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What Happened Onboard National Airlines Flight 193? — #TBT Week of May 3

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 May 3.


May 3, 1976

Upon landing at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), a Pan Am Boeing 747SP-21 completed a record-breaking around-the-world trip, finishing the journey in 46 hours and one second. The aircraft — named Clipper Liberty Bell — departed JFK on May 1, stopping over in New Delhi and Tokyo before returning to the U.S.

Runway-to-runway, Clipper Liberty Bell flew a total distance of 23,137 miles at an average airspeed of 502.838 miles per hour.

May 4, 2004

After receiving unanimous approval one year prior, US Airways officially became the newest member of Star Alliance. The 16 airlines within Star Alliance at the time, including charter member United Airlines, praised the move as a way to strengthen the alliance’s presence on the East Coast with US Airways adding an additional $75 million in revenue.

A decade later, US Airways left Star Alliance for oneworld following its merger with American Airlines. 

May 5, 1993

Operating a fleet of four Boeing 737-300 aircraft, Jet Airways began service out of Mumbai International Airport (BOM). Today, Jet Airways serves 69 destinations with a fleet of 116 aircraft, making it the second largest airline in India.

Although Jet Airways was rumored to join Star Alliance at one point, the airline became a charter member of Etihad Airways Partners in 2014. 

May 6, 1937

One of the worst aviation disasters in history, the Hindenburg exploded while trying to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst. As a result of the accident, 36 people were killed, including 13 passengers, 22 crew members and one ground crew member.

The dramatic crash was captured by at least three newsreel teams, which immediately distributed the film around the world. The story of the crash may possibly best told through Herbert Morrison’s emotional radio account where he cried out: “Oh, the humanity!” 

May 7, 1964

Declared a mass murder-suicide, Pacific Air Lines Flight 773 crashed short of its final destination at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The flight, operated on a Fairchild F-27A Friendship, departed from Reno with a scheduled stop in Stockton. Prior to landing at SFO, the gunman raided the cockpit, shooting and killing the captain and co-pilot before taking his own life.

Researches speculate if an FAA-approved mandate to keep cockpit door locked during flight had gone into effect prior to the effective date of August 6, 1964 the accident may have been prevented. 

May 8, 1978

After making three stopovers en route to Pensacola Regional Airport (PNS), National Airlines Flight 193 crashed into the Escambia Bay. Three people drowned during the evacuation; 55 passengers and crew survived.

Investigators found several problems with the handling of the incident, including a lack of communication between pilots and radar controller, as well as insufficient information on life vests available to passengers. 

May 9, 1967

After five years of development in cooperation with four different manufacturers, the Fokker F28 Fellowship celebrated the first flight of its aircraft. Similar in size and function to the Douglas DC-9, the original F28 had a capacity of 65 passengers and range of around 1,200 miles.

Although only 241 of the aircraft were built, it saw service with a number of airlines around the world, including Air Ontario, Garuda Indonesia, Piedmont Airlines (later US Air) and Turkish Airlines.  


[Photo: Bob O’Lary via Wikipedia]

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