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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.
  • Thu 4/19
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Hidden Danger

S05, E17  (First Aired: Apr. 10, 2016)
After getting lost in a storm, a plane crash-lands in Guam.
  • Thu 4/19
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Panic Over the Pacific

S05, E18  (First Aired: Apr. 17, 2016)
A miraculous rescue is launched after a 747 plummets toward the Pacific.
  • Fri 4/20
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Terror in Paradise

S05, E10  (First Aired: Apr. 12, 2015)
A seven-minute island-hop from Moorea to Tahiti ends in disaster.
  • Fri 4/20
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 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.
  • Sun 4/22
  • 3:30PM-4:30PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Speed Trap

S05, E02  (First Aired: Feb. 15, 2015)
A deadly midair collision between a commercial airliner and a F-4 Phantom reveals a lack of communication.
  • Sun 4/22
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Mon 4/23
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Titanic in the Sky

S05, E11  (First Aired: Sep. 20, 2015)
An emergency landing is forced by pilots after an engine explodes.
  • Mon 4/23
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
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Hanging By a Thread

S04, E16  (First Aired: Sep. 13, 2015)
A roof tears off a plane at 24,000 feet in the sky of an Aloha Airlines 737.
  • Mon 4/23
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Out of Sight

(First Aired: May. 4, 2007)
A 1986 midair crash between planes near Los Angeles brings attention to disturbing congestion at airports.
  • Mon 4/23
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Fog of War

(First Aired: May. 31, 2007)
A U.S. military plane crashes in Croatia in 1996.
  • Tue 4/24
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Getting Out Alive

S05, E09  (First Aired: Apr. 5, 2015)
Air accident survival stories; keeping passengers and crews alive when disaster strikes.
  • Tue 4/24
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Split Decision

S03, E10  (First Aired: May. 5, 2013)
Arrow Air Flight 1285 with 248 American soldiers on board crashes seconds after refueling in Newfoundland.
  • Tue 4/24
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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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.
  • Wed 4/25
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 4/25
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Vertigo

(First Aired: Oct. 2, 2016)
An examination of the crash over the Red Sea in January 2004.
  • Wed 4/25
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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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 4/26
  • 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 4/26
  • 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 4/26
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Ghost Plane

(First Aired: Jun. 28, 2007)
Investigators try to solve the mystery of a plane whose captain and co-pilot are missing.
  • Thu 4/26
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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.
  • Fri 4/27
  • 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 4/27
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 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.
  • Sun 4/29
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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  • Mon 4/30
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 4/30
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 4/30
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Testing the Limits

(First Aired: Oct. 23, 2016)
The first-ever 767 plane crash in history: Lauda Air Flight 004.
  • Mon 4/30
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Vanishing Act

(First Aired: Mar. 20, 2015)
Investigators face a mystery when Varig Flight 254 disappears without a trace over the jungles of Brazil.
  • Tue 5/1
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Nowhere to Land

S03, E11  (First Aired: May. 12, 2013)
Pilots of TACA Flight 110 make a remarkable landing on a narrow levee, but investigators must find out why the engines in a brand new plane failed.
  • Tue 5/1
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
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  • 780
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  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
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  • 780
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Mistaken Identity

(First Aired: Aug. 9, 2015)
The captain of a Navy cruiser must quickly determine if an approaching plane is friendly.
  • Wed 5/2
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 5/2
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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.
  • Wed 5/2
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death and Denial

(First Aired: Feb. 21, 2016)
The worst air crash in Egypt's history.
  • Thu 5/3
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 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 5/3
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
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  • 780
  • SMTHHD