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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 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.
  • Sun 1/21
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 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.
  • Sun 1/21
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Disaster at Tenerife

NEW
S10, E03 
Two 747s collide on the runway of a small airport in the Canary Islands, resulting in history's deadliest air crash.
  • Sun 1/21
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 1/22
  • 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 1/22
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Edge of Disaster

S09, E07  (First Aired: Nov. 26, 2017)
Atlantic Airways Flight 670 careened off the runway and became engulfed in flames.
  • Mon 1/22
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Tue 1/23
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 1/23
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 1/23
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 1/23
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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 1/24
  • 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.
  • Wed 1/24
  • 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.
  • Wed 1/24
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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 1/24
  • 12:00PM-1:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cracks in the System

S02, E01  (First Aired: Jun. 17, 2012)
Chalk's Ocean Airways flight 101 crashes just after take-off from Watson Island in Miami on December 19, 2005, killing 20 people.
  • Wed 1/24
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/25
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/25
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 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.
  • Thu 1/25
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Target is Destroyed

S02, E02  (First Aired: Jun. 24, 2012)
During the Cold War, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a fighter jet when it violates Soviet airspace.
  • Thu 1/25
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Thu 1/25
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 1/26
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cruel Skies

S02, E03  (First Aired: Jul. 1, 2012)
The U.S. Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., and the importance of accurate weather forecasting to the aviation industry.
  • Fri 1/26
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Fri 1/26
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Sat 1/27
  • 12:00PM-1:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 1/28
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

NEW
S10, E04 
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Sun 1/28
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 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 1/29
  • 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 1/29
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Panic on the Runway

S02, E04  (First Aired: Jul. 8, 2012)
On August 22nd, 1985, 55 people died aboard British Airtours flight 28M when its engine catches fire as it accelerates.
  • Mon 1/29
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Alarming Silence

S02, E05  (First Aired: Jul. 15, 2012)
Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes shortly after take-off in Detroit in 1987 proving to be one of the worst aviation disasters in American history.
  • Tue 1/30
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 1/30
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

S10, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 28, 2018)
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Tue 1/30
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 1/30
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

S10, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 28, 2018)
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Wed 1/31
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cracks in the System

S02, E01  (First Aired: Jun. 17, 2012)
Chalk's Ocean Airways flight 101 crashes just after take-off from Watson Island in Miami on December 19, 2005, killing 20 people.
  • Wed 1/31
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Target is Destroyed

S02, E02  (First Aired: Jun. 24, 2012)
During the Cold War, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a fighter jet when it violates Soviet airspace.
  • Wed 1/31
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

S10, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 28, 2018)
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Wed 1/31
  • 12:00PM-1:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cold Case

S02, E06  (First Aired: Jul. 22, 2012)
Two similar plane crashes in Ontario and New York prompt an investigation which determines that the source of the crashes was due to a design flaw on the wings of the planes, both Fokker F28s.
  • Wed 1/31
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cruel Skies

S02, E03  (First Aired: Jul. 1, 2012)
The U.S. Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., and the importance of accurate weather forecasting to the aviation industry.
  • Thu 2/1
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Panic on the Runway

S02, E04  (First Aired: Jul. 8, 2012)
On August 22nd, 1985, 55 people died aboard British Airtours flight 28M when its engine catches fire as it accelerates.
  • Thu 2/1
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Cracks in the System

S02, E01  (First Aired: Jun. 17, 2012)
Chalk's Ocean Airways flight 101 crashes just after take-off from Watson Island in Miami on December 19, 2005, killing 20 people.
  • Thu 2/1
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Pilot vs. Plane

S02, E07  (First Aired: Jul. 29, 2012)
Air France Flight 296 fails to regain altitude after performing a flyby during an air show at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport.
  • Thu 2/1
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

S10, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 28, 2018)
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Thu 2/1
  • 9:00PM-10:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 2/2
  • 12:00AM-1:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

System Breakdown

S02, E08  (First Aired: Aug. 5, 2012)
Five aviation disasters and the changes they have forced air-traffic controllers to make.
  • Fri 2/2
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Target is Destroyed

S02, E02  (First Aired: Jun. 24, 2012)
During the Cold War, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a fighter jet when it violates Soviet airspace.
  • Fri 2/2
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Deadly Detail

S10, E04  (First Aired: Jan. 28, 2018)
After a seemingly routine landing, a Boeing 737 erupts in flames, putting 165 debarking passengers and crew in jeopardy.
  • Sat 2/3
  • 12:00PM-1:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD