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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

Getting Out Alive

S05, E09  (First Aired: Apr. 5, 2015)
Air accident survival stories; keeping passengers and crews alive when disaster strikes.
  • Tue 3/28
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Mayday Munich

S03, E02  (First Aired: Mar. 10, 2013)
A plane with members of the Manchester United football team crashes while heading home from Yugoslavia, killing 23 aboard.
  • Wed 3/29
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Miracle Escape

S05, E13  (First Aired: Mar. 13, 2016)
Passengers and crew escape a jet that skid off the runway before catching fire.
  • Thu 3/30
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Falling From the Sky

S05, E14  (First Aired: Mar. 20, 2016)
A British Airways flight to Australia in 1982 crashes into the Indian Ocean.
  • Thu 3/30
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Mayday Munich

S03, E02  (First Aired: Mar. 10, 2013)
A plane with members of the Manchester United football team crashes while heading home from Yugoslavia, killing 23 aboard.
  • Thu 3/30
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Miracle Escape

S05, E13  (First Aired: Mar. 13, 2016)
Passengers and crew escape a jet that skid off the runway before catching fire.
  • Fri 3/31
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Falling From the Sky

S05, E14  (First Aired: Mar. 20, 2016)
A British Airways flight to Australia in 1982 crashes into the Indian Ocean.
  • Fri 3/31
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Mayday Munich

S03, E02  (First Aired: Mar. 10, 2013)
A plane with members of the Manchester United football team crashes while heading home from Yugoslavia, killing 23 aboard.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Grand Canyon

S04, E06  (First Aired: Jun. 8, 2014)
The 1956 midair collision between two commercial planes over the Grand Canyon.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Sideswiped

S08, E01  (First Aired: Jan. 8, 2017)
A Boeing 737 leaving Panama City crashes into one of the most remote and treacherous jungles on the planet.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 2:00PM-3:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

The Final Push

S08, E02  (First Aired: Jan. 15, 2017)
Investigators try to find the cause of two similar air crashes that happened nearly 12 years apart.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 3:00PM-4:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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 4/1
  • 4:00PM-5:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Transmission

S08, E08  (First Aired: Mar. 5, 2017)
A runway collision at a small airport turns tragic when passengers cannot escape the burning aircraft.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 5:00PM-6:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Accident or Assassination

S08, E05  (First Aired: Feb. 12, 2017)
A plane carrying Mexico's interior minister crashes into Mexico City's financial district.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

The Death of JFK Jr.

S08, E03  (First Aired: Jan. 22, 2017)
When John F. Kennedy Jr.'s Piper Saratoga crashed in 1999, the NTSB faces enormous pressure to find the wreckage and the cause.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Concorde: Up in Flames

S08, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 29, 2017)
An Air France Concorde crashes into a Paris hotel after takeoff on July 25, 2000.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Terror in San Francisco

S08, E09  (First Aired: Mar. 12, 2017)
The 2013 crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco shocks the nation.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Transmission

S08, E08  (First Aired: Mar. 5, 2017)
A runway collision at a small airport turns tragic when passengers cannot escape the burning aircraft.
  • Sat 4/1
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Accident or Assassination

S08, E05  (First Aired: Feb. 12, 2017)
A plane carrying Mexico's interior minister crashes into Mexico City's financial district.
  • Sun 4/2
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 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.
  • Sun 4/2
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Titanic in the Sky

S05, E11  (First Aired: Sep. 20, 2015)
An emergency landing is forced by pilots after an engine explodes.
  • Sun 4/2
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Mon 4/3
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Concorde: Up in Flames

S08, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 29, 2017)
An Air France Concorde crashes into a Paris hotel after takeoff on July 25, 2000.
  • Mon 4/3
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Accident or Assassination

S08, E05  (First Aired: Feb. 12, 2017)
A plane carrying Mexico's interior minister crashes into Mexico City's financial district.
  • Mon 4/3
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Catastrophe at O'Hare

S04, E07  (First Aired: Jul. 20, 2014)
The 1979 crash in Chicago nearly grounded DC-10's forever.
  • Mon 4/3
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Terror in Paradise

S05, E10  (First Aired: Apr. 12, 2015)
A seven-minute island-hop from Moorea to Tahiti ends in disaster.
  • Tue 4/4
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

I'm the Problem

S03, E03  (First Aired: Mar. 17, 2013)
Moments before Pacific Southwest Flight 1771 crashes on a cattle ranch in California, gunshots are heard in the cabin.
  • Wed 4/5
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fire Fight

S05, E15  (First Aired: Mar. 27, 2016)
A mechanical problem aboard an Air Canada plane turns into an all-out emergency six miles in the air.
  • Thu 4/6
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Missed Approach

S05, E16  (First Aired: Apr. 3, 2016)
A plane crash lands in Guam after losing sight of the airport in a storm.
  • Thu 4/6
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

I'm the Problem

S03, E03  (First Aired: Mar. 17, 2013)
Moments before Pacific Southwest Flight 1771 crashes on a cattle ranch in California, gunshots are heard in the cabin.
  • Thu 4/6
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Choosing Sides

(First Aired: Mar. 6, 2015)
British Midland Flight 92 slams into Britain's busy M1 motorway and it seems like a rare case of dual engine failure, but investigators learn the real cause was a tragic misunderstanding.
  • Thu 4/6
  • 2:00PM-3:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fire Fight

S05, E15  (First Aired: Mar. 27, 2016)
A mechanical problem aboard an Air Canada plane turns into an all-out emergency six miles in the air.
  • Fri 4/7
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Missed Approach

S05, E16  (First Aired: Apr. 3, 2016)
A plane crash lands in Guam after losing sight of the airport in a storm.
  • Fri 4/7
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

I'm the Problem

S03, E03  (First Aired: Mar. 17, 2013)
Moments before Pacific Southwest Flight 1771 crashes on a cattle ranch in California, gunshots are heard in the cabin.
  • Sat 4/8
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Catastrophe at O'Hare

S04, E07  (First Aired: Jul. 20, 2014)
The 1979 crash in Chicago nearly grounded DC-10's forever.
  • Sat 4/8
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Choosing Sides

(First Aired: Mar. 6, 2015)
British Midland Flight 92 slams into Britain's busy M1 motorway and it seems like a rare case of dual engine failure, but investigators learn the real cause was a tragic misunderstanding.
  • Sun 4/9
  • 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.
  • Sun 4/9
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Mon 4/10
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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.
  • Mon 4/10
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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 4/10
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Sideswiped

S08, E01  (First Aired: Jan. 8, 2017)
A Boeing 737 leaving Panama City crashes into one of the most remote and treacherous jungles on the planet.
  • Mon 4/10
  • 8:00AM-9:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Focused on Failure

S04, E08  (First Aired: Jul. 27, 2014)
A DC-8's four engines flame out just miles from its destination.
  • Mon 4/10
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD