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.



Correction to Mrs J. Beam

Mrs Jeanette (Lavanway) Bean

My best friend, Richard J.

My best friend, Richard J. White, was on Flight 191 returning home to Anaheim from a business trip in Chicago. His wife was eight months pregnant with his first child. He never got to see and cherish his beautiful daughter.

R. Griego

"R. Griego" was Raymond Griego. He was in the United States Marine Corps stationed in Washington, D.C. He grew up in Hacienda Heights, California. He was a 1974 graduate of Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights. He was a great guy and was coming home on leave to propose to his girlfriend. He was on standby for the flight and called home just before takeoff to tell his family that he was lucky and caught a flight home early.

Rest in Peace, Ray, and all who lost their lives that fatefull day.

I will never forget that day

I will never forget that day I got the phone call that my grandfather died on that plane crash. I was only 9 years old. Although it's been a long time, I still feel that grief...

Further information for Ms. J. Bennett

The passenger listed as Ms. J. Bennett was Ms. Judith Bennett, president of Life Crisis Counseling clinic. She was senior editor of Forum, the International Journal of Human Relations, and was on a prepublication publicity trip for her book Sex Signs: every Woman's Astrological and Psychological Guide to Love, Men, Sex, Anger and Personal Power. Ms. Bennett was traveling with Victoria Haider, Judith Wax and Sheldon Wax to Los Angeles for the American Booksellers Association Convention. Her 2 children, Anina and Nicky, were not on the flight.

Ms. J. Bennett

The passenger listed as Ms. J. Bennett is Judith Bennett. She was a therapist, senior editor of the magazine Forum, the International Journal of Human Relations and the author of a book called Sex Signs: Every Woman's Astrological and Psychological Guide to Love, Men, Sex, Anger and Personal Power. The book was almost completed and she was on the way to the American Booksellers Association convention in Los Angeles. She may have been traveling with Sheldon and Judith Wax. She had 2 children, Anina and Nicky, but they were not on the flight.

Gordon Conway McAtee from

Gordon Conway McAtee from Santa Barbara Ca was 27 years old.

it always saddens me

it always saddens me gordon's name is missing from most of these lists but he was notorious for being late for his flight. gordon conway mcatee of santa barbara ca was 27. his remains were recovered days into the investigation and returned to his family. he was buried near his parents in west lake ca. i still think of him every day.

S. Clark should be listed as

S. Clark should be listed as Stephen Michael Clark he was my husbands grandfather. Thank you so much for posting the passenger list. We had such a hard time finding it when we were searching for information on the crash.

Hi, The full name for Dr.


The full name for Dr. D. Forstrom is Dr. Richard Forstrom of Minneapolis, MN.

Thank you!!