This Day In History: August 12

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At 6:50 p.m. local time, a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747SR crashes into Mount Otsuka, 70 miles northwest of Tokyo. There were 524 people aboard, and all but four were dead by the time rescuers reached the remote crash site 12 hours later.

JAL flight 123 took off from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport under the command of Captain Takahama at 6:12 p.m. local time. Twelve minutes into the flight, as the jumbo jet was approaching its cruising altitude, an explosion shook the aircraft. A bulkhead had blown in the tail, creating over-pressurization that severed the four sets of hydraulic-control lines and blew part of the tail section off. With a total loss of hydraulic pressure, the captain radioed he was getting no response from his controls. For the next 27 minutes, Takahama attempted unsuccessfully to regain control of the aircraft as it descended uncontrollably in a flight condition known as the “Dutch roll.” At 6:50 p.m., JAL flight 123 crashed into Mount Otsuka at a point 4,780 feet above sea level.