Planes Crash over New York City
Decades before the September 11th terrorist attacks, New York City saw another tragic event in its skies, when two airliners collided in mid-air over Brooklyn, weeks before Christmas
Two passenger planes – United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 – collided while they were making their descents toward Idlewild and LaGuardia on December 16, 1960, leaving a trail of carnage and flames in their wake. But out of the tragedy, a new era of airline safety measures was instigated, including the way flight recorders – commonly called black boxes – are used to investigate airline crashes.
A photoengraver, walking to his job on Brooklyn’s Park Slope, had his gaze drawn skyward by what seemed to be “a large bolt of lightning.” He saw the fuselage of an airliner smash into a row of Seventh Avenue brownstones.
A United Airlines DC8 jet and a Trans World Airlines Super Constellation propeller plane had collided over New York and bodies and debris fell all over the downtown area.
On that morning the two airliners were approaching New York City, and suddenly there was silence from both planes as the controllers at La Guardia and Idlewild, now John F. Kennedy, airports tried to establish contact.
The two aircraft had collided a mile above the city and debris and bodies plunged to the ground. Many of the 134 passengers and crew who lost their lives on that snowy New York morning were students returning to the city for the holiday. On the ground, six people were killed by falling debris.