Delta Air Lines Flight 191

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Delta Air Lines Flight 191
DateAugust 2, 1985
TypeMicroburst-induced Wind shear
SiteDallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Texas
Fatalities135 (1 on the ground)
Aircraft typeLockheed L-1011-385-1 TriStar
OperatorDelta Air Lines
Tail numberN726DA
Flight originFort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
StopoverDallas-Fort Worth International Airport
DestinationLos Angeles International Airport

Delta Air Lines Flight 191 was an airline service from Fort Lauderdale, Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, bound for Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, by way of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. On the afternoon of August 2, 1985, Delta Air Lines flight 191 crashed while on approach to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, killing 8 of 11 crew members and 126 of the 152 passengers on board and one person on the ground: a total of 135 deaths. This accident is one of the few commercial air crashes in which the meteorological phenomenon known as microburst-induced wind shear was a direct contributing factor.


The airplane used on that day was N726DA, a Lockheed L-1011-385-1 TriStar, a workhorse in Delta's fleet at the time. The flight was piloted by Captain Edward Conners, First Officer Rudolph Price and Second Officer Nick Nassick.


NTSB map indicating locations of passengers according to lack of injury, types of injuries, and deaths

As the aircraft flew over Louisiana, a thunderstorm formed directly in its path. The aircraft began its descent procedures over Louisiana, heading over the planned descent route. Captain Conners then recognized the forming thunderstorm and took action to change the plane's heading to avoid the turbulent weather.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, weather was also poor and an Isolated thunderstorm developed near DFW. The Captain and copilot noticed the isolated storm ahead, but decided to proceed through it anyway which resulted in the aircraft getting caught up in a microburst.

At about 1500 feet above ground level (460 m), First Officer Price reported seeing lightning in one of the clouds ahead.

At 800 feet (240 m) above ground level, the aircraft airspeed accelerated without crew intervention. Although it was supposed to land at 149 knots IAS (276 km/h), it accelerated instead to 173 knots IAS (320 km/h). Price tried to stabilize the aircraft's speed, but Conners had recognized the aircraft's speed increase as a sign of wind shear, and he warned Price to watch the speed. Suddenly, the airspeed dropped from 173 to 133 knots IAS (320 to 246 km/h), and Price pushed the throttles forward, giving temporary lift. The airspeed then suddenly dropped to 119 knots IAS (220 km/h); on the cockpit voice recording Conners can be heard saying "Hang on to the son of a bitch!"

When Price tried to avoid a stall by pushing the nose down, the aircraft's vertical speed increased to 1,700 ft/min (520 m/min) before it came into contact with the ground.

Delta Flight 191 first impacted the ground on a field about 6,300 feet north of the approach end of runway 17L and bounced back into the air, then, while crossing State Highway 114, it came down again on top of a vehicle, killing its occupant. The aircraft skidded onto the airfield, collided with two 4-million US gallon (15,000 m³) water tanks at a speed of 220 knots, and exploded into flames. Most of the survivors of Flight 191 were located in the rear section of the aircraft which broke free from the main fuselage before the aircraft hit the water tanks.

Most of the survivors sat in the smoking section. One crash fatality gave birth to a child who later died. Authorities took most of the survivors to Parkland Memorial Hospital.[1]


After a lengthy investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board deemed the cause of the crash to be attributable to pilot error, combined with extreme weather phenomena associated with microburst-induced wind shear.[2]

The crash of Delta Flight 191 was later the subject of a television movie called Fire and Rain.

The crash of Delta Flight 191 was also shown on an episode of When Weather Changed History on The Weather Channel.

The crash of Delta Flight 191 was also shown on an episode of Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic.


  • Don Estridge, known to the world as the father of the IBM PC, was killed aboard this flight along with much of the IBM executive team responsible for that project. The loss arguably put IBM at a competitive disadvantage against competitors such as Compaq. Since that accident, IBM's corporate travel policy has prohibited more than two company executives travelling on the same commercial airline flightTemplate:Fact.
  • Russ Kerr and William Pugh, both high-level managers with the Chevron Corporation, also died in the crash

See also


  1. ^ ""Like a Wall of Napalm." TIME. 1.
  2. ^ Template:Cite news

External links

Coordinates: Template:Coor dms