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Western Airlines 2605

By Patrick Mondout

On October 31, 1979, a Western Airlines DC-10 landed on the wrong runway in heavy fog and crashed after hitting a vehicle. One person in the vehicle was killed in addition to 72 of the 88 people on the DC-10.

Despite the fog, the pilots had flown into Juarez Airport many times and had been told on three occasions prior to landing not to land on runway 23L and that they were left of center for 23R - the correct runway. They proceeded to land on 23L anyway. They soon learned why the runway was closed when they collided with a truck filled with 20,000 pounds of soil.

One passenger on this flight was an ABC reporter on his way to cover the situation in El Salvador. He had been a field producer for the network's coverage of the American Airlines DC-10 crash in May and had told friends he would never fly one again unless it was the only way to get there. Ironically this crash - which left him dead - was not the fault of the troubled McDonnell Douglas jumbo.

Western DC-10

A Western DC-10 similar to the one involved in this crash, as seen at LAX in February 1984.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


A photograph is this DC-10 is here.

Source: Grayson, David. Terror in the Skies. Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1988.

Western Airlines 2605 at a Glance
AirlineWestern Airlines
DateOctober 31, 1979
Flight number2605
Registration NumberN903WA
Crew Fatalities9 of 11
Passenger Fatalities63 of 77
Other Fatalities1 on ground
Total Fatalities72 of 88 + 1 on ground

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 there after the accident and I saw the only part of the plane safe was in the middle, and the passengers sitted in that part of the plane were the only who survived and nothing happende to them. There rest of the plane was completely dismanteled at all. Western Airlines used to have that flight overnight MEX-LAX-MEX daily, leaving at 11:30pm from Mexico City, and when returning back to Mexico City was the accident at 6:30am when tried to land, crashing over some buildings inside the Mexico City airport."

--Frank Perez

"My second daughter was born on that day. A nun at the hospital waked me and my wife up turning the TV on to see the news and to pray for the people on board. I clearly remember one of the few survivors was an american woman named Pandora Dickinson. The name was so compeling that I put on the room's door that same name as if it were my daughter's. A lady came in that afternoon to ask me to please don't name my daughter that way. "


"As the surviving flight attendant form this crash your information is wrong. He was not told three times not to land. He was told once eight seconds before touchdown. I know because I have the CVR Recording from the plane.
[Editor's note: The author of this feedback is also the author of a vanity-press conspiracy book which he is attempting to push here. It is intesting that he did not raise any of these concerns until more than 15 years had passed. My article will remain unchanged because it is factually correct and not the result of a vain attempt at 15 minutes of fame.]"




A Western DC-10 similar to one involved in Flight 2605.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

Airline: Western Airlines

Location: Mexico City

Aircraft: DC-10

Date: October 31, 1979

Total Fatalities: 72 of 88 + 1 on ground

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