May 20

This Day in History

Disaster

May 20, 1965:

Plane crashes at Cairo airport

A Pakistan Airways Boeing 707 arriving from Pakistan crashes upon landing at the airport in Cairo, Egypt, killing 124 people on this day in 1965. The accident came just as pilots were complaining about poor conditions at the Cairo airport.

In 1965, the International Pilots Association began to have its members refuse night landings at the Cairo airport due to its inadequate lighting and poor runway conditions. In addition, some of the airport's landing strips were sloped, which was not in accordance with standard practices, and pilots also believed that the airport staff was not prepared for an emergency.

The pressure from pilots forced the airport authorities to begin to upgrade their facilities; the Pakistan Airways crash came just as these improvements began to get underway. The plane was making a night landing and took an approach that was too steep, slamming into the ground short of the runway.

The year 1965 was a terrible one for air disasters: in addition to this crash, there were eight other crashes and accidents that killed more than 30 people each. Three of these accidents involved the Boeing 727 jet, the successor to the 707.

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This Week in History, May 20 - May 26

May 20, 1965
Plane crashes at Cairo airport
May 21, 1960
Huge earthquake hits Chile
May 22, 1967
Belgian department store burns
May 23, 1960
Tsunami hits Hawaii
May 24, 1964
Riot erupts at soccer match
May 25, 1979
DC-10 crashes, killing all aboard
May 26, 1991
Plane crashes in Thai jungle

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