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Major Aviation Accidents of the Super70s

By Patrick Mondout

The Super70s saw some of the most notorious aviation accidents of all time. This includes the Eastern TriStar that was flown into the Everglades because of the crew's obsession with a 20 cent light! It also includes the PSA 727 which crashed into a residential area in San Diego after it collided with a Cessna it had been warned about. You can also read about the crew that was warned three times not to land on runway 23L. Guess which runway they landed on?

There was also the bizarre story of a stewardess surviving a crash from 33,000 feet. There is the story of a teenage sole-survivor of a crash in the Amazon wading through water for over a week before being rescued and perhaps the most notorious of all was the crashing of the plane carrying the Uruguayan rugby team in the Andes which led to cannibalism, a best-selling book, and a pair of movies.

This was not the only time a planeload of athletes crashed. There was the Marshall football team in 1970, the Wichita State football team also in 1970, and the Evansville basketball team in 1977.

The introduction of the jumbo jets was going to lead to higher death counts, but no one was prepared for two 747s colliding in the worst aviation accident of all time.

We have listed some of the more well-known disasters here. This list is by no means comprehensive. Thousands of aircraft are involved in fatal accidents around the world each decade. (Air safety figures from the FAA for the years 1975-1996 are also available.)

Note: = We have more detailed reports for those with a note. To see the report, click on the linked date in the first column (other links are for the type of aircraft and airline and will not take you to an accident report).

Date Location Aircraft/Airline Deaths Cause/Notes
February 6, 1970 Uzbekistan Il-18/Aeroflot 92 Crashed into mountain
February 15, 1970 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic DC-9/Dominicana 102 Crashed on takeoff/lost engine power (featherweight champion Carlos Cruz and the Puerto Rican women's volleyball team died)
Accident report availableFebruary 21, 1970  Switzerland CV-990/Swissair 47 Terrorist bomb
May 2, 1970 Near St. Croix, Virgin Islands DC-9/Dutch Antillian Airlines 23 Ditched into ocean after running out of fuel
July 3, 1970 Montseny Mountains, Spain DH-106 Comet/Dan Air 112 Crashed into mountain/ATC error
July 5, 1970 Toronto, Canada DC-8/Air Canada 109 Crashed on landing
July 19, 1970 Philadelphia, PA 737/United 0 Crashed shortly after takeoff
August 9, 1970 near Cuzco, Peru Lockheed 188A Electra/Lansa 99 Crashed on takeoff after #3 engine failed
October 2, 1970 near Silver Plume, Colorado Martin 404/Golden Eagle Aviation 32 Crashed into mountain (members of the Wichita State football team died)
November 14, 1970 Huntington, West Virginia DC-9/Southern 75 Crashed into hill on landing (members of the Marshall University football team died)
November 27, 1970 Anchorage, Alaska DC-8/Capitol 47 Crashed on takeoff
January 18, 1971 Zurich, Switzerland IL-18/Balkan 35 Crashed in heavy fog
May 23, 1971 Belgrade, Yugoslavia TU-134/Aviogenex 78 Crashed on landing
May 28, 1971 Roanoke, Virginia Aero Commander 680 ? Crashed into mountains during thunderstorm. (actor Audie Murphy died.)
June 6, 1971 Near Duarte, California DC-9/Hughes 49 Mid-air collision with Navy jet
July 3, 1971 Hokkaido, Japan YS-11/TOA 68 Crashed into mountain
July 24, 1971 Aspen, Colorado Cessna U206 4 Crashed into mountain during storm (Lance Reventow, Woolworth heir and Formula One race car driver died)
July 30, 1971 Morika, Japan 727/All Nippon Airways 162 Collided with Air Force jet. Worst aviation death toll at time.
August 11, 1971 Irkutsk Airport TU-104/Aeroflot 100 Exploded on takeoff
September 4, 1971 Juneau, Alaska 727/Alaska 111 Crashed on approach
September 6, 1971 Near Hasloh, West Germany BAC 1-11/Pan International 22 Crashed shortly after takeoff
September 16, 1971 Ukraine Tu-134/Aeroflot 49 Crashed on approach
October 2, 1971 near Ghent, Belgium Vickers Vanguard/BEA 63 Structural failure
December 24, 1971 Puerto Inca, Peru Lockheed 188A Electra/LANSA 91 Structural failure in bad weather (one survivor)
January 7, 1972 Valencia, Spain Caravelle/Spanish Iberia 104 Crashed into mountain on approach
January 26, 1972 Srbska-Kamenice, Czechoslovakia DC-9/Yugoslav Airlines 27 Bomb exploded at 33,000 feet
March 14, 1972 near Kalba, United Arab Emirates Caravelle/Danish Sterling Airways 112 Crashed on landing during heavy rain
March 19, 1972 near Aden, S. Yemon DC-9/Egypt Air 30 Crashed into Shamsan Mountain
April 18, 1972 Addis Abada, Ethiopia VC-10/East African Airways 41 Hit a farmhouse on takeoff
May 5, 1972 nearPalermo, Sicily DC-8/Alitalia 115 Crashed into mountain on approach
May 30, 1972 Fort Worth, Texas DC-9/Delta 4 Crashed on landing
June 14, 1972 Near Delhi, India DC-8/JAL 82 Controlled descent into terrain during approach
June 15, 1972 Pleiku, South Vietnam Convair 880/Cathay Pacific 81 Bomb exploded at high altitude
June 18, 1972 London's Heathrow Airport Trident-1/BEA 118 Stalled during takeoff
July 29, 1972 Los Palamos, Columbia Douglas DC-3/Colombia Avianca 37 Mid-air collision between DC-3s
August 14, 1972 East Germany Ilyushin 62/Interflug 156 Crashed moments after takeoff.
September 24, 1972 Sacramento, California F-86 Saberjet 22 Crashed into ice cream parlor on takeoff at airshow. Pilot escaped
October 2, 1972 Sochia, Russia Il-18/Aeroflot 100 Crashed.
October 13, 1972 Krasnaya, USSR Ilyushin 62/Aeroflot 174 Crashed in bad weather during landing. Worst aviation death toll at time.
October 13, 1972 Andes Mountains in Argentina F-227/Uruguayan Air Force 29 Crashed into mountain; lost over Andes
October 21, 1972 Athens, Greece YS-11/Olympic Airways 37 Undershot runway in heavy rain and plunged into sea. 16 rescued.
December 3, 1972 Tenerife, Canary Islands CV-990/Spantax Airlines 155 Crashed during takeoff in bad weather
December 8, 1972 Chicago, Illinois 737/United 45 Descent into terrain during landing.
December 29, 1972 Florida Everglades L-1011/Eastern 101 Controlled descent into terrain during approach.
January 22, 1973 Kano, Nigeria 707/Royal Jordanian (Chartered by Nigerian Airways) 176 Landing gear failure during landing and resulting fire. Worst aviation death toll at time.
February 21, 1973 Sinai Desert (Egypt) 727/Libyan Arab Airlines 106 Shot down by Israeli fighters
March 5, 1973 Nantes, France DC-9/Iberia 68 Mid-air collision with Spantax CV-990 (the Convair landed safely)
April 10, 1973 near Basle-Mulhouse, Switzerland Vanguard 952/Invicta 108 Instrument misreading; disorientation.
May 18, 1973 Siberia Tu-104A/Aeroflot 81 Hijacker demanded flight to China; bomb exploded at 30,000 ft.
July 11, 1973 Near Orly (Paris) 707/Varig 123 Toilet fire & smoke led to attempted landing 3 miles short of runway. 10 of 11 survivors were crewmembers.
July 22, 1973 just off Tahiti 707/Pan Am 78 Crashed into sea after takeoff. One survivor
July 23, 1973 near St. Louis FH-227/Ozark 39 Crashed
July 31, 1973 Boston (Logan) DC-9/Delta 89 Confused pilots descended into ocean during approach
November 3, 1973 Boston (Logan) 707/Pan Am 3 Crashed due to heavy smoke in cockpit (from improperly packed acid)
November 3, 1973 Over New Mexico DC-10/National 1 Curious crew overspeeds engine which fails.
December 22, 1973 Mt. Mellaline, Morroco Caravelle/Royal Air Maroc 106 Pilot navigation error; crashed into mountain.
January 30, 1974 Boston (Pago) 707/Pan Am 97 Descended too rapidly during approach; crashed
March 3, 1974 near Paris (Orly) DC-10/Turkish Air 346 Cargo door failure; loss of control. Worst aviation death toll at time.
April 22, 1974 Denpasar Bali, Indonesia 707/Pan Am 107 Premature turn into mountain during approach
September 8, 1974 Ionian Sea, 58 miles west of Greece 707/TWA 88 Terrorist bomb rendered plane uncontrollable.
September 11, 1974 near Charlotte DC-9/Eastern 72 Descended too quickly during approach; struck trees & crashed.
September 15, 1974 Phan Rang, Vietnam 727/Air Vietnam 75 Hijacked; overshot runway and crashed on attempted landing.
November 20, 1974 Nairobi, Kenya 747/Lufthansa 59 Leading edge flaps retracted during takeoff; crashed
December 1, 1974 Berryville, Virginia 727/TWA 92 Unaware of height of surrounding terrain, crashed into hill
December 4, 1974 Sri Lanka DC-8/MartinAir Holland 191 Unaware of height of surrounding terrain, crashed into mountain.
April 4, 1975 Near Saigon, South Vietnam Lockheed C-5A/US Air Force 150+ Rear hatch failed. Plane carrying mostly orphaned children.
June 24, 1975 New York (JFK) 727/Eastern 113 Struck light towers short of runway in lightning storm; wind shear.
August 3, 1975 near Imzizen, Morocco 707/Air Morocco 188 Crashed into fog-covered mountain.
August 7, 1975 Denver (Stapleton) 727/Continental 0 Severe wind sheer on takeoff
August 19, 1975 near Damascus, Syria Ilyushin 62/Czechoslovakia 126 Crashed into hill during approach; 2 survivors
November 12, 1975 Raleigh, North Carolina 727/Eastern 0 Failure to execute a missed approach; undershot runway, bounced & skid
November 12, 1975 New York (JFK) DC-10/Overseas National 0 Bird intake to engines at takeoff
December 16, 1975 Anchorage, Alaska 747/JAL 0 Skidded off runway during taxi for takeoff
January 1, 1976 Northeastern Saudi Arabia 707/Middle East Airlines 82 Terrorist bomb
April 27, 1976 St Thomas, Virgin Islands 727/American 37 Overran runway on landing
June 4, 1976 Guam Lockheed 188 Electra/Air Manila 46 Plane hit truck during takeoff
September 10, 1976 Zagreb, Yugoslavia Trident/British Airways -
DC-9/Inex Adria
176 Mid air collision; ATC did not maintain separation
October 12, 1976 Bombay Caravelle/Indian Airlines 95 Engine failure at takeoff; failure to stop fuel flow to engine resulted in damage to hydraulics
December 25, 1976 Bangkok, Thailand 707/Egypt Air 52 Crashed into factory on approach
March 27, 1977 Tenerife, Canary Islands 747/KLM
747/Pan Am
335 +
248 = 583
KLM pilot took off before the PanAm had cleared the runway and collided. World's worst aviation death toll to date.
April 4, 1977 New Hope, Georgia DC-9/Southern 70 Lost both engines during a thunderstorm; landing on highway failed
September 27, 1977 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia DC-8/JAL 34 Hit hill 3 miles short of runway
November 19, 1977 Funchal, Portugal 727/Air Portugal 131 Landed long, overran runway, burst into flames
December 4, 1977 near Kampung Ladang, Malaysia 737/Malaysian 100 Hijacked. Fuel exhaustion due to length to new destination
December 13, 1977 Evansville, Indiana Douglas DC-3/NJS 29 Crashed on takeoff.
January 1, 1978 near Bandra, Arabian Sea 747/Air India 213 Rolled beyond 90 degrees after a turn and lost control due to faulty instrument reading
February 2, 1978 Cranbrook, Canada 737/Pacific West 42 Evasive actions to miss snow plow on runway result in crash
April 20, 1978 Kola Peninsula, USSR 707/KAL 2 Shot down by Soviets.
May 8, 1978 near Pensacola, Florida 727/National 3 High descent rate; struck water 3 miles short of runway
September 25, 1978 San Diego, California 727/PSA 144 Mid-air collision with Cessna
November 15, 1978 Colombo- Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka DC-8/Loftleidir 183 Crashed about 1 mile from airport
December 23, 1978 near Palermo, Italy DC-9/Alitalia 108 Crashed into sea on approach
December 28, 1978 near Portland, Oregon DC-8/United 10 Ran out of fuel while trying to determine cause of landing gear problem
May 25, 1979 Chicago (O'Hare) DC-10/American 273 Crashed on takeoff after engine fell off. Worst U.S. aviation death toll at time.
August 11, 1979 Near Donetsk in the Ukraine TU-134A/Aeroflot (both) 84/94=178 Midair collision of two Aeroflot jets; ATC error
October 31, 1979 Mexico City (Benito Juarez) DC-10/Western 73 Missed proper runway and hit construction vehicle on landing
November 26, 1979 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 707/Pakistan (PIA) 156 On board fire at 33,000 feet; descended through 30,000 then crashed
November 28, 1979 Mt Erebus, Antarctica DC-10/Air New Zealand 257 Crashed into mountain while off-course
Date Location Aircraft/Airline Fatalities Reason/Notes

Sources: NTSB and books below.

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.

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