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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

The Final Blow

S02, E09  (First Aired: Aug. 12, 2012)
An Air Inter flight crashes into the Vosges Mountains while attempting to land killing most of the 96 passengers.
  • Wed 6/20
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Carnage in Sao Paolo

S09, E04  (First Aired: Nov. 5, 2017)
TAM flight 402 slammed into a residential neighborhood and burst into flames, just seconds after lifting off from Congonhas airport in São Paulo, Brazil, killing all 95 people on board and three people on the ground.
  • Thu 6/21
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Deadly Delay

S09, E05  (First Aired: Nov. 12, 2017)
Almost immediately after taking off from Madrid International Airport, Spanair Flight 5022 banked to the right, slammed into a creek and burst into flames.
  • Thu 6/21
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Fatal Focus

S09, E02  (First Aired: Oct. 22, 2017)
When a 737 careens off the runway in Indonesia, investigators uncover a shocking explanation for the crash.
  • Thu 6/21
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Cleared for Disaster

S02, E10  (First Aired: Aug. 19, 2012)
An air traffic controller's mistake causes a Boeing 737 to land on a runway already occupied by another aircraft.
  • Thu 6/21
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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The Plane That Flew Too High

S02, E11  (First Aired: Aug. 26, 2012)
West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 crashes down killing 160 people in 2005 ultimately leading to the bankruptcy of the troubled airline.
  • Fri 6/22
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Fatal Delivery

S09, E03  (First Aired: Oct. 29, 2017)
The two-man crew of a UPS cargo jet must attempt an emergency landing when a fire in the cargo hold fills their cockpit with smoke.
  • Fri 6/22
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Carnage in Sao Paolo

S09, E04  (First Aired: Nov. 5, 2017)
TAM flight 402 slammed into a residential neighborhood and burst into flames, just seconds after lifting off from Congonhas airport in São Paulo, Brazil, killing all 95 people on board and three people on the ground.
  • Mon 6/25
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Deadly Delay

S09, E05  (First Aired: Nov. 12, 2017)
Almost immediately after taking off from Madrid International Airport, Spanair Flight 5022 banked to the right, slammed into a creek and burst into flames.
  • Mon 6/25
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Reputation

S02, E12  (First Aired: Sep. 2, 2012)
On July 17, 2007, TAM Airlines Flight 3054 slides off runway 35L at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, Brazil, and crashes at high speed into a warehouse adjacent to a petrol station killing nearly 200 people.
  • Tue 6/26
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Massacre Over The Mediterranean

S05, E07  (First Aired: Mar. 22, 2015)
An Italian passenger plane is blown out of the sky.
  • Tue 6/26
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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Steep Impact

S09, E06  (First Aired: Nov. 19, 2017)
When the crash of a commuter plane in Georgia killed a NASA astronaut, a four-term U.S. senator and 21 others, the disaster grabbed headlines around the world.
  • Wed 6/27
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Edge of Disaster

S09, E07  (First Aired: Nov. 26, 2017)
Atlantic Airways Flight 670 careened off the runway and became engulfed in flames.
  • Wed 6/27
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Blind Spot

S03, E01  (First Aired: Mar. 3, 2013)
In 1978, PSA Flight 182 collides with a Cessna and crashes into a San Diego residential area killing everyone on both planes and seven people on the ground.
  • Wed 6/27
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Deadly Mission

S09, E08  (First Aired: Dec. 3, 2017)
A new investigation sheds light on the controversial 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
  • Thu 6/28
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Deadly Silence

S10, E01  (First Aired: Jan. 7, 2018)
Investigators try to figure out why a private Learjet carrying golf legend Payne Stewart went rogue before crashing in a South Dakota hayfield.
  • Thu 6/28
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Steep Impact

S09, E06  (First Aired: Nov. 19, 2017)
When the crash of a commuter plane in Georgia killed a NASA astronaut, a four-term U.S. senator and 21 others, the disaster grabbed headlines around the world.
  • Thu 6/28
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 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 6/28
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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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.
  • Fri 6/29
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Edge of Disaster

S09, E07  (First Aired: Nov. 26, 2017)
Atlantic Airways Flight 670 careened off the runway and became engulfed in flames.
  • Fri 6/29
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Mission

S09, E08  (First Aired: Dec. 3, 2017)
A new investigation sheds light on the controversial 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
  • Mon 7/2
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Silence

S10, E01  (First Aired: Jan. 7, 2018)
Investigators try to figure out why a private Learjet carrying golf legend Payne Stewart went rogue before crashing in a South Dakota hayfield.
  • Mon 7/2
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Impossible Landing

S03, E04  (First Aired: Mar. 24, 2013)
A shocking look at the fate of United Airlines Flight 232 which crashed into Sioux City's runway in 1989 causing a subsequent explosion that left 111 people dead.
  • Mon 7/2
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Turning Point

S03, E05  (First Aired: Mar. 31, 2013)
A Northwest Airlines flight cruises above the Bering Sea before problems develop and pilots must make an emergency landing in Anchorage.
  • Tue 7/3
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Imperfect Pitch

S05, E08  (First Aired: Mar. 29, 2015)
A passenger plane plunges into the sea during an in-flight test.
  • Tue 7/3
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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The Pentagon Attack

S10, E02  (First Aired: Jan. 7, 2018)
The FBI and NTSB join forces to determine how terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and flew it into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
  • Wed 7/4
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Disaster at Tenerife

S10, E03  (First Aired: Jan. 21, 2018)
Two 747s collide on the runway of a small airport in the Canary Islands, resulting in history's deadliest air crash.
  • Wed 7/4
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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