Chicago, IL Jumbo Jet Crashes On Take Off, May 1979

American Airlines Flight 191 Chicago.jpg Flight 191 Chicago.png Flight 191 crash site.jpg

"It's one big mess," an Arlington Heights firefighter said. "It's very grim."
"The bodies are burned beyond recognition," Hoffman Estates firefighter ROBERT GORVETI said. "There's not one that's recognizable. They're broken up. I've seen burned bodies before, but nothing of this magnitude."
"It looks like a Vietnam battlefield after napalm," Hoffman Estates fire fighter DAVID BAIRD said.
Firefighters searching for bodies laid yellow body bags and wooden stakes beside the remains of the victims. "You can taste what you're doing back there," one firefighter said. "It stays in your mouth."
The bodies were being moved to a temporary morgue set up at an American Airlines hangar at O'Hare. A temporary communications post also was being set up at Elk Grove High School for relatives of victims.
Cardinal JOHN CODY and Chicago Mayor JANE BYRNE were on the scene. The archbishop said he administered a blessing over the remains.
"I said a prayer for all of them. It's a very tragic event. I offered a prayer we say for the dead and asked that the Lord have mercy on them." The cardinal said last rites of the Catholic Church were not administered because "they are not human forms."
Police quickly cordoned off the scene from the thousands of spectators who rushed to the crash. Some children reportedly sneaked through the police lines and ran off with pieces of the wreckage.
State trooper AL HAPACK said police would be on the crash scene for "at least the next three days" to guard the site.
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were on the scene as well as 30 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A 10-member unit called a Go-Team was dispatched by the NTSB in Washington to conduct the investigation, said EDWARD E. SLATTERY, a bureau spokesman. SLATTERY said the team should complete its on site work in 10 days to two weeks. The team is to be headed by ELWOOD DRIVER, vice chairman of the NTSB and a former airline pilot.
JOHN OTTO, FBI agent in charge of the Chicago office, said 30 agents were sent to the scene but added, "There is no evidence that this is a sabotage operation."
The plane's "black box" flight recorder of cockpit conversation was found "relatively intact," a spokesman said.
The plane's pilot was Capt. WALTER H. LUX from Tempe, Ariz. He was a native of Wisconsin who had been working for American Airlines since December 1950.
Police set up a command post at the Magee Chemical Co. across the street from the crash site to coordinate their operations.
"It's not even an airplane out there," one state trooper said. "There isn't even the fusilage."
Eyewitnesses said the three-engine plane trailed smoke from the left side before crashing.
"I heard the plane before I saw it," said PAILIE SPADAFINO, a resident of the mobile home park. "I was watering my lawn when I first saw it. After being in the Air Force, it reminded me of many crashes I've seen. I saw the plane start to roll and then it went on its back and when I see that -- a plane on its back -- its back is broken and it automatically goes down."



David Booth plane premonition

I heard that David Booth , the guy who had a series of bad dreams in May 1979 about an AA plane flying sideways and crashing after take off, was in the Univ. TN Hospital in Knoxville, TN a few years ago with heart trouble. Seems he later died from it. He and his wife were living somewhere near Knoxville, TN and The Great Smoky Mtns. National Park. He never had the specifics as to which plane or city it was where this plane crash dream was supposed to happen. I regret to this day of not telling anyone else but my friend not to be on that plane. Not many people are ever really certain about psychic visions, dreams and so forth to take it upon themselves to call the Airlines or the FAA. But evidently David Booth from Cincinnati, OH did several times. This whole event and the aftermath is like something out of The Twilight Zone to me.

I was only 10 years old but

I was only 10 years old but this was on our newspaper headlines in Texas, and I remember being horrified at the photo of the DC-10 almost upside down in midair. We see stuff like that on the Internet all the time thanks to Photoshop, but back then, that was a very haunting image. I think it was a huge reason the crash hit Americans particularly hard back then.

I didn't see the crash on TV. The only thing I remember about that week was tons of rain in Texas, and the Indy 500 being on TV just two days after the crash.

It's terrible that so many things went wrong and that corners were being cut in the AA maintenance department, but fortunately it appears a lot of good came out of that crash, and during the 1980s and early 1990s the FAA started taking its job very seriously.


They deserved every dime. That plane was serviced just 3 months prior MD effed up, costing people's death way too soon.

Your Dad

I and my family appreciates what your Dad did. He's alive. My family lost an amazing mother, sister, daughter, aunt and so many other things! My Aunt Carol was a Flight Attendant and died with everyone else. She left behind two small children (back then) 7 & 9. No longer had a Mom. Grateful for what your Dad did. Missing Carol M. Ohm all the time.

American Airlines May 251979 Crash

I was working At Arthur's Restaurant on Mt, Prospect Rd! The Plane Crashed and My Co Worker got a Phone Call from Her Husband who worked at AA Airlines and SAID ARE YOU OK?? THAT PLANE WENT OUT DEFECTIVE! HE KNEW BEFORE THE EXPERTS FOUND OUT! WOW!!!!

American Airlines Flight 191

One of the victims of Flight 191 Stephen or as my family knew him Steve Blake was a neighbor who lived a few houses down & across the street in North Hollywood Calif. about 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. A middle class neighborhood where we knew many of our neighbors & are still friends with some, though we all have moved from there. We moved to our home in 1958, I was 4. It was unusual in the early 1960s to have a single working mother, & that was Steves situation. They had one of the nicer houses on our street. I think Steves mom worked for a car dealership, she was pretty, always dressed well & drove nice cars. I'm not positive of Steves age, I'd say late 20s, early 30s in 1979 & as far as I remember single. Because he didnt go to the same schools as me or my 3 brothers he was a neighbor we knew but more of an acquaintance than close friend. He & his mother were very close, he was an only child. When I heard he was a victim of this tragedy I immediately thought of his mother losing her only child. I can still picture Steve & his mom, we had sold our home by 1979 though still had friends living there, I don't remember if his mom moved or how she handled her grief. Thank you for this site, everyone on that airliner were more than names on a list.

FLY 191

He was a wonderful, talented, charming man. There was more than one of us that planned to be Mrs. McAtee. I was his Berkeley era girlfriend. I miss him dearly even after nearly 40 years.

Flight 191 American Airlines overbooked flight

In regards to the young male passenger who was sitting across from you who take the offer to take the later flight (191). You stated you would never forget his face. Could you describe what he looked like. My brother was on that flight (191) on standby. My brother was only 22yrs with dark hair and about 5'6 . He was in the marine corp. I always wonder about the hours before he was killed.

Additional Name

I was reading Studs Terkel's, "American Dreams: Lost and Found," and he interviewed a Mildred Olmstead in one section. In a footnote at the end of her narrative, he noted that she was killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in Chicago. I wonder if her name had been changed for the book or if this is an oversight in the compiling of crash victims?

David Booth deceased

Several years ago I heard that David Booth, the guy who had the premonition of an American Airlines DC-10 plane crashing in a sequence of dreams, has died here in the Knoxville, TN area. I read that he was in the Univ. TN Hospital a few years ago with heart trouble and later died from it. He and his wife weren't living in Knoxville, but somewhere in Sevier County near the Great Smokies Nat'l Park. I never spoke to him but wanted to meet with him and discuss our similar visions and dreams of the Flight 191 crash.