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Was American’s “Flagship” Name Cursed or Just Unlucky? — #TBT Week of July 26

In the spirit of #TBT (“Throwback Thursday,” not Brazil’s Tabatinga Airport) FlyerTalk takes a look back at the events that helped shape modern aviation. Here are just a few moments from history that changed the face of the industry during the week of July 26.


July 26, 1993

After two landing attempts at Mokpo Airport (MPK) in South Korea, Asiana Airlines Flight 733 crashed into Mount Ungeo. Of the 104 souls onboard the Boeing 737-500, 68 were lost in the accident.

This accident marked the first hull loss of a Boeing 737-500 and the 37th of the Boeing 737 family. At the time, it also represented the deadliest airplane crash in South Korea.

July 27, 1983

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer celebrated the first flight of its regional turboprop aircraft — the EMB 120 Brasilia. With a range of 945 nautical miles and a 30-passenger capacity, the small aircraft was immediately popular with regional airlines across the U.S.

The EMB-120 launched with Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Connection operator, two years later. The aircraft enjoyed 18 years of operation before serial productions ended in 2001.

July 28, 1943

American Airlines Flight 63, known as Flagship Ohio, crashed while flying between Louisville and Nashville. The pilots lost control of the Douglas DC-3 shortly after takeoff due to extreme turbulence and strong downdraft winds that caused the aircraft to clip a set of trees before crashing.

Of the 22 souls onboard, 20 were lost. Although the Flagship Ohio was replaced by another DC-3, Flagship Missouri, that aircraft also crashed three months later. 

July 29, 2002

Despite claiming to be the first airline to fly after the September 11 tragedy, low-cost carrier Vanguard Airlines ceased operations less than a year later. One day after the attacks, the airline went into bankruptcy protection, never to emerge.

Although Vanguard applied for loans from the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, its applications were rejected by the government for failing to provide “reasonable assurance that Vanguard would be able to repay the loan.” 

July 30, 1971

After being switched to a shorter runway at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Pan Am Flight 845 struck the approach lighting system during takeoff. Flying with broken landing gear, the Boeing 747-121 circled the Pacific Ocean, dumping fuel for over 90 minutes before it had reduced enough weight to make an emergency landing.

While there were no fatalities, 27 of the 199 passengers onboard were seriously injured while evacuating the aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board cited several contributing factors in its accident report, including pilot error and dispatcher irregularities. 

July 31, 1972

On the day before Delta Air Lines was to merge with Northeast Airlines, Delta Flight 841 was hijacked by members of the Black Liberation Army. The five hijackers allowed the passengers to disembark at Miami International Airport (MIA) in exchange for $1 million before demanding to be flown to Algeria.

Although Delta complied with all demands, the Douglas DC-8 and ransom were seized by Algerian authorities upon landing. Four of the five hijackers were arrested nearly four years later, while the fifth was finally apprehended in 2011.

August 1, 1983

After two years of preparation, America West Airlines celebrated its first commercial flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). The inaugural destinations served by the new airline included Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, Kansas City and Wichita.

Over 20 years later, the airline would merge with US Airways, dropping the America West name and livery in favor of the more national brand. The Phoenix-based airline ultimately grew in to American Airlines after completing a reverse merger with the legacy in 2013.


[Photo: Library of Congress]

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