On This Day in Aviation History

January 13, 2014

January 13th in Aviation History: Air Florida 90 Crashes and First Single Rotor Helicopter Flight

2004 – An Uzbekistan Airways Yak-42 crashes on approach to Tashkent in heavy fog, killing all 37 aboard.

1993 – Space Shuttle Endeavour makes its third trip to inner space, launching from Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-54, to launch a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F).

The tail of Air Florida Flight 90 floats atop the Potomac River.

The tail of Air Florida Flight 90 floats atop the Potomac River.

1982 – Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737-200, crashes onto Washington D.C.’s 14th Street Bridge and the Potomac River after taking off from Washington National Airport (DCA). “It’s a losing battle trying to de-ice these things. It gives you a false sense of security, that’s all it does,” were the exact words uttered by First Officer Roger Pettit as he and the captain decided to takeoff without another de-icing treatment following a 49 minute taxi during a snow storm. Not only did they fail to heed that safety precaution, they also skipped turning on the engine’s anti-icing system. It were those decisions and their late application of increased thrust that made Flight 90 their last. Engine indicators gave false-high thrust readings, and the captain proceeded with the takeoff despite the first officer’s concerns that the gauges were wrong. Of the 79 souls on board, 74 perished, plus another four motorists on the bridge that the aircraft struck. Coincidentally, and adding to the rescue’s strain, Washington’s Metro suffered its first fatal train crash about 30 minutes after the Air Florida disaster.

1942 – Igor Sikorsky pilots the first fully practical, single rotor helicopter.

1942 – While flying a Heinkel He 280 jet fighter, German test pilot Helmet Shenck becomes the first to use an ejection seat.



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