Eastern Airlines Flight 401 was a Lockheed Tristar coming in to land in Miami. The landing gear was lowered, but the light that indicated the front gear had locked in place didn’t turn on. All three members of the cockpit crew: captain, first officer and engineering expert, were worried that the plane couldn’t land safely, and it was pitch dark out over Miami. The captain decided to circle around and try landing again, and programs the Tristar’s sophisticated auto-pilot to fly at 2,000 feet. Then, the plane circled over the Everglades to try landing in Miami again.
The trouble began when the three crew members were focused on the landing gear light, and then became frustrated. The captain then did something that changed everything: he turned around to speak to the engineering expert and tell him to go down to the “hell-hole” and see if the nose gear was locked in place or not. When he did that, he accidentally bumped the lever and disengaged the auto-pilot without noticing. The plane stopped maintaining 2,000 feet and began descending, but in the dark, and focused on the light, the crew didn’t notice. To make things worse, the warning alarm telling them the plane was beginning to go to low was in the engineering expert’s station, and he was still down in the “hell-hole,” trying to see if the gear was in place. The pilots didn’t notice the plane was going too low until it was too late; the plane crashed in the Everglades. The captain, engineering expert and some other passengers survived, but they suffered serious injuries, and the crash site was at a swamp – at night. A bacteria in the swamp also put many survivors in peril – they would have to spend time in a special oxygen chamber to get rid of the infection, or have the infected area amputated. The captain and engineering expert both died not long after the crash, which had happened because of distraction and a simple, unnoticed bump of the controls, causing the plane to slowly and stealthily crash itself. Furthermore, the only thing not working on the Tristar was a tiny, $12 lightbulb – the nose gear had been locked into place, and the plane could have landed.
But…there’s more. After the crash, some of Flight 401’s parts were still in good condition, so they were sent back to Eastern Airlines for use on other planes. And, it’s been said that on these planes with parts from Flight 401, people have had ghostly sightings – of the pilots who had passed away in the crash. These ghosts apparently were trying to protect the people on Eastern Airlines’ planes with parts from the one that had crashed, and warning them to avoid something happening to them. There were so many sightings like these that finally, the planes with Flight 401’s parts were put out of use.
Do you think that there were really ghosts from Flight 401? You can check out the full story on YouTube. Here is part one, to start with (You probably can watch all four parts uploaded, since at the end you can click on the “Up Next” or “Related Videos” since Part 2 has to be a “Related Video” to Part 1, and so on).
This came of the TV series Mayday, also known as Air Emergency or as uploaded here, Air Crash Investigation. Each episode is a re-inaction of a commercial plane crash, and then a step-by-step investigation until finally revealing how the plane crashed, and why. The episode about Flight 401 is titled Fatal Distraction. It can be sad, but also helps people to understand more about commercial aviation. Check out VibraciaX’s YouTube channel, where this YouTuber has uploaded a lot of the Mayday episodes (under the name Air Crash Investigation).
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