Airplanes Collide For The First Time In A Major U.S. City - 12/16/1960

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Exactly on this day in 1960, two commercial planes crashed over New York City and claimed 134 lives of people who are on both planes and on the ground. The unforgettable mid-air collision is the only accident of such to have happened in a major city in U.S. history.

On that fateful day in New York, it was snowy when a United DC-8 from Chicago took off and heading towards John F. Kennedy International Airport in southern Queens. In addition, a TWA Super Constellation from Dayton, Ohio, was also moving towards LaGuardia Airport in northern Queens. Because of the snowy weather that morning, the united flight was put into a holding pattern. At the point when the pilot missed the location of the pattern, the plane came directly into the way of the TWA flight.

A total number of one hundred and twenty-eight people were on the two planes. One of the passengers, an eleven-year-old Stephen Baltz portrayed the scene: "It was like a photo in a comic magazine, and then out of the blue there came an explosion. The plane started falling quickly and people can be heard shouting. I clutched my seat and after that the plane crashed." At first, Baltz survived the crash however, he died of internal injuries the evening of the following day as well everyone on the planes.

The TWA crashed into Miller Field, a military airfield on Staten Island, while the united flight whose right engine caught fire and part of the wing blown away fell in the middle of Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Luckily, the plane narrowly missed St. Augustine's Academy but hit a building and the Pillar of Fire Church. Due to the explosion, dozens of houses around the neighborhood caught fire. A woman named Mrs. Robert Nevin who was in her apartment on the top floor of one of the buildings said, "The roof opened and I could see the sky."

The incident claimed the lives of six people, which include the 90-year old Wallace Lewis who is the caretaker of the church and two men who were in the area to sell Christmas trees. In fact, luggage and Christmas gifts belonging to the plane's passengers were seen scattered across the streets as firefighters tried putting off the fire that has engulfed the place for close to three days.

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Meg Wong

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