Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Plane Crash 401
Beverly Raposa was a 23-year-old flight attendant on Eastern Airlines Flight 401 from New York to Miami when the plane crashed into the Everglades at 225 mph near midnight on December 29, 1972.
Of the 176 people on board, 101 died in the plane crash, which at the time was one of the deadliest plane crashes in the country’s history.
“It was like being in a hurricane,” recalls Raposa of Fort Lauderdale. “Then everything was quiet.”
Fifty years later, she and other survivors will unveil a 2,385-pound granite memorial near Miami Springs golf course to honor the “101 dead and 75 survivors.”
“So, I was actually on that plane, [Flight] 401?
Oh, yeah, I rode that downhill,” said Raposa, who is 5-foot-2 and is now 73, a Miami Springs resident. “The NTSB, when they studied it, said this collapse was unavoidable.”
The plane was a state-of-the-art Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar, which took off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 9:20 p.m. on a routine flight to Miami International Airport, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash report. ).
The report states that the captain, 55-year-old Robert Luft, was a DC-8 pilot who had two and a half hours of training aboard the new L-1011.
The flight switched from approaching Miami Airport because an onboard indicator did not indicate that the nose gear was locked in the down position.
Photo courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration“class=”uk-display-block uk-position-relative uk-visual-toggle”>
“Ah, this tower is east, ah, 401. Looks like we’re going to have to turn around. We don’t have a light on our nose yet,” Loft said.
Air traffic control advised the plane to climb 2,000 feet as Luft directed the first officer to engage the autopilot.
“Eastern, ah 401, how are things going there?”
“We did something to rise,” said the first officer.
“Hey, what’s going on here?” Luft said at 11:42 p.m., seconds before the tower’s operators heard a click and six buzzes.
Nicknamed the “Whisperliner” for its smooth and quiet ride, the plane’s engines and wings ripped and worked end-to-end with wheels, leaving gaps in the ground.
The fires blazed in a sawmill covered in jet fuel, 18 miles west of Miami International Airport, where a quarter-mile patch of mangroves was littered with food trays, carry-on bags and corpses.
Photo via Miami Springs“class=”uk-display-block uk-position-relative uk-visual-toggle”>
Tales of ghost sightings after the crash site led to a book and movie deal for TV in 1978 Ghost Flight 401Starring Ernst Borgnine. Ahead of Halloween this year, the Travel Channel aired a special about a team venturing into the Everglades to connect with the ghosts of the flight’s victims and “discover what really happened.”
Government investigators took a less supernatural approach and cited four potential causes of the crash: the pilot’s subtle inability, problems operating the automatic flight system, flight crew training periods, and flight crew distraction.
The coroner’s report revealed that Captain Luft had a tumor that “displaced and softened the right occipital lobe adjacent to the brain.” (The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for visual processing.)
Raposa says the new era She got the 50th anniversary idea from Miami Herald reporter Luisa Yanez when she covered the 37th anniversary of Flight 401.
“People from Denver and New York have told me they’re traveling here, and a lot of eastern folks from all over Florida and beyond have said they’re going,” Raposa wrote in an email to city leaders.
Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Memorial Group is actively raising funds for the project, which is estimated to cost about $600,000, according to the city of Miami Springs.
The memorial will be located where the amphitheater once passed through the city center.
The public is invited to unveil the memorial at 1 p.m. on December 29, 2022, near Building 700 of Curtiss Parkway.
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