Monday, May 26, 2014

I Remember This Airplane Crash

From the Chicago Sun Times:
Sunday marks the 35th anniversary of the American Airlines Flight 191 crash just outside O’Hare Airport that claimed the lives of 271 people aboard and two on the ground.
The Los Angeles-bound jet lost its left engine on takeoff, banked left and crashed on May 25, 1979. The indelible event in Chicago history remains the worst single airplane disaster on U.S. soil.
The jet crashed near Touhy Avenue and Mount Prospect Road, just south of the of now-closed Des Plaines Oasis on the Jane Addams Tollway.
The crash happened on takeoff from runway 32-Right. The DC-10 reached just 325 feet before plummeting at 3:04 p.m. Investigators ruled a maintenance shortcut at a repair shop in Tulsa, Okla., two months earlier damaged a crucial part of the pylon that held the left engine onto the wing.
And this: The Los Angeles-bound McDonnell Douglas DC-10 jet crashed in a field off Touhy Avenue in an unincorporated area between Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village shortly after 3 p.m., moments after taking off from Chicago O'Hare International Airport....
'Nothing could prepare you'In his nearly four years as a Des Plaines firefighter, Tom Farinella hadn't experienced anything like it.
Then 26, Farinella was an acting lieutenant on Truck 81 with Des Plaines Fire Station No. 1 when the call came in that a plane had crashed.
"When we first got there, we were told that it was a cargo jet," Farinella recalled. "However, after you were on the scene and you spotted the first body or remains, there was no question that it was a passenger jet. The field was just totally ablaze because of all of the jet fuel. Nothing could prepare you for that."...
Dr. John Kenney was driving home to Des Plaines after teaching pediatric dentistry at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, traveling north on the Tri-State Tollway around 3:15 p.m. when the call came from American Airlines.
Kenney, who had worked for the airline from 1968 to 1972, was the first forensic dentist on the scene after the crash. He had just returned from taking a weeklong course in aircraft accident investigation at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C.
He was part of a team of 30 dentists tapped to identify victims from charred remains. He drove to American's blue hangar at O'Hare, which later became the makeshift morgue. By 5:30 p.m., he was surveying the crash site, a scene he remembers as organized chaos.
"I was walking into a sea of death," said Kenney, who today has a pediatric dental practice in Park Ridge and is a staff member at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, also in Park Ridge.
Today, there are federal disaster teams that work major airline crashes and other large-scale catastrophes, and portable morgues are stationed around the country. None of that existed at the time of the Flight 191 crash.
"We had to put together a morgue from scratch," he said.
One of the images that stuck with him was when Batesville Casket Co. unloaded 300 caskets. "When you saw the rows and rows of body bags lined up in the blue hangar, you got a sense of the fragility of life, and the monumental task that faced us," Kenney said.
Me and a friend were in the Chicago area, visiting a strip club.  It was my first time at a strip club and after they charged my $20 for 2 beers and a stripper tried to get her to buy drins for her, we were out of there.
Then as were driving, we were listening to the news and heard about the crash and changed the radio station of my 1970 AMC Javelin car to WBBM and listen tot he radio reports of the crash.  We were close enough to Chicago to see a little bit of smoke from the crash but not close enough to comprehend how horrible the crash was.
That day haunted me for a long time, even though we did not see the crash.  It also put the fear of flying into me.
So, now, you readers know I am afraid of guns and flying.

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