Year
1978
Month Day
September 25

Mid-air collision kills 153

A Pacific Southwest Airlines jet collides in mid-air with a small Cessna over San Diego, killing 153 people on September 25, 1978. The wreckage of the planes fell into a populous neighborhood and did extensive damage on the ground.

David Lee Boswell and his instructor, Martin Kazy, were in the process of a flying lesson in a single-engine Cessna 172 on the morning of September 25, practicing approaches at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field airport. After two successful passes, Boswell aimed the Cessna toward the Montgomery Field airport northeast of San Diego.

At the same time, Pacific Southwest Flight 182 was approaching San Diego. The jet, a Boeing 727, was carrying 144 passengers and crew members from Sacramento, after a stopover in Los Angeles. Though air-traffic controllers at Lindbergh had told Boswell to keep the Cessna below 3,500 feet altitude as it flew northeast, the Cessna did not comply and changed course without informing the controllers.

The pilots of Flight 182 could see the Cessna clearly at 9 a.m., but soon lost sight of it and failed to inform the controllers. Meanwhile, the conflict-alert warning system began to flash at the air-traffic control center. However, because the alert system went off so frequently with false alarms, it was ignored. The controllers believed that the pilots of the 727 had the Cessna in view. Within a minute, the planes collided.

The fuel in the 727 burst into a massive fireball upon impact. A witness on the ground reported that she saw her “apples and oranges bake on the trees.” The planes nose-dived straight into San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, destroying 22 homes and killing seven people on the ground. All 144 people on the 727 were killed, as well as both of the Cessna’s pilots.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Bill of Rights passes Congress

The first Congress of the United States approves 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sends them to the states for ratification. The amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, ...read more

IRA officially disarms

Two months after announcing its intention to disarm, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) gives up its weapons in front of independent weapons inspectors. The decommissioning of the group s substantial arsenal took place in secret locations in the Republic of Ireland. One Protestant ...read more

Little Rock Nine begin first full day of classes

Under escort from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, nine Black students enter all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three weeks earlier, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus had surrounded the school with National Guard troops to prevent its federal ...read more

Fifty-nine-year-old Satchel Paige pitches three innings

On September 25, 1965, the Kansas City Athletics start ageless wonder Satchel Paige in a game against the Boston Red Sox. The 59-year-old Paige, a Negro League legend, proved his greatness once again by giving up only one hit in his three innings of play. Leroy Page was born on ...read more

Grover Cleveland pardons bigamists, adulterers, polygamists and unlawful cohabitants

On September 25, 1894, President Grover Cleveland issues a presidential proclamation pardoning followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) who had previously engaged in polygamous marriages or habitation arrangements considered unlawful by ...read more

Cattle pioneer Oliver Loving dies of gangrene

On September 25, 1867, the pioneering cattleman Oliver Loving dies from gangrene poisoning in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. A few weeks before, Loving had been trapped by 500 Commanche braves along the Pecos River. Shot in the arm and side, Loving managed to escape and reach Fort ...read more

This Day In History: The "Partridge Family" Premieres on ABC, 1970

“The Partridge Family” premieres on ABC

Unwilling to rest as a one-hit wonder when its first big hit, The Monkees, went off the air in 1968, the television production company Screen Gems wasted no time in trying to repeat its success. On September 25, 1970, in the 8:30 p.m. time slot immediately following The Brady ...read more

New York mobster Little Augie Pisano is murdered

Mob assassins shoot Anthony Carfano, known as Little Augie Pisano, to death in New York City on Meyer Lansky’s orders. Lansky, one of the few organized crime figures who managed to survive at the top for several decades, was estimated to have accumulated as much as $300,000,000 ...read more

Eisenhower and Khrushchev meet for talks

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev caps his trip to the United States with two days of meetings with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The two men came to general agreement on a number of issues, but a U-2 spy plane incident in May 1960 crushed any hopes for further improvement of ...read more

Ethan Allen is captured

After aborting a poorly planned and ill-timed attack on the British-controlled city of Montreal, Continental Army Colonel Ethan Allen is captured by the British on September 25, 1775. After being identified as an officer of the Continental Amy, Allen was taken prisoner and sent ...read more