Deadliest Airliner Crash In Minnesota Happened 30 Years Ago + Featured On TV Show
As I've been sitting at home, isolated by the latest round of COVID, I've found myself having plenty of time to watch some TV. One of my favorite channels is the Smithsonian Channel.
One of the shows I watch quite a bit is Air Disasters. It's a show that tells the story of plane crashes (normally involving airlines) and the investigation that follows the crash. I find it fascinating to see how these investigators piece together what led to the crash with the little evidence they have. It's all done in the hopes that aviation won't make the same mistake twice.
One of the episodes I was just watching was called "Killer Elevation." It's on Season 17, episode 5. Also, can we stop for a second to point out that they have 20-plus seasons of this show, and it's still going? Kind of makes you wonder if flying is that safe if they never run out of material.
In the episode "Killer Elevation," they highlight a tragic air crash that took place 30 years ago this year. On December 1, 1993, Northwest Airlink Flight 5719 crashed on approach at the Hibbing Airport in Northern Minnesota. All 16 passengers and 2 crew members died.
The plane was a twin-engine turboprop Jetstream 31 regional aircraft. It departed late from Minneapolis due to landing bulbs being changed on the landing gear and also for being overweight. They had to remove a passenger before taking off. Imagine being that person who narrowly escaped death.
The investigation found that pilot and crew errors were to blame for the crash. They were able to recover the cockpit flight voice recorder. In it, they showed that the pilot was berating his young co-pilot. He also had a history of angry outbursts and failed certifications. The combination of mistakes and his attitude towards his co-pilot led to a breakdown of crew coordination. The pilots had begun their descent too early and failed to be aware of their altitude. The plane crashed into trees and two ridges outside of the airport.
I remember seeing it reported on the news. I was living on the Iron Range, and it didn't take place far from where I lived. It greatly affected the Iron Range community.
30 years later, it still remains the deadliest aviation crash in Minnesota history.