I still remember it as vividly as any recent memory. 25 years ago today, August 2, 1985, it was just after 6pm in the evening and like most residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, I was just sitting down to dinner and watching the prime-time evening news.
At 18:05 (00:05+1 Z) a six year old Delta Airlines Lockheed L-1011-385-1 TriStar registration N726DA performing flight 191 from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was on a routine final approach to runway 17L, under the command of Captain Edward “Ted” Conners, with First Officer Rudolph Price and Second Officer Nick Nassick (yes, these were the days of three cockpit crew).
In a mere 38 seconds the plane crashed killing 135 people — 8 of 11 crew, 126 of the 152 passengers and one person William Hodge Mayberry while he was driving on Highway 114.
Along with the world, I watched with horror at the events unfolding, and those few survivors being taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital with its world famous burns unit, in down-town Dallas.
I was a recently arrived student at the University of Texas at Arlington, and did not have any transportation to travel those 35 miles to Dallas. With a lack of public transportation, I sat, in mute frustration, unable to respond to requests for blood donation.
It was an evening etched, nay burned, in to my memory.
25 years on, the scars on the fields north of runway 17L are erased, but memories remain; and most importantly, flights today are safer, all thanks to lessons learnt on that soggy darkened and thunderous evening.
In 30 minutes time at 0930 (1530Z), the Dallas-Fort Worth International airport will unveil a memorial to those involved in the horror 25 years ago — those who died, those who survived and those who rescued. The memorial is located at Founders Plaza, which, Bangalore Aviation readers will recall, is also one of the best locations in the world for plane spotting.