Air Florida Flight 90

Coordinates: 38°52′26″N 77°02′34″W / 38.87389°N 77.04278°W / 38.87389; -77.04278
From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Air Florida Flight 90 was a scheduled U.S. domestic passenger flight from Washington National Airport to Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport. On January 13, 1982, the Boeing 737-200 registered as N62AF, crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River.

Air Florida Flight 90
An Air Florida Boeing 737-222 similar to the one involved
DateJanuary 13, 1982 (1982-01-13)
SummaryCrashed shortly after take off due to lack of de-icing and pilot error
SitePotomac River, Washington, D.C.
38°52′26″N 77°02′34″W / 38.87389°N 77.04278°W / 38.87389; -77.04278
Total fatalities78
Total injuries9
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-222
OperatorAir Florida
IATA flight No.QH90
ICAO flight No.FLA90
Call signPalm 90
Flight originWashington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport)
StopoverTampa International Airport[1]
DestinationFort Lauderdale–Hollywood Int'l Airport[2]
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities4
Ground injuries4

The aircraft had originally been purchased by United Airlines in 1969 and flown with the registration number of N9050U. It was sold to Air Florida in 1980.

While the 737 was still at the airport, it had been deiced at the gate and tried to push back with reverse thrust when the pushback tug became stuck without proper snow equipment. After pushback and taxi to the departure runway, Captain Larry Wheaton began to grow worried about ice accumulating on the wings as the plane waited in line for departure behind a New York Air DC-9.

Captain Wheaton then taxiied his plane into the exhaust of the DC-9 ahead of him, successfully temporarily deicing the wings of the plane. The melted ice then refroze around the EPR sensors of the engines. When the flight was clear for departure, the EPR settings were showing usually high and the First Officer replied to this saying "that's not right", and the captain replied saying "yes it is, there's eighty [knots]".

Upon rotation of the aircraft and the plane becoming airborne, the aircraft's stick shaker stall warning immediately activated as the airplane harshly and quickly pitched up into the air, with the wings contaminated with ice. The first officer was pilot flying. The captain urges the first officer to push forward on the yoke and that they only wanted to climb to 500 feet as the airspeed was dangerously low, and the aircraft was at a high angle of attack. The 737 then began to descend towards the 14th Street Bridge in a fully developed aerodynamic stall. The first officer then exclaimed "stalling, we're falling", and then "Larry, we're going down, Larry", to which the captain replied, "I know".

The aircraft struck the 14th Street Bridge, which carries Interstate 395 between Washington, D.C. and Arlington County, Virginia. It crushed seven occupied vehicles on the bridge and destroyed 97 feet (30 m) of guard rail[3] before it plunged through the ice into the Potomac River and broke apart.

The crash occurred less than two miles (3 km) from the White House and within view of both the Jefferson Memorial and The Pentagon. The aircraft was carrying 74 passengers and five crewmembers. Four passengers and one flight attendant survived and were rescued from the crash. Another passenger, Arland D. Williams, Jr., assisted in the rescue of the survivors but drowned before he himself could be rescued. Four motorists on the bridge were killed. The survivors were rescued from the icy river by civilians and professionals.

President Ronald Reagan commended these acts during his State of the Union speech a few days later, and the bridge was renamed after Arland D. Williams. The cause of the crash was pilot error.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Afterward". The New York Times Magazine.[dead link]
  2. "January 13 This Day in History" Archived March 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, The History Channel.
  3. "AAR82-08" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 1982-08-10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-11. Retrieved 2009-07-11.

Other websites[change | change source]