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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

Lost in Translation

S05, E03  (First Aired: Feb. 22, 2015)
The crash of a small commuter jet in Switzerland has plenty of clues but not enough concrete answers.
  • Thu 1/19
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Tragedy on the Potomac

S05, E04  (First Aired: Mar. 1, 2015)
A plane plunges into the frozen Potomac River in 1982.
  • Thu 1/19
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/19
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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.
  • Thu 1/19
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 1/20
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
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  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Lost in Translation

S05, E03  (First Aired: Feb. 22, 2015)
The crash of a small commuter jet in Switzerland has plenty of clues but not enough concrete answers.
  • Fri 1/20
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Tragedy on the Potomac

S05, E04  (First Aired: Mar. 1, 2015)
A plane plunges into the frozen Potomac River in 1982.
  • Fri 1/20
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 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.
  • Sat 1/21
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Under Pressure

S03, E07  (First Aired: Apr. 14, 2013)
On July 11, 1991, the crew of Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 unsuccessfully tries to return to the airport after a burst tire creates an in-flight fire which causes 247 Nigerian pilgrims and 14 crew to perish.
  • Sat 1/21
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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 1/21
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 1/22
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
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  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

The Death of JFK Jr.

NEW
S08, E03 
When John F. Kennedy Jr.'s Piper Saratoga crashed in 1999, the NTSB faces enormous pressure to find the wreckage and the cause.
  • Sun 1/22
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

The Invisible Plane

S03, E08  (First Aired: Apr. 21, 2013)
SAS Flight 686 takes off from Milan's Linate Airport and moments later collides with a Cessna on the runway.
  • Mon 1/23
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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.
  • Mon 1/23
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Tue 1/24
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Vanished

S04, E13  (First Aired: Aug. 31, 2014)
Air France Flight 447 vanishes over the Atlantic in 2009.
  • Tue 1/24
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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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.
  • Wed 1/25
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Queens Catastrophe

S05, E05  (First Aired: Mar. 8, 2015)
A plane crash in New York just two months after 9/11.
  • Thu 1/26
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/26
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/26
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/26
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 1/27
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 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.
  • Fri 1/27
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Fri 1/27
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Getting Out Alive

S05, E09  (First Aired: Apr. 5, 2015)
Air accident survival stories; keeping passengers and crews alive when disaster strikes.
  • Sat 1/28
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

The Invisible Plane

S03, E08  (First Aired: Apr. 21, 2013)
SAS Flight 686 takes off from Milan's Linate Airport and moments later collides with a Cessna on the runway.
  • Sat 1/28
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 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 1/28
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 1/29
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Concorde: Up in Flames

NEW
S08, E04 
An Air France Concorde crashes into a Paris hotel after takeoff on July 25, 2000.
  • Sun 1/29
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Bad Attitude

S03, E09  (First Aired: Apr. 28, 2013)
Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 crashes shortly after take off from London Stansted Airport on December 22, 1999.
  • Mon 1/30
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 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 1/30
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Tue 1/31
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fight to the Death

S05, E01  (First Aired: Feb. 8, 2015)
A poisonous cockpit may have caused the 1972 crash of British European Airlines Flight 548.
  • Tue 1/31
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 2/1
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD