Air Florida Flight 90

Air Florida Flight 90 . Tragedy occurred due to the pilot’s negligence and his indifference to the copilot’s instructions.



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  • 1 History
    • 1 Conversation
  • 2 Take off
    • 1 Conversation
  • 3 Explosion
  • 4 Sources


The 13 of January of 1982 , at the National Airport Washington , was living one of the worst snowfall in living memory for those times, several flights were canceled, on the slopes workers can not keep trying to thaw several planes waiting turn while the heavy snow abates, among which is Air Florida Flight 90 , bound for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida , and will have a stopover at Tampa International Airport , Florida , the 74 passengers are waiting inside the plane and will be served by 3 flight attendants.

Captain Larry Wheaton pilots the plane and as first officer is Allan Petit, both had never seen a snowfall like this and are very worried because they are already very late in their take-off departure, the tug could not take it out to the runway since it was skidding on the ice and the pavement could not be grasped, so the pilots try to get away from the boarding door by their own means using the reversers of the turbines , they do not succeed, but they keep trying without realizing that in this maneuver the engines are swallowing a lot of snow In the end, another tugboat with chains on its wheels manages to take the plane to runways to take its turn to take off.

A lot of ice and snow accumulates on the wings but the captain for fear of losing his place of departure and being delayed even more if he asked for another de-icing treatment stayed on the departure runway waiting for his turn, which would be fatal, although they talk about this problem in the cabin


— First Officer Petit: It’s a waste of time trying to thaw the wings, it gives you a false sense of security, it just does that.

— Captain Wheaton: Yes, but that’s what makes the feds happy (he was referring to the federal government authorities).


The first officer commented on the instrument readings in the sense that apparently there was a problem with the 737’s power development, but the captain did not give it much importance and continued with the takeoff maneuver.

Already in the air, the plane does not reach lift speed and falls into what is known in the aeronautical environment as stall (stagnation), it was almost stopped in the air and then began to fall, the desperate dialogue of the crew before the tragedy:


— Washington Tower: Palm 90 in contact with departure control

— Captain Wheaton: Go ahead, fine, we only want 500 (he meant altitude feet) … go ahead … go ahead … we’re going up … we’re stalling, we’re falling !! !

— First officer Petit terrified: Larry … we are falling !!.

— Captain Wheaton: I know … !!.

— Sound of impact, Flight 90 has crashed.


The fall had been towards one of the bridges that crosses the Potomac River , the one on 14th Street, crushed 6 cars and a truck that were on that bridge and at the same time damaged part of a railroad that runs parallel to that bridge and later fell into the frozen waters of the river.

On the bridge, 4 people died, they were motorists, and in the plane that had submerged only five people came out, clinging to the only thing that did not submerge from the plane, the tail.


by Abdullah Sam
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