June 24

This Day in History

Disaster

Jun 24, 1975:

Eastern Flight 66 crashes at J.F.K.

An Eastern Airlines jet crashes near John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, killing 115 people on this day in 1975. The Boeing 727 was brought down by wind shear, a sudden change in wind speed or direction.

On the afternoon of June 24, the New York area experienced severe thunderstorms with heavy winds and rain. Thunderstorms often cause microbursts, damaging downbursts of wind that can be immensely destructive and are particularly dangerous to air travel. Two different flights arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York, reported significant problems with winds as they brought their planes in on runway 22. Air-traffic controllers, however, ignored the warnings and kept the runway open.

Eastern Airlines Flight 66 from New Orleans was about a mile from the runway when it was lifted suddenly and violently by the wind, then was immediately pushed downward. The plane struck a row of lights that tore off the outer portion of the left wing. It proceeded to crash into more light poles and broke into pieces just above the ground.

Only seven passengers and two flight attendants survived the fiery crash, all with serious injuries. The remaining 109 passengers and six crew members lost their lives. Wind shear remains a serious threat to flying, but significant advances in identifying areas and times of concern have virtually eliminated deadly crashes caused by sudden winds.

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