Tragic Everglades crash anniversary


One of the most famous and tragic accidents in Florida’s history happened 42 years ago today. On December 29, 1972 Eastern Airlines Flight 401 a new L-1011 Tristar aircraft (photographed) was en route from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Miami International during the busy holiday season tragically into the Everglades.


The cause of the crash was flight crew error as the plane was making its final approach into Miami. The crew had misinterpreted the relevance of a burnt out landing gear indicator. An excellent detailed account of the flight and crash can be found here. It was the first crash of a widebody commercial airliner in the history of the United States. The crash did have 75 survivors but with over a 100 deaths it was at the time the second deadliest airplane crash in US history.

Much of the fame about the crash was created by a book The Ghost of Flight 401 which was considered by those at Eastern an embellishment of the tragedy. Those interested in afterlife theories have clung to the book and it has made the rounds of those also interested in the Everglades. The book was made into a film that starred William Shatner and a song was recorded by Bob Welch in 1979 about the crash.

Photo: “Eastern Air Lines Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 1 Proctor-1” by Jon Proctor – Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons.


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