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In 1990, three years after a plane crashed in Dorchester, another plane crashed in Mattapan

Lorna Rd Mattapan MA airplane crash MVA 08/24/1990..

Early on Aug. 24, 1990, Michael Spear, the president of the Rouse Co., which had redeveloped what is now Faneuil Hall Marketplace, his wife and daughter got into their Piper Cheyenne turboprop plane for a quick flight to Boston from Chatham.

They never made Logan, though: Around 6:30 a.m., after an air-traffic controller told him to climb to a higher altitude, he radioed he couldn't and that smoke was coming out of one of the engines. Moments later, the plane crashed into a driveway off Lorna Road in Mattapan.

The Spears died on impact. Residents of one house were able to escape the fire the crash caused. The other house was vacant at the time.

The crash came a little more than three years after another plane crashed in the middle of Lonsdale Street in Dorchester, killing the pilot and causing a nine-alarm fire that sent several residents to the hospital with burns. The pilot was also trying for Logan, in a Piper Seneca transporting financial documents. Video.

Other fatal Boston plane crashes involved much larger planes:

Jan. 23, 1982. World Airways DC-10, Logan Airport: A flight from Oakland, with a stop at Newark, landed on an icy Runway 15R. The pilot veered to avoid a pier at the end of the runway and the plane skidded down an embankment into Boston Harbor, which caused the front section of the plane to detach and threw two passengers into the water. Their bodies were never found. The remaining 210 people onboard were able to evacuate - 40 with injuries. Investigators blamed both Logan for failing to maintain a safe runway and the pilot for coming in too fast and touching down too far down the runway. Court case.

Nov. 3, 1973. Pan Am 707, Logan Airport: The three crew members on board this cargo flight died when their plane crashed just short of Runway 33 during an emergency landing. The plane had taken off from JFK, bound for Germany, but was given permission to land at Logan about an hour into the flight when thick smoke filled the cabin, impairing "the flightcrew's vision and ability to function effectively during the emergency." The smoke seems to have come from an improperly packed and stowed shipment of nitric acid, which leaked and reacted with the sawdust that shouldn't have been used to cushion the acid containers. Witnesses saw one of the cockpit windows open and thick smoke come out; the plane "was nearly vertical at impact."

July 31, 1973. Delta Airlines DC-9, Logan Airport: The plane, coming in from Burlington, VT and Manchester, NH, hit a seawall about 3,000 feet before the start of the runway as fog was coming in, killing 82 of 83 passengers and all 5 crew members. The one passenger who survived died five months later. Investigators concluded the flight crew failed to "monitor altitude and to recognize precision approach conducted in rapidly changing meteorological conditions," which was compounded by "questionable information" from the plane's instrumentation and "nonstandard air traffic control services."

March 10, 1964. Slick Airways, Douglas C-54B, Castle Island: Cargo flight from JFK to Logan via Hartford, crashed at Castle Island while on approach to runway 4R, killing the three crew members aboard. A controller at Logan, just across Boston Harbor, spotted the "large ball of flame" from the crash. Investigators blamed a large buildup of ice on the tail during the plane's descent that pitched the plane's nose downward further than the pilot could recover from during the final approach.

Oct. 14, 1960. Eastern Airline Lockheed Electra: Some 62 people, including 3 of 5 crew members, died when the plane, just seven seconds after takeoff and 150 feet above the water, flew through a large flock of starlings, which were sucked into three of the plane's four engines, causing them to shut down and making the plane roll into a spin and crash into Winthrop Harbor, "striking the water almost vertically." Ten people survived. The flight had been bound for Atlanta, with several stops along the way.

Investigators found the remains of at least 75 starlings along Runway 9, from which the plane was departing. In the recovered engines, they found the remains of starlings, including feathers, as well as one seagull feather. To test the theory that the bird strike was responsible for the crash, the engines' manufacturer started up engines and fed starling bodies into them. Additional tests by Lockheed showed it took at least six starlings in an engine to cause a shutdown of the type seen on the crashed plane. Also see this account, which profiles some of the passengers.

H/t Travel New England for the reminder of the Lorna Road anniversary.

Free tagging: 



I remember the January 1982 crash and always found it amazing that they never found the other two passengers.

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A recent podcast remembering World Airways Flight 30.

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For awhile, they closed the Callahan Tunnel to traffic to allow all the emrgency responders to get over to Logan. Had been over at MIT that afternoon, and decided to take an earlier bus than usual out of Haymarket back to Lynn because of the snow. The driver ended up going through Charlestown and over the Tobin Bridge.

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The case of Delvonte Tisdale has always perplexed me. I was working in Milton at the time, not far from where he was found. At first, it seemed stranger than fiction, but it really was a sad story:


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And I remember that at first Boston and Milton cops were treating it as some horrible gang murder because of the condition of his body.

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This is why we have regulations for all these things.

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Most aircraft accidents (both commercial and general aviation) are the result of a chain of events that indvidually may seem minor, but when combined result in tragedy.

With very rare exceptions, the "single failure that brings down a plane" scenario is largely a fiction of Hollywood.

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In another accident context (water-related), I noticed a long time ago that fatal accidents were almost never a case of someone blowing through one red light, figuratively speaking, but more likely rushing through a series of yellows.

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Wery well put.

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Of interest, the Swiss cheese model of accidents in complex systems:

Stack up slices of Swiss cheese. Each slice has holes in random places. If enough holes line up and the stack of slices ends up with a hole all the way through, you get an accident


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The Delta crash, Fight 723, happened on July 31, 1973, not March 7, 1974.

And the "questionable instrumentation" issue was a bit more complicated than the report summary implies. It involved the flight director, which indicates the position of the plane relative to the horizon. On ILS approaches, the flight director can be set up to receive guidance information from the ILS system in different ways.

The DC9 in the crash originally belonged to Northeast Airlines, which merged with Delta in late 1972. To standardize the DC9 fleet, Delta replaced the fight directors in ex-Northeast aircraft with the type used in Delta DC9s. Although the different flight directors had similar operation, they were slightly different in their layout and how the crew could change modes. As I recall from the NTSB report **, the Northeast instruments did not have positive indents for each setting, and you could only turn the setting knob clockwise. The Delta instruments had positive indents for the settings, and you could turn the knob either way to change settings.

The flight crew that day were both ex-Northeast pilots. The NTSB believed that, in the confusion of attempting to continue the approach in the prevailing conditions, and not being entirely familiar with the newer flight director, the pilot inadvertently chose the wrong setting and then, in an attempt to correct the setting, moved the selection knob fully clockwise. This created enough of a delay that they weren't able to take corrective action once they realized the true situation.

For me, the crash of Delta Flight 732 will always be one of those "Do you remember where you were when ..." moments. I was playing with my friends on their back porch when their mother stuck her head out the kitchen window and said "Hey, there's been a plane crash at Logan." We went inside and spent most of the rest of the afternoon watching the coverage on TV.

** The full NTSB report is not available online. However, the report is heavily quoted in the September/October 2002 issue of Airliners magazine, which had features both on the Delta Flight 723 crash and Logan AIrport itself.

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The date I gave was the date the NTSB report was released.

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I thought that was the case, but - as I mentioned - I couldn't look up the NTSB report to verify when it was issued.

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Saturday, October 2, 1954

A Lockheed F-94 Starfire crashed shortly after takeoff from Logan Int Airport, at which time also was the base of operations for the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, when participating an actual air alert scramble. The pilot nosed-dived the plane into the beach embankment in order to avoid slamming into occupied houses in the East Boston neighborhood. The plane was carrying a full load of aviation fuel and .50 caliber ammunition which exploded on impact.

2nd Alarm Box 6264 - 130 Bayswater Road & 30 Shawsheen Road, East Boston District 1 at 12:33 hrs

The memorial stone on Bayswater Street bears this inscription:

First Lt. James O. Conway Pilot, Air National Guard, 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 2 October 1954. First Lieutenant James O. Conway gave his life to protect the Bayswater Street neighborhood. Lt. Conway remained at the controls of his disabled aircraft rather than abandon his plane and risk the lives of others. His heroism, courage and personal sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

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