The worst air crash in
American aviation history happened on 25 May 1979 at Chicago airport.
American Airlines Flight 191 took off at 3 p.m. bound for Los Angeles,
but rolled over and crashed into the ground half
a mile from the end
of the runway. There was a huge explosion, and 273 people died. The
sad story is investigated on Monday at 9 p.m. on xxx.
What caused the crash? There
seems to have been a faulty maintenance procedure. The huge heavy
engines were fastened on to the wings with bolts, and because
something had been jacked up too hard the mountings of these bolts had
cracked. Just as the captain, Walter Lux, called for full power for
take-off, the left-hand engine ripped itself free of its mounting,
whirled forward at full thrust, and went up, over the wing, and fell
to the ground. As it went it ripped out all the hydraulic control
pipes in the leading edge of the left wing. So the captain suddenly
had no power from one engine, and no lift from one wing; indeed the
left wing stalled. The huge plane rolled over until the wings were
vertical and plunged into the ground.
One of the scariest things
about this episode was that it was apparently foreseen by a car
mechanic called David Booth. Ten days earlier, on 15 May, he woke from
a nightmare in which he saw an American Airlines jet flying low, but
not making enough noise. As he watched, it rolled over to the left and
plunged into the ground. There was a terrible ball of fire, and
everyone was killed.
He had the same nightmare
seven nights running.
He phoned American Airlines;
they advised him to see a psychiatrist. He phoned the Federal Aviation
Administration; Paul Williams took him seriously, and questioned him
for 25 minutes on 24 May, just in case there was the possibility of
preventing an accident. The next day Williams heard the news on his
car radio, and said it was like an action replay of what Boothhad said
the day before. I have interviewed both David Booth and Paul Williams,
and I have no doubt that Booth did indeed have this terrible dream,
but that he could not have been responsible for the crash. I don’t
believe it is possible to see the future, but I find this story hard
to explain away.