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


An American Airlines DC-10 jumbo jet bound for Los Angeles from Chicago crashed moments after takeoff Friday from O'Hare Airport, killing all 272 persons on board and perhaps two more on the ground in the worst air disaster in U.S. history.
The jetliner, Flight 191, was filled with Memorial Day holiday travelers and a number of publishers and three Playboy magazine editors enroute to a West Coast convention. It crashed into a field near Elmhurst Road and Touhy Avenue and exploded on impact just east of a mobile home park and only 500 yards from the huge Standard Oil Co. petroleum tank farm in Elk Grove Township.
The plane, scheduled for departure at 2:45 p.m., took off under cloudless skies and apparently lost its left engine upon takeoff, banking uncontrollably as it attempted to gain altitude, eyewitnesses said. The craft rolled over and crashed nose down into the field, bursting into a ball of flame and sending a wave of intense heat, fire and smoke shooting into the air.
An FAA spokesman said the plane reached an altitude of 500 to 600 feet before plummeting into a dive. The plane's landing gear was still down when it crashed.
The tremor was felt as far as a mile away. Debris and bodies from the wreckage were strewn a quarter-mile around the impact site where the jumbo jet virtually disintegrated.
Cook County Sheriff's Police spokeswoman BETSY BARSTEAD said two persons were believed to be killed in a nearby construction hut, but firefighters were not immediately able to extract the victims. Their identities were not known.
The crash is the worst aviation disaster in the nation's history, surpassing the crash eight months ago in San Diego when a PSA jetliner collided with a private plane, killing 151 persons.
Firefighters, police and emergency vehicles from Chicago and surrounding suburbs arrived on the scene and began evacuating residents of the Touhy Mobile Home park only yards from the burning wreckage. Three trailers caught fire after being hit by burning metal parts and several businesses operating near and in the field were demolished, including an airplane parts warehouse and a construction hut owned by Courtney-Velo Excavating Co., where two more bodies were found. One of the victims in the hut was believed to be an employee of the company.
Two other company employees were badly burned when fuel from the DC-10 showered onto the old airplane hangar where they were working. They are ANDREW S. BELLAVIA, 46, of 387 S. Jeffrey Ln., Wheeling, and RICHARD MASKERI, 28, of 1510 N. Valley Lake Dr., Schaumburg.
Another man in the building escaped without injury.
BELLAVIA, with burns over more than 50 percent of his body, was taken to the Loyola Medical Center burn unit in Maywood where he is in serious condition. MASKERI was admitted to Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village where he was listed in good condition.
"It could have been even worse," Elk Grove Village Fire Lt. R. L. HOHMAN said. "If that plane had hit those gasoline storage tanks, we would have had a fire that would have burned for three or four days and destroyed this whole area.
The powerful explosion ripped the jet apart and dismembered most of the victims. Crash investigators pushed hundreds of wooden stakes into the ground to mark the locations of arms, legs and torsos.



The Sutton Family of Wilmette, Il.

The persons listed as "Sutton (with party of three)" should be listed as Stephen Sutton, 38, Carolyn Sutton, 38, and their children Colin, 9, & Christopher, 7, of Wilmette, Il. I attended Logan Elementary with those boys and they were good kids.


You are very lucky that you did not get on that plane. My neighbor was killed as well as couple more ppl from my town of Momence, IL. So very sad and my thoughts/prayers are still with the families of these victims. I do remember being scared after I heard about this and I was only 10 at the time.

Information on Ms. R. DeYoung


If you go to Bing and type in the following:

American Airlines flight 191
scroll down to the bottom and on the 8th row from the bottom is a picture of the memorial wall with Ms. R. DeYoung and someone has slid a color photo of this pretty girl into the brick.

Please let me know if this confirms or is not your friend, I would be interested. I just happened to be looking at the memorial wall and remembered this picture.


Fly 191

Passenger Elaine Howell was from Hurricane, WV

My father had a ticket for

My father had a ticket for flight 191 - he and a friend were on their way from Columbus, OH to LA. They were offered a deal like the one you mentioned in order to take a later flight, which they took. I believe they spent the $100 in the airport bar. They didn't find out until they got to LA that the flight they were meant to be on had crashed. It took my Mother something like 12 hours to discover that he was not on the flight.

Name misspelling

One name listed was my friend Mr. R. Olmiceli. It should be Mr. Robert DiMiceli.

I just came across this web

I just came across this web site. Nice for families and friends to talk about their loved ones. Gordon was a huge part of my life in high school. Thought we'd end up married. We both went our separate ways. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and my brother. The 2 men I loved with all my heart being taken away in such horrific plane crashes Another Anniversary tomorrow. Love you Gordee. Rest in peace !

Remembering Timothy (Tim) Malone 35 years ago on 5/25/2014

From the 1980 St. John's School for the Deaf yearbook dedication page:

In Memory of Timothy Malone

Timothy Malone died in Chicago last May 25, 1979 in the Crash of Flight 191. He was on the way home to Golitha, California for summer vacation.

He was known as the "Sport Watcher". When we wanted to know any kind of sports' score or players or teams' name, he always had the answer.

He was looking forward to being a Freshman in High School. He entered St. John's in September, 1970. Let's remember him in our prayers.


You were a kind soul, Tim Malone, and I will remember you always!

Peter G. Keller
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

I'll never forget May

I'll never forget May 25,1979. I had just gotten home from work and turned on the television to the news which was broadcasting the crash uh iof America Airlines jet in Chicago. I'm from California and thought how horrible and I couldn't possibly know anyone on that plane. I remember I called out to my mom who had also walked in the door from work. I told her of the crash and she immediately started to pray for my brother "Raymond" who was returning home from Africa were he was stationed as an Embassy Guard for the USMC and had flown into Washington DC before catching a flight home for the holiday weekend. My brother was on a standby flight. He did get a seat on the ill fated flight 191. My life changed on May 25,1979. There isn't a day that goes by I don't think what my brother's life would of been like. He was a "Great Person". He was the light in our home. His death changed my family's dynamics. I don't feel AA handle this tragedy very well. I was very happy to hear a memorial was dedicated to the victim's of flight 191. I'm planning on visiting the memorial this year. It's going on 35yrs and i still think of you my beloved brother "Raymond L.Griego". Love you always!!!

Mr. S. Spinia

Mr.S. Spinia should be Mr. Sal Spina, Long Beach, Ca.