Remembering Aloha Airlines Flight 243: A Plane that Lost Its Roof at 24,000 Feet But Managed to Land

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How heroic Aloha Airlines Flight 243 pilots Managed to Land Boeing 737-297 that Lost Its Roof at 24,000 Feet

WORST PLANE STRUCTURE FAILURES – Air Crash Investigation Plane Crash

It’s been 31 years since the Aloha Airlines flight 243 tragedy in the skies. On April 28, 1988, Aloha Airlines Flight 243 was a scheduled Aloha Airlines flight between Hilo and Honolulu in Hawaii.

The Flight was just another routine interisland flight. Cruising at 24,000 feet, an 18-foot section of the plane’s roof suddenly ripped off, causing an explosive decompression, creating a gaping hole in the fuselage and sucking a flight attendant out of the plane.

The Boeing 737 landed safely at Kahului Airport on Maui, but it goes down as one of the most significant events in aviation history.

Today marks 31 years since that deadly Aloha Airlines flight 243 accident that killed the 58-year-old flight attendant, Clarabelle Lansing, whose body was never found.

More than 60 of the 89 passengers aboard were also injured, eight of whom suffered serious injuries.

A National Transportation and Safety Board investigation later revealed that the incident may have been caused by the plane’s old age and poor maintenance. It also found that Aloha Airline’s short flights meant that its planes should have received maintenance twice as often as they had.

A visual inspection of the fleet after the accident revealed problems with the exterior of almost every plane. Two aircraft were scrapped as a result, along with the plane involved in the April 28 accident.

WORST PLANE STRUCTURE FAILURES – Air Crash Investigation Plane Crash
Details of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 Incident

Flight 243 departed with six crew members and 89 passengers on board, bound for Honolulu. After a routine takeoff and ascent, the aircraft had reached its normal flight altitude of 24,000 feet (7,300 m), when at around 13:48, about 23 nautical miles (43 km; 26 mi) south-southeast of Kahului on the island of Maui, a small section on the left side of the roof ruptured with a “whooshing” sound.

The captain felt the aircraft roll to the left and right, and the controls went loose; the first officer noticed pieces of grey insulation floating above the cabin.

The cockpit door had broken away and the captain could see “blue sky where the first-class ceiling had been.”

The resulting explosive decompression had torn off a large section of the roof, consisting of the entire top half of the aircraft skin extending from just behind the cockpit to the fore-wing area, a length of about 18.5 feet (5.6 m).

Co-pilot Tompkins was flying the aircraft when the incident occurred; Captain Schornstheimer took over and steered the aircraft toward the closest airport, on Maui island.

Thirteen minutes later, the crew performed an emergency landing on Kahului Airport’s Runway 2.

Upon landing, the aircraft’s emergency evacuation slides were deployed and passengers quickly evacuated from the aircraft.

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