Episode 332:

I’m Phoebe Judge





Episode 332: I’m Phoebe Judge

On today's episode, Phoebe Judge tells Georgia and Karen the story of Northeast Airlines Flight 823.

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... Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Chongdong Zhu on Unsplash

Other Images:

A Douglas DC-6B Airplane—Jon Proctor (via Wikipedia)

Northeast Airlines Flight 823 Crash at Rikers Island (via Associated Press / Jacob Harris 1957)


"Northeast Airlines Flight 823 was a scheduled flight from New York City's LaGuardia Airport to Miami International Airport, Florida, which crashed shortly after takeoff on February 1, 1957. The aircraft operating the service was a Douglas DC-6 four-engined propeller airliner, registration N34954, which entered service in 1955.

While originally scheduled to depart at 2:45pm, delays due to snowfall pushed departure back to 6:01pm. At takeoff, with a nearly full complement of 95 passengers and 6 crewmembers (3 flight crew and 3 stewardesses), the plane weighed in at 98,575 pounds (44,713 kg), just 265 pounds (120 kg) below maximum takeoff weight. Despite some sliding of the nosewheel on snow-covered pavement, the airplane was cleared to take off via runway 04 (040° magnetic heading), departing to the northeast of the field.

After what was described as a normal takeoff roll, the aircraft lifted off. Upon establishing a positive rate of climb, the landing gear and wing flaps were retracted, and the engine power was reduced to the maximum except for takeoff (METO) setting. The aircraft was now gaining altitude, flying on instruments without outside visibility as it headed over Flushing Bay. While the aircraft's clearance instructed that it proceed northeast on a heading of 40° (runway heading), the airplane began a gradual turn to the left. When it had reached a heading of 285° (nearly due west), it overflew Rikers Island. Its altitude was insufficient to clear the trees on the island, and the aircraft crashed, coming to rest within 1,500 feet of the point of first impact. The duration of the flight from takeoff to crash was approximately 60 seconds. The crash resulted in 20 fatalities and 78 injuries among the passengers and several injuries but no fatalities among the crew..."

— Source: Northeast Airlines Flight 823 Wikipedia