everglades, Florida The crew of the L-1011was preoccupied with a nose gear problem and the co-pilot was trying to replace the landing gear indicator light, while on autopilot and in a holding pattern. As the captain got up to help, he inadvertently pushed on the yoke releasing the autopilot. With no ground reference and under nighttime conditions, the aircraft gradually descended until it crashed into Everglades, 18.7 miles west-northwest of Miami. The accident was caused by the failure of the crew to monitor the flight instruments during the final 4 minutes of flight and to detect a descent soon enough to prevent impact with the ground. After spare parts from the crashed L-1011 were used on other planes, apparitions of the dead captain, Bob Loft and the FE Don Repo, began to be reported by Eastern Air Line employees on the planes using the spare parts. The book and movie "Ghost of Flight 401" is based on this accident.
11/3/1973 National Airlines
DC10-10
Albuquerque, New Mexico Out of boredom, the captain and flight engineer decided to experiment and see what would happen to the autothrottle system if the circuit breakers which supplied power to the instruments which measured the rotational speed of each engine's low pressure compressor were tripped. This led to engine overspeeding and destruction of the engine. Pieces struck the fuselage, breaking a window, causing rapid explosive decompression and a passenger was sucked out of the plane. The plane landed safely.
09/10/1976
Intex Adria Av.
British Airways
DC-9 / Trident 3B
 Gaj, Hrvatska, Yugoslavia After a midair collision caused by an  ATC error, killed total of 176 people, the entire shift of controllers were arrested. One was found guilty of criminal negligence and sentenced to 7 years in jail but release after a little over 2 years.
11/29/1976 Grand Canyon Air
Piper 32-300
Grand Canyon, Arizona An unrestrained German Shepard interfered with flight controls and caused the plane to crash.
05/16/1977 New York Helicopter
Sikorsky S61
New York, NY While passengers were loading aboard the helicopter on top of the Pan Am building, the landing gear collapsed causing the helicopter to tip on its side. Four people, waiting to board the craft were killed by the rotating blades. One of the blades tore loose and struck a window breaking in two. One-half of the blade then sailed two blocks striking and killing a pedestrian.
12/23/1980 Saudi Arabian Airlines
Lockheed L-1011
Qatar, Qatar Two passengers were sucked out of the plane after a tire exploded in the wheel well causing damage to the fuselage.
02/09/1982 Japan Air Lines
DC-8-61
Tokyo, Japan The aircraft flew into shallow water after a struggle with a mentally ill pilot. During the approach, the captain, known to have  mental problems, put the inboard engines into reverse in an attempt to destroy the aircraft while the co-pilot and flight engineer battled to restrain him. Twenty-four of 174 aboard were killed.
05/25/1982 VASP
B737-200
Braslila, Brazil The aircraft broke in two after a hard landing killing 2 people. The pilot's misuse of rain repellant, caused an optical illusion leading to the hard landing. 
06/24/1982 British Airways Mount Galunggung,
Indonesia
The aircraft flew into a plume from a volcanic eruption at 37,000 feet during the night.  While over the Pacific Ocean, all engines failed and the windshield lost transparency because of pitting from the volcanic ash. The first engine was restarted at 12,000 feet, followed by the other three and the plane landed safely at Jakarta.
07/23/1982 Western Helicopter
Bell UH-1 Huey
Castaic, California During the filming of "Twilight Zone, The Movie," a helicopter crashed, killing actor Vic Morrow, 57, and two child actors. The helicopter was hovering low over a make-believe Vietnamese village when an explosive charge from the special effects hit the tail rotor of the helicopter sending it crashing to the ground. One child, Rene Chen, was crushed to death with the right skid. Vic Morrow and the other child, Myca Dinh Le, were decapitated. Criminal charges against the production company were eventually dismissed in a much publicized trial. The civil trail ended in awards of 2 million dollars to the families of each of the children and $700,000 to the estate of Vic Morrow.
12/24/1982 CAAC
Illyshin IL-18
Guangzhou, China A passenger's cigarette caused a fire in the cabin which led to an oxygen tank exploding. The plane crashed killing 25 of 69 aboard.
07/23/1983 Air Canada
B-767
Gimli, Manitoba, Canada The aircraft took off from Ottawa bound for Edmonton with less than half the fuel required to make the trip. A computer known as the "Fuel Quantity Information System Processor" was not working properly so the ground crew made manual calculations for the amount of needed fuel. However, they used pounds/liter for the specific gravity factor instead of kilograms/liter. This was first model of aircraft of Air Canada to use kilograms. The aircraft ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet. With only standby instruments (magnetic compass, artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and altimeter) and no slats or flaps, the plane landed safely on a 7,200 ft. runway at Gimli, a former Air Force base converted into a racing drag strip. The plane became known as the "Gimli Glider." The TV movie Falling from the Sky: Flight 174 was made about this incident in 1995.
10/28/1983 Pennsylvania Airlines
Shorts 330-200
Middletown, Pennsylvania A passenger committed suicide by opening the right rear door and jumping out at 3,500 ft.
10/11/1984 Aeroflot
Tupolev TU-154B
Omsk, Russia The flying control officer (ATC) fell asleep and did not inform the controllers cleaning vehicles were on the runway. While attempting to land the aircaft hit the cleaning vehicles killing 174 of 179 aboard.
04/16/1985 American Airlines
B-727
Las Cruces, New Mexico While cruising at FL 350 a loud noise was heard followed by a severe jolt. The No. 3 engine separated from the aircraft. A damaged O ring allowed leakage from the forward lavatory waste drain valve. Four gallons of fluid leaked and froze on the exterior of the plane and then broke away in chunks and smashed into the engine. The plane landed safely
08/15/1985 Alyemda Airlines
B-707
Aden, Yemen As the plane reached FL230, water was spilled on the autopilot panel and the crew had to disengage the autopilot because the stabilizer trim wheel started to rotate. Control was lost as the plane pitched up and down. Control was regained at 1,000 ft. and an emergency landing was carried out. Three of the 73 passengers aboard were killed.
12/07/1987 Pacific Southwest
Airlines
BAe-146-200a
San Luis Obispo, Calif. A fired USAir employee, David Burke, after leaving a goodbye message to friends, shot both pilots. The aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed killing all 43 people aboard.
01/08/1989
British Midland 
Airways
B-737-4Y0
Leicestershire, England While en route, a fan blade on the No. 1 engine detached and caused a compressor stall and vibration of the aircraft. The crew throttled back the No. 2 engine and the vibration stopped and the No. 2 engine was shut down. While attempting to land, power was lost in the No. 1 engine, the aircraft stalled and crashed a few hundred meters short of the runway. The plane then slid across the M1 motorway missing many cars and embedded itself on the west embankment of the motorway. Forty-seven of the 126 aboard were killed. The crew mistakenly shut down the wrong engine.
02/24/1989 United Air Lines
B-747-122
Honolulu, Hawaii After leaving Honolulu, on a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, an electrical short caused the forward lower lobe cargo door to suddenly open resulting in explosive decompression and loss of power in the No. 3 and 4 engines. Nine passengers were sucked out of the plane and lost at sea but the plane landed safely.
06/10/1990 British Airways
BAC-111
Oxfordshire, England On a flight from Birmingham, England to Malaga, Spain, at FL 173, a large section of windshield fell away from the aircraft. The decompression pulled the captain out from under his seatbelt. Despite trying to hold onto the yoke, the captain was sucked out into the opening. A steward in the cockpit was able to grab hold of his legs. Another steward was able to strap himself into the vacant seat and aid in holding onto the captain's legs. The copilot wearing full restraints made an emergency landing at Southampton. The captain remained half way out of the aircraft for 15 minutes and suffered only frostbite and some fractures. Improper bolts used to replace the windshield two days earlier resulted in the accident. 
03/23/1994
Aeroflot
Airbus A310-304 
Mezhduretshensk, Russia The aircraft crashed after a captain allowed his child to manipulate the controls of the plane. The pilot's 11 year old daughter and 16 year old son were taking turns in the pilot's seat. While the boy was flying, he inadvertently disengaged the autopilot linkage to the ailerons and put the airliner in a bank of 90 degrees which caused the nose to drop sharply. The co-pilot pulled back on the yoke to obtain level flight but the plane stalled. With his seat pulled all the way back, the co-pilot in the right hand seat could not properly control the aircraft. After several stalls and rapid pull-ups the plane went into a spiral descent. In the end, the co-pilot initiated a 4.8g pull-up and nearly regained a stable flight path but the aircraft struck the ground in an almost level attitude killing all 75 aboard.
05/11/1996 ValuJet
DC-9
Everglades, Miami, Florida An uncontrollable in-flight fire was caused by activation of one or more oxygen generators in the forward cargo hold. The generators were outdated, improperly labeled, lacked safety caps and were prohibited from being transported on a passenger flight. The plane cashed killing all 110 people aboard.
10/02/1996 Aeroperu
B-757-200
Pasamayo, Peru The aircraft crashed into the ocean 28 minutes after taking off from Lima, Peru. Pieces of duct tape were found covering sensors, placed there by personnel during aircraft maintenance causing the malfunction of instruments. The crew was not able to correctly determine their altitude and airspeed and with no ground reference over water and at night, crashed into the ocean killing all 70 aboard. A maintenance worker was tried and convicted of negligent homicide for failing to remove the adhesive tape and received 2 years in jail.
11/23/1996 Ethiopian Airlines
B-767
Off Moroni, Comoros The aircraft was hijacked shortly after taking off from Ethiopia by three drunken escaped prisoners. They demanded to be flown to Australia, but wouldn't let the pilot stop to refuel. The plane eventually ran out of fuel and ditched 500 feet offshore killing 127 of 157 aboard.
04/15/1997 Azerbaijan Airlines
Yakovlev 40
Gyandzha, Azerbaijan A stray bullet from training soldiers struck the landing plane, hitting an oxygen cylinder. A fire broke out and control of the plane was lost and it crashed.
07/23/1999 All Nippon Airways
B-747
Tokyo, Japan Two minutes after taking off a man carrying a knife forced a flight attendant to take him in the cockpit of the plane. A fan of computer flight-simulation games, he stated he just wanted to fly a real plane. After forcing the co-pilot out of the cockpit he ordered the captain to fly to a U.S. Air Force base in western Tokyo. When he refused, he stabbed the captain and seized the controls. After a sudden drop in altitude, the co-pilot and an off duty crew member entered the cockpit and overpowered the hijacker. A one point the plane plunged to within 984 feet of the ground. The plane ultimately landed safely but the captain died of his injuries.
05/25/2000 Philippine Air Lines
Airbus A-330Near
Near Manila, Philippines A hijacker robbed passengers, jumped out of the plane with a homemade parachute and was killed in the jump.
08/24/2001 Air Transat
Airbus A-330
Terceira, Azores The Airbus 330, without engine power, glided for almost 20 minutes, descending from for more than 30,000 ft. before landing safely at Lajes Airport. Several tires blew out causing a fire which was quickly extinguished by emergency crews. The leak was caused by a damaged fuel feed pipe that was caused by interference from the aft hydraulic pump which was improperly installed. No one was seriously injured.
08/27/2006 Comair
Canadair CRJ-200ER
Lexington, Kentucky The plane took off from the wrong runway that was too short. The aircraft ran off the end of the runway and crashed killing 49 of the 50 aboard.
08/25/2010 Filair Bandundu, Congo Democratic Republic A passenger brought aboard a crocodile hidden in a sports bag. The crocodile escaped, causing a panic among passengers who all rushed to one end of the plane. This caused an imbalance in the aircraft which led to loss of control and a crash.


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