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"The Plane That Fell From The Sky"  
User currently offlineBlackBox From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 41 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 16147 times:

Does anybody remember a network news special from the early '80s entitled "The Plane that Fell From the Sky"? I believe it aired on CBS in around '83 or '84. The program investigated a plane that suddenly and without explanation nose-dived while at cruise altitude and came very close to crashing. What real-life incident was this TV program discussing (year, airline, aircraft, etc.)? I seem to recall a TWA-looking 727 depicted in the show, but that doesn't necessarily mean the incident involved TWA.

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSmcmac32msn From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2211 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15846 times:

I heard something about a (gasps with sarcasm) NW DC9 flying over Iowa when it went into coffin corner and started dropping like a leaf, the pilot quickly thought to put the landing gear down and that saved the aircraft by changing the airflow around the plane and the Center of Gravity..........

PLEASE DON'T TURN THIS INTO A NW DC9 THREAD JUST BECAUSE I SAID "NW DC9" IN MY POST!!!!



Hey Obama, keep the change! I want my dollar back.
User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12150 posts, RR: 49
Reply 2, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15825 times:

I believe it was a TWA jet, I thought it was a 727 and after the pilots regained control the plane actually landed in TOL.


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineSmcmac32msn From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2211 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15815 times:

Luv2fly - I actually think your right, TOL rings a bell with that story.


Hey Obama, keep the change! I want my dollar back.
User currently offlineLoneStarMike From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 3867 posts, RR: 34
Reply 4, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15790 times:

I don't remember the documentary, but I do vaguely remember the incident. It was TWA Flight 841 and it happened on April 4, 1979 over Saginaw, Michigan.

More info here

LoneStarMike

User currently offlineDc8jet From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 326 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15729 times:

The aircraft was TWA B727-31 N840TW and it did happen on April 4, 1979 over Saginaw. It went from 39,000 to 5,000 in 63 seconds. There was some damage to the aircraft and an emergency landing was made at DTW.

User currently offlineBlackBox From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 41 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 15728 times:

Thanks all for the replies.

Yes, LoneStarMike, that sounds like the one. The plane plummeted about 30,000 feet in just over a minute, and was seconds away from impact before the crew miraculously regained control. Scary stuff.

Strangely enough, TWA had already lost a previous Flight 841, when a bomb exploded on TWA Flight 841 in 1974 from Athens to JFK. TWA came a mere seconds away from losing two planes with the same flight number, within a span of 5 years.


User currently offlineTexdravid From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1365 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 15693 times:

The pilot saved the aircraft by lowering the landing gear, somehow slowing the descent and allowing him to control the aircraft and land it.



Tort reform now. Throw lawyers in jail later.
User currently offlineJuanr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 15676 times:

OH!!! I was born in April 4th 1979!!!
:D Big grin Big grin

Juan
SKBO


User currently offlineLoneStarMike From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 3867 posts, RR: 34
Reply 9, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 15555 times:

TWA came a mere seconds away from losing two planes with the same flight number, within a span of 5 years.

Well, it took them 32 years, but TWA finally did end up having two fatal accidents involving the same flight number. (Flight 800) The first one was in 1964 at Rome. The second one happened 8 years ago tonight.

LoneStarMike

User currently offlineTriJetFan1 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1128 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 15427 times:
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Yes, I read about that in the book "Unfriendly Skies" By pilot X. He talks about it.


Earned PPL June 26, 2007
User currently offlineAa717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
Reply 11, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 15271 times:

The NTSB, FAA and TWA management tried to hang the crew for the TW841 incident. They came up with some crazy scenario where the crew pulled a CB and it allowed them to extend the flaps to the 1 degree position without extending the leading edge slats. Supposedly that proveded a higher speed and the Capt. was allegedly trying to make a commuter flight.

This was my first experience with the FAA going to extrordinary lengths to try to pin a problem on a crew. After a lengthy and costly battle, the crew was exhonerated and the incident remains a mystery.

Couldn't have been a rudder problem, could it? Naaaah.TC



FL450, M.85
User currently offlineKilroy From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 15194 times:

so does any one in here know what coffin corner really is.????????
actually its when the aircraft is going so fast that the air flow of the wings becomes supersonic . As air passes over the elevators the flow moves towards the back of the elevator.the faster the plane goes the farther back the airflows goes until it is behind the elevators meaning no downward force on the elevators. this means there is no airflow over the resulting in a stall of the tail of the aircraft


User currently offlineLoneStarMike From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 3867 posts, RR: 34
Reply 13, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 15129 times:

I found this short article about the incident in the internet archives.

The Screaming Dive of Flight 841

There is also some information in this court case filed by the captain of Flight 841:

Gibson v NTSB

LoneStarMike

User currently offlineAirTran737 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3707 posts, RR: 12
Reply 14, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 14796 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Speaking of MBS, didnt they have a crash there a while back when it was still called Tri-Cities Int'l? MY mom grew up just a few miles away from the airport, but she could give a rip about airplanes, so she doesnt know much about it.


Nice Trip Report!!! Great Pics, thanks for posting!!!! B747Forever
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 14475 times:

I think had the CVR not been manually erased, some of the questions if it where crew induced would have never been raised.


"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlineElectraBob From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 931 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 14151 times:

AirTran737 --

Way back in 1958, a Capital Airlines Vickers Viscount turboprop crashed at Saginaw....47 fatalities....that could be what your mom is thinking of. I don't remember any other commercial crashes at MBS.



Having a smoking section in a restaurant is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.....
User currently offlineTarheel From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 13563 times:

I remember a BA 747 flying in SE Asia when it ran into the debris of a volcano explosion and ultimately lost all 4 engines. Due to the high altitude, the crew was able to control the plane until it could restart the engines and safely land.

User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12150 posts, RR: 49
Reply 18, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 13415 times:

Tarheel

I believe you are thinking of an Air New Zealand flight that had that happen.



You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineMspphl From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 14 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 13116 times:

It was indeed a BA 747 from Kuala Lumpur to Perth. It went through cloud of volcanic ash from Java’s Galunggung volcano. There are several incidents where inflight loss of power has occured from volcanic clouds. Shortly after the BA incident, a SQ 747 returned to Singapore after losing two engines. In 1989 a KL 747 lost all four after Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupted. These all were clearly tied back to the volcanic ash and the havoc they play on engines, windscreens, and the airframe in general. Certainly different from the TWA incident, though just as tense for the crew.

-MSPPHL


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17172 posts, RR: 66
Reply 20, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 13025 times:

so does any one in here know what coffin corner really is.????????
actually its when the aircraft is going so fast that the air flow of the wings becomes supersonic . As air passes over the elevators the flow moves towards the back of the elevator.the faster the plane goes the farther back the airflows goes until it is behind the elevators meaning no downward force on the elevators. this means there is no airflow over the resulting in a stall of the tail of the aircraft


That's a definition of supersonic airflow effects, not Coffin Corner/Coffin Alley.

Coffin Corner is the result of rising too high for the airframe. The higher you fly, the higher your stall speed in knots. Conversely, the higher you fly, the lower the Mach speed in knots. In the end, you are left out of space. Go slower and the plane stalls. Go faster and the plane runs into Mach buffet and the effects you described. One small shift in the wind or some turbulence and you pass the edges of the envelope. You are quite simply flying yourself into a figurative corner as the edges of the envelope get ever closer.

For a U-2/TR-2, the normal operating altitude leaves only a 10 knot speed window. Hairy for the pilot.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinePIA777 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1738 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 12749 times:

I also remember that TWA flight . I also remember that it happened over
Michigan and I also read about it in readers digest. The plane was a TWA 727
I remember the Captains nickname was "Hoot". He pulled the plane out of the dive by manually releasing the landing gear. He was later promoted to an L1011 but the investiagtion blamed him and TWA fired him.

PIA777



GO CUBS!!
User currently offline747SPA330MD11 From Germany, joined Dec 2003, 100 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (10 years 5 months 5 days ago) and read 11432 times:

Was it this one ??


View Large View Medium
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Photo © Frank C. Duarte Jr.



later on for Jet East converted into freighter


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Photo © David A. Grant



in July 2002 still in service, now for Charter America


View Large View Medium
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Photo © Mark Durbin



Regards

Jan



Save the 747 SP !!
User currently offlineF9Fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 703 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (10 years 5 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 10609 times:

I'm thinking TWA has had a lot of bad luck with all flight numbers in the 840-849 range. Wasn't it TW 847 that was hijacked back in 1985 on a flight from ATH to FCO and flown to ALG and eventually BEY where the passengers were deplaned and eventually released (after one was murdered)? I also remember TW 840 flying from FCO to ATH had a bomb detonate on board killing two passengers when the seats they were seated in were sucked out the hole the bomb made. (I think TWA cancelled the FCO-ATH route after that.)

F9Fan


User currently offlineVimanav From India, joined Jul 2003, 1524 posts, RR: 14
Reply 24, posted (10 years 5 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 10364 times:


I remember the Captains nickname was "Hoot". He pulled the plane out of the dive by manually releasing the landing gear. He was later promoted to an L1011 but the investiagtion blamed him and TWA fired him.

The story of TW841 (N840TW) remains a mystery as the reasons for that uncontrolled dive were never really resolved. A few points on the Captain and on the incident:

1. Besides B727s, Captain Harvey "Hoot" Gibson was already a qualfied pilot on DC9s, L1011s and the B747 (besides helicopters and hot air balloons). In fact he had started flying at the age of 13 and at the time of the incident (he was 44) he had accumulated 15710hrs.

2. He was an air traffic controller prior joining TWA in 1963.

3. He was a B747 F/O for a year and in DEC78 he had an accident which laid him off for 3 months. Upon his return he was made a Captain on B727s and on 28MAR that year he had just completed his route flight checks.

4. TW841 was his first flight as a full fledged Captain on B727s.

5. On that particular flight he climbed to 39000ft due to very strong headwinds (in excess of 100kts) at 35000ft, even though there were serious questions to the stability of the B727-100 at such a high altitude.

6. While the aircraft was plunging its average descent speeds was 46000ft per minute which went up to 76000ft per minute at one stage. The aircraft even broke the sound barrier on a couple of occasions during that uncontrolled dive.

7. The deployment of the landing gear (at 470kts) was the crucial action which ultimately saved the aircraft (despite a manufacturers directive that the gear should not be deployed above speeds of 270kts). However such was the effect of the slipstream that the right gear nearly came off and was blown backwards past the over-centre position.

8. Following the incident, it was found that deployment of slats at that altitude was responsible for this uncontrolled descent. The selection of flaps would also deploy slats. For 2 degrees of flap some of the slats would deploy while 5 degrees of more of flap selection would deploy all the leading edge devices. The operation of these devices is expressly forbidden on B727s above IAS 230kts and altitude of 20000ft. It was however rumoured that it was a widespread practice for crew to select flaps at cruising altitudes on the 727 to improve performance. Since the operation of leading edge devices at such altitudes seriously compromised safety, 727 crews, it was alleged were pulling the electrical circuit breaker which shut off the hydraulic valve that fed the slats thereby isolating the mechanism in retracted position and then extending trailing edge flaps to 2 degrees using the flap lever.

9. The implication was that the pilot of N840TW had on that day selected flaps but by some error the slat (second from outboard on the starboard wing) was also deployed causing the aircraft to chart this entirely unplanned flight path with hair raising effects to say the least.

10. The NTSB pinned the blame on the pilots though there was insufficient evidence to prove that they had adopted such a practice. One of the pilots on the NTSB investigating panel even mentioned that in a separate note attached to the NTSB ruling.

11. Though the NTSB ruling was challenged by 'Hoot' Gibson and an appeal against the verdict was launched, it took eight years before it reached the Supreme Court where again, very unfortunately Gibson's case was not one of those selected for review and the matter ended there.

12. As for the crew, F/O Gordon Banks found the pressure from the aftermath taking its toll on him and gave up flying to become a lecturer. F/E Jess Kennedy remained with TWA and gained his command.

13. 'Hoot' Gibson flew as Captain on L1011s for 3 years after the incident and then transferred to B747s as F/O in 1982. In 1983, the litigation in which he became involved had its effect and in JAN84, Gibson opted for early retirement on medical grounds with review after 5 years. He went back to his farm in Costa Rica. After two years of farming 'Hoot' Ever-The-Pilot Gibson returned to flying duties with TWA in JAN86 as a B747 Captain.

It is widely felt in the aviation fraternity that gross injustice was done to 'Hoot' did a mighty fine job of bringing back a stricken aircraft safely. It is time that the judgement was reviewed.

Hope that gives some info about "the plane that fell from the sky". For more details check out the book 'Emergency - Crisis on the Flight Deck' by Stanley Stewart.

rgds//Vimanav



Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
25 Cedarjet : Nice work Viminav; although one important fact that was missing from your info is that the crew wiped the CVR on landing. The CVR can (this may not be
26 Vimanav : Dear Cedarjet I tried to keep my post as concise as possible and hence missed out that point. Thanks for bringing that up... yes it was a very importa
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