I KNOW that you are talking about Paris,1974...but in case there are some youngsters on here, please elaborate.
Also, why did one crash and the other, not? Cargo door blew out on both, correct?
AA Flight 96 experienced the exact rear cargo door failure what happened to THY Flight 981 two years later. AA flight 96 was able to be saved because there were only 56 passengers on board and nobody sitting in the section directly above the rear cargo hold. The lack of weight upon the floor allowed it to only partially collapse into the hold, keeping a few control lines intact...enough for the pilots to get the plane down safely. Interesting to note, a dead body in a coffin was being carried as cargo in the rear hold. It was ejected.
THY Flight 981 experienced the exact door failure, though with a full load of passengers’ weight on the floor, the collapse was total, all lines severed, no control. Down they went.
I seem to remember reading as well that there was some kind of stand-up bar in the back, and one of the flight attendants was briefly trapped because of the partially collapsed floor. I have no source other than to say "I read it a long time ago". Maybe someone here in the know can confirm.
The THY crash was filled to the brim because of a strike at London Heathrow airport by ground services, meaning ticketed passengers on BEA flights were out of luck. THY used a different service, hence it was not canceled. The plane was full because of all those "stranded" passengers thinking they were lucky, when indeed, they were not. Because of the extra weight, the flight controls were completely severed.
On a side note, I have always read that the two rows of seats that were ejected were rows of three - I have never heard of a DC-10 being anything other than 2x5x2. Was THY's fleet of DC-10's 3x3x3?
Your memory about the trapped flight attendant is correct. There were a number of books written about the DC-10 in the aftermath of the Paris crash; the crew of AA 96 was interviewed for the books, and one of the recollections that was shared was the story of the flight attendant who was briefly trapped.
However, AA 96 almost certainly would have crashed even though it was lightly loaded, had it not been for the exceptional airmanship of the DC-10's pilot, Bryce McCormick, When Captain McCormick transitioned to the DC-10 in 1972, he was very concerned about what would happen if the DC-10 suffered a total hydraulic failure. In his free time during the training process, he learned how to maneuver a DC-10 soley by adjusting the thrust of the aircraft's engines, without touching any of the other controls. As others have said, AA 96's hydraulic system was functional after the cargo door failure due to the light load. However, the partial floor collapse did jam most of the control cables to the DC-10's horizontal and vertical stabilizers. The rudder was jammed to starboard, which caused the DC-10 to continuously yaw to the right, and there was no way to un jam it.
Captain McCormick was able to maneuver the DC-10 back to Detroit despite its damage, mainly by adjusting the thrust of the left and right engines. Had a pilot who lacked McCormick's knowledge of the DC-10 been in command of the DC-10, it would have been almost impossible for the aircraft to land safely at Detroit.
Source: "Destination Disaster", by Paul Eddy, Elaine Potter, and Bruce Page. This book is long out of print, but it's readily available on the various used book web sites. I think it's the best of the books written about the AA 96 incident and Turkish DC-10 crash. Chapter 8, "The Ordeal of Bryce McCormick" has a detailed account of the AA 96 incident, including the following quote which sums up how terrifying it was: "The crew were put into a hotel near Detroit Airport. McCormick, (first officer) Whitney and (second officer) Burke are not inveterate drinkers, but that night, they had no trouble killing a quart bottle of Scotch".
McCormick demonstrated his then-unusual technique for controlling an aircraft through variable thrust to (among others) FAA and NTSB officials investigating the AA 96 incident. The technique pioneered by McCormick was subsequently used by the flight crew of UA 232 17 years later to make it to Sioux City for an emergency landing.