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Air Disasters

Cast of 'Air Disasters'

  • Bill Ratner

Air Disasters

Statistically, traveling by airplane is safer than driving and other forms of transportation, but when something goes wrong during a flight, it can be catastrophic with potentially hundreds of lives at stake. This series examines some of the world's worst air disasters, using official reports, transcripts and interviews with people involved to tell the stories of midair mishaps and discover what went wrong in each case. Episodes include a discussion of how the weather affects flights -- including stories of aviation disasters and near-misses -- and a New Year's Eve flight that fell from the sky into the Florida Everglades.

Premiere:
May 15, 2011
Original Network:
Smithsonian HD Network
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All Upcoming Times for Air Disasters

Episode Air Date Channel

No Clear Options

S08, E06  (First Aired: Feb. 19, 2017)
When a commuter turboprop plane crashes at an Irish airport, investigators uncover a startling gap in aviation safety.
  • Fri 2/24
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Attack Over Baghdad

S04, E15  (First Aired: Sep. 6, 2015)
A surface-to-air missile cripples a cargo plane after it takes off from Baghdad International Airport.
  • Fri 2/24
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Out of Control

S04, E14  (First Aired: Aug. 30, 2015)
A simple error years prior causes the deadliest single-plane crash in history.
  • Fri 2/24
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Helicopter Down

(First Aired: Feb. 14, 2016)
A helicopter carrying oil workers to an offshore drilling platform crashes.
  • Sat 2/25
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fight for Control

S04, E01  (First Aired: Apr. 27, 2014)
The emergency landing of a Reeve Aleutian Airlines plane over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Sat 2/25
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

No Clear Options

S08, E06  (First Aired: Feb. 19, 2017)
When a commuter turboprop plane crashes at an Irish airport, investigators uncover a startling gap in aviation safety.
  • Sat 2/25
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 2/26
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death in the Arctic

NEW
S08, E07 
An investigation of a charter plane that moves off course and goes down in Canada's far north.
  • Sun 2/26
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fire in the Hold

S04, E02  (First Aired: May. 4, 2014)
A plane crash into the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.
  • Mon 2/27
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death in the Arctic

S08, E07  (First Aired: Feb. 26, 2017)
An investigation of a charter plane that moves off course and goes down in Canada's far north.
  • Mon 2/27
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Tue 2/28
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Queens Catastrophe

S05, E05  (First Aired: Mar. 8, 2015)
A plane crash in New York just two months after 9/11.
  • Tue 2/28
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death and Denial

(First Aired: Feb. 21, 2016)
The worst air crash in Egypt's history.
  • Wed 3/1
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fight for Your Life

(First Aired: Aug. 23, 2015)
Three FedEx employees must regain control of their plane when a coworker attacks them in midair.
  • Thu 3/2
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Bomb on Board

(First Aired: Aug. 16, 2015)
In 1994 on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, a terrorist bombing requires a daring emergency landing.
  • Thu 3/2
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death and Denial

(First Aired: Feb. 21, 2016)
The worst air crash in Egypt's history.
  • Thu 3/2
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death in the Arctic

S08, E07  (First Aired: Feb. 26, 2017)
An investigation of a charter plane that moves off course and goes down in Canada's far north.
  • Thu 3/2
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 3/3
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fight for Your Life

(First Aired: Aug. 23, 2015)
Three FedEx employees must regain control of their plane when a coworker attacks them in midair.
  • Fri 3/3
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Bomb on Board

(First Aired: Aug. 16, 2015)
In 1994 on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, a terrorist bombing requires a daring emergency landing.
  • Fri 3/3
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death and Denial

(First Aired: Feb. 21, 2016)
The worst air crash in Egypt's history.
  • Sat 3/4
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fire in the Hold

S04, E02  (First Aired: May. 4, 2014)
A plane crash into the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.
  • Sat 3/4
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death in the Arctic

S08, E07  (First Aired: Feb. 26, 2017)
An investigation of a charter plane that moves off course and goes down in Canada's far north.
  • Sat 3/4
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 3/5
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Transmission

NEW
S08, E08 
  • Sun 3/5
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Caution to the Wind

S04, E03  (First Aired: May. 11, 2014)
A runway closed for construction.
  • Mon 3/6
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Transmission

S08, E08  (First Aired: Mar. 5, 2017)
  • Mon 3/6
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Tue 3/7
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Into the Eye of the Storm

S05, E06  (First Aired: Mar. 15, 2015)
Hugo, a Category 5 hurricane, threatens to rip a plane apart.
  • Tue 3/7
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Kid in the Cockpit

(First Aired: Feb. 28, 2016)
A pilot's decision to let his 15-year-old son fly has disastrous consequences on a commercial flight.
  • Wed 3/8
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Mistaken Identity

(First Aired: Aug. 9, 2015)
The captain of a Navy cruiser must quickly determine if an approaching plane is friendly.
  • Thu 3/9
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Helicopter Down

(First Aired: Feb. 14, 2016)
A helicopter carrying oil workers to an offshore drilling platform crashes.
  • Thu 3/9
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Kid in the Cockpit

(First Aired: Feb. 28, 2016)
A pilot's decision to let his 15-year-old son fly has disastrous consequences on a commercial flight.
  • Thu 3/9
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Transmission

S08, E08  (First Aired: Mar. 5, 2017)
  • Thu 3/9
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 3/10
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD