Reporting Brian Hackney
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — There have been 12 commercial airline crashes at San Francisco International Airport since it opened in 1927.
But one disaster stands out as eerily similar to Saturday’s deadly crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 — it’s the November 22, 1968 crash of a Japan Airlines DC-8 that also fell short of the runway.
After a journey of 5,000 miles, Japan Airlines Flight 2 fell 2 1/2 miles short of the runway at SFO and landed in San Francisco Bay off Coyote Point in ten feet of water.
Incredibly, the plane came to rest with its forward exits above the waterline and all 107 people aboard survived.
Weather was a factor in that crash as visibility was down to 300 feet and the pilot was making an instrument landing, one he had never tried before on a DC-8 at SFO.
While it will be months before investigators determine what caused the Asiana crash, in the 1968 case the resolution was quite simple. When questioned by the National Transportation Safety Board about what went wrong, the pilot said simply: “I (expletive) messed up.”
That DC-8 was plucked from the water, refurbished by United Airlines, and was flying again four months later — a fate that obviously will not be shared by Asiana’s Boeing 777.
Japan Airlines still flies to San Francisco, and ironically these days they fly the same 777 aircraft used by Asiana.
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