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727 Overruns Runway in Virgin Islands; 37 Dead

By Patrick Mondout

At just after 3 p.m. on April 27, 1976, American Airlines Flight 625 overran the departure end of runway 9 after landing at the Virgin Islands. Of the 88 persons aboard the aircraft, 35 passengers and 2 flight attendants were killed. Thirty-eight other persons received injuries which ranged from minor to serious. One person on the ground was injured seriously.

The 727, which was landing at the Harry S. Truman Airport, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas after a flight from JFK Airport in New York, struck the instrument landing system localizer antenna, crashed through a chain link fence, and came to rest against a building located about 1,040 feet beyond the departure end of the runway. The aircraft was destroyed.

Boeing 727

An American Airlines 727 similar to the one involved in this crash, as seen in Miami.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of the accident was the captain's actions and his judgment in initiating a go-around maneuver with insufficient runway remaining after a long touchdown. The long touchdown is attributed to a deviation from prescribed landing techniques and an encounter with an adverse wind condition, common at the airport.

The non-availability of information about the aircraft's go-around performance capabilities was a factor in the captain's abortive attempt to go-around after a long landing.

Source: Adapted from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report NTSB-AAR-77-1.

American Airlines 625 at a Glance
AirlineAmerican Airlines
DateApril 27, 1976
Flight number625
Registration NumberN1963
Crew Fatalities2 of 7
Passenger Fatalities35 of 81
Total Fatalities37 of 88

Air Safety References:
Bartelski, Jan. Disasters in the Air: Mysterious Air Disasters Explained. Airlife Publishing: England, 2001.
Beaty, David. The Naked Pilot: The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents. Airlife Publishing: England, 1996.
Cushing, Steven. Fatal Words: Communication Clashes and Aircraft Crashes University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1997.
Faith, Nicholas. Black Box: The Air-Crash Detectives-Why Air Safety Is No Accident. Motorbooks International, 1997.
Gero, David. Aviation Disasters: The World's Major Civil Airliner Crashes Since 1950. Sutton, 2003.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 1). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1995.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 2). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1996.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 3). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1999.
Krause, Shari Stamford. Aircraft Safety: Accident Investigations, Analyses & Applications. McGraw Hill, New York, 1996.
Macpherson, Malcolm. The Black Box : All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents. New York: William Morrow, 1998.
Macpherson, Malcolm. On a Wing and a Prayer: Interviews with Airline Disaster Survivors. Perennial, 2002.
Owen, David. Air Accident Investigation, 2nd Edition. Motorbooks International, 2002.
Stewart, Stanley. Emergency! - Crisis on the Flight Deck, 2nd Edition. Airlife Publishing, England, 2003.
Walters, James M. Aircraft Accident Analysis: Final Reports. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000.
Wells, Alexander T. Commercial Aviation Safety, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001.


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about this crash? Were you a witness? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I was but a mere 6 years old, but I can remember the loud bang. My aunt and I were on our way to the uptown Carnival activities when my mother called us back for something that we had forgotten at home. We lived then next to Happy View the now Lindbergh Bay Superette.

About to depart again from home is when we heard the loud explosion, it was then that the plane had crashed into the nearby gas station. The was black smoke and dust everywhere. Our day ended there. For days following there were body parts (or what I think were body parts), and black churned, and burnt particles all over the streets."




Airline: American Airlines

Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Aircraft: Boeing 727-95

Date: April 27, 1976

Total Fatalities: 37 of 88

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