Deadly Plane Roof Blew Off at 24,000 Feet
Flying on an airplane is already a pretty stressful experience for many of us but imagine how much more stressful it would be if the plane you were flying in was a convertible and the pilots decided to drop the top back mid-flight an entire list of pretty bad things would probably end up happening to you and I assume that you would most likely not have a good time fortunately for you
This will probably never happen again but unfortunately for some of the unluckiest 95 people to have ever existed something like this actually did happen once upon a time back in the distant past of 1988 Aloha Airlines used to be a company that operated out of Honolulu and serviced the major Hawaiian airports with connections to the US and Canadian west coasts
Aloha Airlines flight 243 happened to be a regularly scheduled short flight between Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii and Honolulu on the 28th of April in 1988 the plane that was servicing the route was a Boeing 737 297 nothing unusual was noted during the pre-departure inspection and the plane had already completed three round-trip flights
that day so everything was lining up to be just another routine flight over to Honolulu the captain on board was a 44 year old veteran with 8,500 flight hours while the first officer was also a highly experienced 36 year old with 8,000 flight hours in total there were six crew members and 89 passengers on board and all of them were unknowingly in for one of the wildest experiences that a human has probably ever had
the plane performed a routine takeoff from Hilo and casually reached its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet but approximately 23 minutes after takeoff while the plane was located about 23 nautical miles away from the island of Maui bad things began to happen drinks were just being served in the first-class area.
when everybody heard a sudden bang and just like that the entire roof of the planes stretching from the back of the cockpit to the plane’s wing just disintegrated and went flying off into the atmosphere fifty four-year-old flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing was handing a drink to a customer when the rushing wind immediately pulled her up and out of the plane without any protection.
Her body was never discovered afterwards fortunately though everyone else on board were wearing their seat belts at the time which prevented any similar incidents from happening unfortunately
however was that falling out of the plane was not the only danger the remaining 94 people on board were exposed to a whirlwind of flying metal and debris left over from what had just been the roof passengers on board who look around 180 degrees around them and seen nothing but open sky a woman who is in c2c next to what had just been a window had her face sliced repeatedly by flying metal and flailing wires.
after hearing the bang and noticing the sudden change in cabin pressure the captain turned around to realize that not only had the cockpit door been completely ripped away but all he could see behind him was just a clear open blue sky where you know there used to be a roof fortunately though the two pilots were still capable of controlling the aircraft and they began an immediate descent in change of course to the nearest available airport.
over on Maui the plane began to violently yaw and roll while a lot of the metal from the roof had simultaneously flown into both of the engines causing engine number 1 to fail the crew couldn’t get it to restart and they had to rely on single-engine power before encountering the next problem.
the nearest airport on Maui was only a few minutes flying away but when the crew attempted to lower the landing gear they didn’t receive a positive green light indicating that it had been but they also didn’t receive a negative red light which would have indicated that it failed.
so they just kind of had to hope for the best that the landing gear actually had been successfully lowered meanwhile the passengers on board were obviously pretty terrified at first everybody just assumed that the plane was going down and that they were all going to die but after a while when that didn’t happen and the plane continued to keep flying without its roof many of the passengers reported.
they began to feel a sudden sense of optimism and hope still it took the plane to 13 more agonizing minutes of flying without a roof full of terrified people before it finally arrived at the airport on Maui and performed a successful landing with the landing gear deployed everybody remaining was successfully evacuated with sixty-five people being reported with injuries and eight of them with serious injuries.
including one who is in critical condition at the time complicating things however Maui Island had no infrastructure in place at the time to handle an emergency of this magnitude there were only two ambulances located on the entire island so air traffic controllers had to call a local tour company to scrape together several of their tour vans to come and transport everybody.
else that could have fit in the ambulances to the nearest hospital the aircraft itself was damaged well beyond repair and it was written off and dismantled where it landed and questions immediately arose as to how exactly a plane’s roof could just fly off midair so an investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the following is likely what happened the Boeing 737-200 Series in question was designed to have a service life span of 20 years and the plane involved in this disaster was 19 years old.
but that wasn’t really the problem though the bigger issue was at the 737 200 series was also designed for a life span of 75,000 flights this is because over time the number of pressurization and depressurization cycles that a plane goes through will begin to weaken his fuselage over time because this plane was being used exclusively for short trips between the various Hawaiian Islands it had racked up eighty nine thousand six hundred and eighty flights over its lifetime.
if you know your math is a lot more than it should have had metal fatigue and cracking likely occurred around the rivets of the fuselage over this time which wasn’t helped by the fact that all of these flights were taking place in the humid and salty coastal environment of Hawaii which likely led to corrosion issues as well none of these problems were ever detected by Aloha Airlines
so the NTSB placed the blame for the roof failure fully on the negligence of the aloha maintenance and management team after all if you’re running an airline company you should probably run the math on your plane’s lifespans every so often to avoid being known as that company that has the convertible airplane problem.
now I understand that the physics of how airplanes actually work are pretty complicated in order to get it you need to understand some essential concepts like trust the mechanism of lift or the contribution that wing-shaped will give I know all about these things though because I took brilliant physics of the everyday course which includes an entire section about airplane physics
now I know what you’re probably thinking airplanes engines wing shape and lift mechanics that all sounds pretty complicated but brilliant is the expert in teaching complex subjects simply through their fantastically designed courses they break down complicated concepts like how an airplane works into small easily digestible bits before building them all back up into the overall idea