May 25, 1979 The Worst Air Disaster in American History

The crash of American Airlines Flight 191 near O’Hare

The worst air disaster in American history claims 273 lives.

From The Chicago Tribune

As an American Airlines DC-10 jet roared into the sky over O’Hare International Airport on this Friday afternoon, its left engine fell off. Flight 191, bound for Los Angeles at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend, rolled over in the air and plunged to the earth less than a mile from the runway. The plane “burst into a pillar of flame and smoke that could be seen up to eight miles away,” the Tribune reported. Nearby resident Abe Marmel, who was working in his vegetable garden, heard the explosion: “By the time I looked up, there was a rain of fire falling down on me.”

All 271 people on board and two people on the ground were killed. It remains America’s worst aviation disaster. The death toll could have been higher, but the plane just missed hitting a trailer park north of the airport. A priest at a Catholic church in Elk Grove Village reached the scene within minutes.”It was too hot to really do anything but administer the last rites,” he told the Tribune……. continued

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