The crash of flight 212 comes into my consciousness from time to time. These days it’s usually Stephen Colbert who takes me back to that time. After Stephen became famous and I became a huge fan of his, I learned that he lost two brothers and his father in that deadly crash.
The crash was (and is) particularly poignant for me because my first husband and I were working for Eastern Airlines at the time, in Charlotte, where the doomed flight went down. I worked in reservations. My now ex-husband worked in the computer lab.
Flight 212 originated in Charleston, SC, landed briefly in Charlotte, NC, and continued to O’Hare in Chicago. Usually a number of passengers disembarked in Charlotte and made connections to destinations other than Chicago.
I remember that morning in September as if it were yesterday. Ironically, the crash occurred on September 11, in 1974. It was a foggy morning. Poor visibility. I remember a loud boom and a bit of a tremor. I wondered, “What on earth was that?” It was a few minutes later, in my car, when I heard the news on the radio. All I could think was, “No, no, no, no, no!”
Then, I couldn’t help asking myself, “Did I book any of those people on that flight?” Fortunately, I don’t know the answer to that question. Flight 212 was a busy and popular flight. Most reservations agents had booked someone at some time on 212. Best not to dwell on it.
The flight left Charleston with seventy-four people on board. Initially there were thirteen survivors. Later three of those thirteen died of severe burns. A co-pilot and a flight attendant were among the final ten survivors.
For days, then weeks, airline employees and others sifted through the sad traces of human life cut short. Some worked the morgue.
I write this piece to honor those workers. My husband was one of them. He worked tirelessly and without complaint. I don’t know if I ever thanked him. I do so now. Thank you, JDM.
NTSB probable cause statement:
The flight crew’s lack of altitude awareness at critical points during the approach due to poor cockpit discipline in that the crew didn’t follow prescribed procedure. Source: Wikipedia
What a sad, sad statement.