Everybody loves to ride an airplane. Well, who doesn’t really? You get to enjoy the view, and it’s the closest thing to flying. But no matter how breathtaking the experience can be, the reality is that accidents can happen anytime and plenty of people have already died in an airplane crash.
Ever since its conception in 1903 (thanks to the Wright brothers), humanity has learned to touch the sky. Unfortunately, a great number of incidents and accidents have also been recorded ever since.
In today’s list, we’ve compiled some of the scariest events in plane crash history. They’re so terrifying that they’re worth remembering.
#10. The Brocklesby Midair Collision
In September of 1940, two airplanes from the Royal Australian Air Force Avro Anson collided midair during a training exercise. It happened above Brocklesby, New South Wales, Australia, hence the name. Luckily, both the pilot and the reconnaissance officer of the lower plane had enough time to save themselves from apparent death. The reconnaissance officer of the upper plane was also able to bail out.
However, the pilot of the upper plane named Leonard Fuller was stuck. To prevent a sudden crash, he steered the aircraft in a way that it wouldn’t enter a steep dive – let alone a crash. But his move resulted to the two airplanes getting locked with each other. He found out that to control the other plane, he would just need to steer his aircraft’s lower engines. He flew both of planes around 8 kilometers before finally landing in Brocklesby.
#9. British Airways Flight 5390
British Airways Flight 5390 flew from Birmingham, England to Malaga, Spain in June 1990. But later on, the cockpit’s windshield blew out. The plane was on altitude of more or less 5,200 meters. Due to the sudden pressure loss, Captain Timothy Lancaster was sucked out of his seat belt. Fortunately, flight attendant Nigel Ogden was there to grab him by the waist.
Lancaster’s legs, though, hit the control buttons and disabled the autopilot mode. This eventually led to a sudden dive. Although the other pilot managed to recover from the plane from diving, Lancaster’s legs were still stuck. As a result, his head kept on banging the side of the cockpit. The attendants thought he was dead. Heck, someone even suggested to let him go just so they can all be saved. Fortunately, Ogden didn’t and told one of the crew to hold his hands.
#8. Philippine Airlines Flight 812
The aircraft flew on May 2000 with a passenger count of 278 along with 13 crew. It came from Davao City with a goal of landing in Manila. Apparently, Philippine Airlines Flight 812 was hijacked by a man named Augusto Lakandula who was armed with weapons. He also had a grenade on him. He ordered the pilots to return the flight to Davao. Later on, they informed Lakandula that they were running out of fuel. His request? Well, it was to have the plane fly on a lower altitude, as he planned to jump out.
Prior to that, he robbed the passengers of their money. He even asked one of the crew to teach him how to use a parachute. As soon as the cabin door opened, one of the attendants pushed him out. Lakandula didn’t survive.
#7. Israeli Air Force F-15 and A-4 Midair Collision
Sometime in 1933, the Israeli Air Force executed some mock aerial combat exercises over the Negev desert. But during the drill, an F-15 Eagle collided with an A-4 Skyhawk midair. It was then followed by a huge explosion, though the pilot of the Skyhawk ejected. The F-15, on the other hand, went spiraling down. The trainee pilot named Zivi Nedivi didn’t listen to his commanding officers and ignored the order to eject. Instead, he tried to take control of the aircraft.
Interestingly, Nedivi was successful in landing the plane in a nearby air base. Many thought he was going to die, as the damage on the aircraft proved to be fatal. Even one of the makers of F-15s, McDonnell Douglas, was in pure disbelief. He said that what Nedivi did was impossible, as the aircraft only had one wing.
#6. Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870
Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870, which was flying from Bologna to Palermo, crashed in the sea near Ustica Island in June 1980. It was deemed mysterious, but it killed all 77 passengers aboard including four crew members. It later earned the nickname “Ustica Massacre.” The authorities pointed out that the cause could’ve either been engine failure or act of terrorism. In 1989, though, it was later found out that a missile shot down the airplane.
Speculations suggested that the aircraft got caught by the aerial fight between the Libyan and NATO planes. The Italian government were also accused of covering up the truth behind the crash. This was most especially after five Italian Air Force officials – all of whom were linked to the unfortunate event – died under strange circumstances.
#5. British Airways Flight 009
During its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Perth in June 1992, British Airways Flight 009 lost all four of its engines. It was still cruising the skies of Java, Indonesia when the mechanical problem occurred. According to Listverse, Captain Eric Moody noticed a smoke rising from the very floor of the aircraft. This was prior to the engine failure. It was then followed by an odd smell and a peculiar glow called St. Elmo’s fire which refers to the presence of a static electricity. This was found just near the windshield of the plane.
It was discovered that the engines were damaged by the volcanic ash from Mount Galunggung’s eruption. Fortunately, the pilots were able to restart the engines soon after the ash became solid. They were then able to break it, allowing the engines to start again.
#4. Uberlingen Midair Collision
In 2002, the Russian Bashikirian Airlines Tupolev carried 154 passengers and 69 crew. There were also 45 students onboard. It was bound for Spain, but it collided with a DHL Boeing 757 cargo plane. It happened just above the village of Uberlingen, Germany. The collision was due to a misunderstanding between instructions, which were provided by the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). The said system was being monitored by both the Tupolev 154 and the Swiss air traffic controller.
The collision was so vicious that it led to the death of 69 people in the Tupolev. The DHL cargo plane, on the other hand, only had two casualties. The incident was blamed on the Swiss air traffic control, as they turned off the collision avoidance system. A famous Russian Architect by the name of Vitaly Kaloyev lost his wife due to the collision.
#3. Helios Airways Flight 522
Helios Airways Flight 522 was on a trip from Cyprus to Prague in August 2005. However, it crashed in Greece and killed all of its 121 passengers and crew members. Investigations said that prior to the crash, all of them were unconscious. It was found out that one of the technicians who serviced the plane before takeoff forgot to change a certain key setting. It had something to do with the aircraft’s air conditioning system.
As a result, the oxygen level went down, resulting to mass unconsciousness. The cabin crew tried to contact the pilots, but were unable to do so as the cockpit was locked using bulletproof doors. As soon as the pilots lost consciousness, the aircraft went on autopilot for two hours before the crash.
#2. US Navy KA-6D Partial Ejection
The tanker version of Grumman A-6 jet known as US Navy KA-6D took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln to refuel midair on July 1991. Aboard were Lieutenants Keith Gallagher and Mark Baden, the navigator and the bombardier, respectively. After a few minutes, Gallagher got ejected from his seat. But instead of flying into the air, he got stuck between the aircraft’s glass canopy and cabin. His upper body had broken through the canopy, while the other half remained inside. And since his helmet was removed, he had difficulty breathing due to the heavy winds.
He tried for an ejection the second time around, but it was still unsuccessful. Fortunately, Lieutenant Baden was able to land the jet after six minutes of what appeared to be a nerve wrecking experience. It turned out that Gallagher’s parachute coiled around the plane’s tail fin, preventing him from fully ejecting.
#1. EgyptAir Flight 990
The plane was flying from New York to Cairo in October 1999 when it suddenly broke up. The incident happened when it was still in the US airspace territory. It killed all of its 217 passengers and crew members. The US government claimed that the problem was due to a stress in the aircraft’s engine. It appeared that one of the pilots named Gamil el-Batouty wanted to commit suicide by steering the plane into a dive. However, Captain Ahmed el-Habashi wrestled with the controls from el-Batouty. He was successful in returning the plane to a normal altitude, but the conflict did damage to the aircraft’s engine system.
However, Egypt denounced the suicide angle of the crash and claimed that it was due to an explosion caused by a timed bomb. The latter was reportedly courtesy of Israeli’s infamous Mossad. The supposed targets of the bombs were the 34 generals and 20 pilots, all of which were from the Egyptian Armed Forces. They were supposed to go home after three years of training.
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