It may not have been the worst year, but 1996 was not a good year for aviation. It was the year of the ValuJet crash in the Everglades (110 aboard, 110 killed). There were crashes in Norway and India that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of passengers and crew members. A U.S. Air Force jet crashed in Croatia, killing the 35 people on board, one of whom was the Secretary of Commerce. And, of course, it was the year that TWA Flight 800 exploded off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board has a few more small plane crashes to investigate. First, authorities have confirmed that a small plane accident on a beach in Venice, Florida, has claimed the lives of two people. And, over the past few weeks, other accidents around the country have claimed one life and resulted in injuries to a number of other people.
The families and friends of the men killed in a private jet crash in Huntsville, Alabama, did not learn much from the National Transportation Safety Board this morning. The NTSB's preliminary report confirmed what the press had reported: The plane with the three men aboard took off from the Huntsville International Airport, climbed between 50 and 200 feet, rolled to the right and slammed into the ground just west of the runway.
By now, many New Yorkers have heard about the plane crash last week that killed a member of the famous Rockefeller family. Richard Rockefeller, who was a physician who lived in Maine, died when his single-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Westchester County Airport. The plane crash happened just outside the airport grounds, in a neighborhood in Purchase. The pilot was the only casualty of the accident.
There are many variables and factors to take into account to determine the cause of an aircraft accident. In a private aircraft crash, even a slight error on the part of a pilot -- even one with a considerable amount of experience -- can lead to disaster.
A common theme on our blog is how, in the wake of an airplane crash, the questions are many and the answers are few. This is certainly the case in a small plane crash that killed all seven people aboard, including a Philadelphia media tycoon, in Massachusetts over the weekend.
Most of the time on our aviation accidents blog, we talk about plane crashes and the impact they can have on the lives of the people involved. However, airplanes aren't the only kind of aircraft that can prove to be dangerous to the occupants of those aircraft. Recently, a freak accident at a hot air balloon festival in Virginia last week led to the deaths of the pilot and two passengers.
For people who have a quest for high-adrenaline activities, it's hard to beat skydiving. Jumping out of a plane is the height of adventure for many people -- and the last thing on earth that many other folks would want to do. At any rate, skydiving continues to be popular, and many small planes in service are devoted exclusively to taking up those who want to get back to earth on their own.
The recent and still-unexplained disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight has got a lot of people talking about airplane safety. If the worst-case scenario is true and it turns out that nobody on the flight survived, it would be a major disaster. But while the loss of hundreds of people in one fell swoop is indeed dramatic, it can serve as a reminder that deaths in airplane accidents are relatively rare.
By now, most of our readers in New York and beyond have heard about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which lost radar contact over the South China Sea on a flight between Malaysia and Beijing. Aviation experts say that while it is likely that the plane crashed into the water, there are precious few clues to go on so far in the presumed international airline disaster. The plane involved, a Boeing 777, was carrying 239 passengers and crew members when it disappeared.