Plane crashes of:

Pan Am 103 - USAir 427 - UA 585


Pan Am Flight 103

Lockerbie, Scotland - Dec. 21, 1988

Speed:  over 500 mph

Accident description
Date: 21 DEC 1988
Type: Boeing 747-121A
Operator: Pan American World Airways
Total: Fatalities: 259 / Occupants: 259
Location: Lockerbie (United Kingdom)
Flightnumber: 103

"The forward fuselage and flight deck area separated when the aircraft was in a nose down and left roll attitude, peeling away to the right at Station 800. The nose section then knocked the no. 3 engine off its pylon. The remaining aircraft disintegrated while it was descending nearly vertically from 19000 feet to 9000 feet. A section of cabin floor and baggage hold (from approx. Station 1241-1920) fell onto housing at Rosebank Terrace, Lockerbie. The main wing structure struck the ground with a high yaw angle at Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie causing a massive fire." - Aviation Safety Network

"A minute later, the wing section containing 200,000 lb [29,200 gal] of fuel hit the ground at Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie. The British Geological Survey at Eskdalemuir, just outside Lockerbie, registered a seismic event measuring 1.6 on the Richter scale as all trace of two families, several houses, and the 196 ft (60 m) wing of the aircraft disappeared. A British Airways pilot, Captain Robin Chamberlain, flying the Glasgow–London shuttle near Carlisle called Scottish to report that he could see a massive fire on the ground.

As it descended, the fuselage broke into smaller pieces, with the section attached to the wings landing first in Sherwood Crescent, where the aviation fuel inside the wings ignited, causing a fireball that destroyed several houses, and which was so intense that nothing remained of the left wing of the aircraft. Investigators were able to determine that both wings had landed in the crater only after counting the number of large steel flapjack screws that were found there (Cox and Foster 1992).

On the ground, 11 Lockerbie residents were killed when the wings, still attached by a piece of fuselage, hit 13 Sherwood Crescent at more than 500 mph and exploded, creating a crater (155 ft) long and with a volume of (730 yd³), vaporizing several houses and their foundations, and damaging 21 others so badly they had to be demolished." - wikipedia

"Passing overhead Lockerbie, Scotland, the aircraft disintegrated when an explosion occurred in the forward baggage hold. The centre fuselage and wing sections fell into a residential district, digging a crater some 30ft deep and 150ft long. 20 houses were destroyed." -

(Photo source:  Victims of Pan Am Flight 103)

See also:

USAir Flight 427


Aliquippa, PA - Sept. 8, 1994


Speed: 300 mph



Accident description

Date: 08 SEP 1994
Type: Boeing 737-3B7
Operator: USAir
Total: Fatalities: 132 / Occupants: 132
Location: near Aliquippa, PA (map)
Flightnumber: 427


"The plane descended fast and impacted the ground nose first at 261 knots in an 80deg nose down, 60deg left bank attitude and with significant sideslip." - Aviation Safety Network



Date: 08 September 1994
Airline: USAir
Flight No.: 427
Aircraft: B737-300
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Fatalities: 132:132

About a 100 miles from Shanksville - Yahoo maps



All that remains of USAir Flight 427, on a hill outside Pittsburgh. What would cause the Boeing 737 to spiral out of a blue sky and dive into a gravel road at 300 mph? It would be one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. - St. Petersburg Times (map) [Hi Res - Source]


Wreckage of US Air 427, near Pittsburgh, September 8, 1994. -






"Because some portions of the wreckage were not visible above the ground, investigative personnel used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to locate and recover additional pieces of the wreckage. Some pieces of wreckage were excavated from the hillside at depths of up to 8 feet. Most of the airplane wreckage, including all flight controls and major components, was located within a 350-foot radius of the main impact crater.

The left wing and the No. 1 engine, which were located south of the access road and east of the main impact crater, exhibited severe impact and postimpact fire damage. The No. 1 engine was separated from the left wing and partially covered by burned left wing skin and spar materials. A ground scar, about 25 feet in length, extended in an easterly direction from the No. 1 engine and left wing wreckage on an up-sloping hill.

The right wing, which was located along the northern edge of the access road about 40 feet west of the main impact crater, also exhibited severe impact damage. The No. 2 engine was separated from the right wing and located along the northern edge of the access road about 30 feet west of the main impact crater.

The cockpit, which was found approximately 45 feet south of the main impact crater, was severely fragmented. The identified sections of the cockpit and the forward portion of the fuselage exhibited compression damage, deformation along the airplane's longitudinal axis, and some postimpact fire damage." - NTSB





Airplane Simulation Chase View:  Video Simulation
USAir Flight 427
Aliquippa, PA
September 8, 1994
Boeing 737-300 - EuroSafety


USAir Flight 427: The remnants of the Boeing 737-3B7 are scattered along a Hopewell Township hillside on Sept. 9, 1994, the day after it crashed. All 132 on board were killed in what remains the area’s worst aviation disaster in history. -


United Airlines Flight 585


Colorado Springs, CO - March 3, 1991


Speed: over 230 mph



Accident description
Date: 03 MAR 1991
Type: Boeing 737-291
Operator: United Airlines
Location: near Colorado Springs, CO
Flight number: 585

"The aircraft then suddenly rolled to the right and started to pitch nose down. The crew tried to initiate a go-around by selecting 15-deg. flaps and an increase in thrust. The altitude decreased rapidly, acceleration increased to over 4G until the aircraft struck the ground of Widefield Park almost vertically." - Aviation Safety Network



The wreckage of United Airlines 585.



Special Report: United Airlines Flight 585

"The aircraft was turning from its 45° intercept to the extended runway centerline, and the first officer called "we're at 1,000 feet."
Dozens of witnesses in the community directly under the extended centerline watched as the airplane levelled off momentarily on the runway heading, 3.5 miles from the threshold. Then, it rolled to the right, pitched down until reaching a nearly vertical attitude, and compacted itself into a 39-foot wide, 15-foot deep crater in an area known as Widefield Park. All onboard were killed.

The first officer said, "Oh, God," - the altitude decreased rapidly; the indicated airspeed increased to over 200 knots; and the normal acceleration increased to over 4g." - AirDisaster.Com


An aerial view of the United 585 crash site.



Uncontrolled Descent and Collision With Terrain, United Airlines Flight 585
"There was no damage to structures on the ground. Trees adjacent to the impact crater were damaged by flying debris and soot, and nearby patches of grass north and northeast of the crater were scorched. The size of the impact crater measured approximately 39 feet by 24 feet and was about 15 feet deep.

The flightpath direction was about 020 degrees magnetic, and the flightpath angle was about 80 degrees down.

An aerial search along the flightpath found no debris that had separated from the airplane before ground impact... The airplane's fuselage had severe accordion-like fore and aft crushing throughout its entire length with overstress breaks. Except for two aft fuselage sections of skin and small debris, the entire fuselage was contained within the impact crater.

The left wing was partially in the crater at the crash site. The entire length was broken into pieces, and the portion of the wing in the crater was burned and partially consumed by fire.

The right wing was partially in the crater. The entire wing, from the engine attach points outboard, was severely crushed. The outer 35 feet of the wing was located outside the crater and was embedded in the ground with the leading edge down and the chord of the wing perpendicular to the ground.

The vertical stabilizer and rudder were in the impact crater, damaged severely by impact and fire. Remnants of the vertical stabilizer and rudder were removed from the crater and examined for preimpact abnormalities. The vertical stabilizer fin cap was damaged but complete. The lower vertical stabilizer front spar structure was in the crater and was severely damaged by impact.
The horizontal stabilizer was in the crater, in pieces and severely burned. The horizontal stabilizer parts were located at the top of the pile of destroyed airplane debris. The star section (front and rear horizontal spar to fuselage attach structure) was separated into three major pieces.

The forward portion of the right engine was buried about 7 feet in the ground under the right wing at an angle of about 50 degrees." - NTSB




(Photo source:



Airplane Simulation Chase View:  Video simulation
United Airlines Flight 585
Colorado Springs, CO
March 3, 1991
Boeing 737-200 - EuroSafety

Aeroméxico Flight 498


Cerritos, CA  - Aug 31, 1986





Accident description

Date: 31 AUG 1986
Type: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
Operator: Aeroméxico
Total: Fatalities: 64 / Occupants: 64
Location: Cerritos, CA (United States of America)
Phase: Approach
Flight number: 498

"Aéromexico flight 498 was a scheduled passenger flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles with intermediate stops at Guadalajara, Loreto and Tijuana. The DC-9, named "Hermosillo", departed Tijuana at 11:20 and proceeded toward Los Angeles at FL100. At 11:44 Coast Approach Control cleared the flight to 7000 feet. Just three minutes earlier Piper Pa-28-181 Cherokee N4891F departed Torrance, CA for a VFR flight to Big Bear, CA. On board were a pilot and two passengers.
At about 11:52:09, flight 498 and the Piper collided over Cerritos at an altitude of about 6,560 feet. The Piper struck the left hand side of the DC-9's horizontal and vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer sliced through the Piper's cabin following which it separated from the tailplane. Both planes tumbled down out of control. The wreckage and postimpact fires destroyed five houses and damaged seven others. Fifteen persons on the ground were killed." - Aviation Safety Network


Accident Investigation Report NTSB/AAR-87/07 (PDF)


(Photos source:


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