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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.
  • Tue 10/17
  • 4:00PM-5:00PM
  • 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 10/17
  • 5:00PM-6:00PM
  • 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.
  • Tue 10/17
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

High Rise Catastrophe

S09, E01  (First Aired: Oct. 15, 2017)
A large cargo jet slices into an apartment complex in Amsterdam and reveals a potentially lethal problem threatening every 747 in the sky.
  • Tue 10/17
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 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.
  • Tue 10/17
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

High Rise Catastrophe

S09, E01  (First Aired: Oct. 15, 2017)
A large cargo jet slices into an apartment complex in Amsterdam and reveals a potentially lethal problem threatening every 747 in the sky.
  • Wed 10/18
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 10/18
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 10/18
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 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 10/18
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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.
  • Thu 10/19
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Thu 10/19
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Death and Denial

(First Aired: Feb. 21, 2016)
The worst air crash in Egypt's history.
  • Thu 10/19
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

High Rise Catastrophe

S09, E01  (First Aired: Oct. 15, 2017)
A large cargo jet slices into an apartment complex in Amsterdam and reveals a potentially lethal problem threatening every 747 in the sky.
  • Thu 10/19
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 10/20
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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.
  • Fri 10/20
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Fri 10/20
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 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.
  • Sat 10/21
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Sat 10/21
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

High Rise Catastrophe

S09, E01  (First Aired: Oct. 15, 2017)
A large cargo jet slices into an apartment complex in Amsterdam and reveals a potentially lethal problem threatening every 747 in the sky.
  • Sat 10/21
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 10/22
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Focus

NEW
S09, E02 
When a 737 careens off the runway in Indonesia, investigators uncover a shocking explanation for the crash.
  • Sun 10/22
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 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 10/23
  • 8:00AM-9:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 10/23
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Mon 10/23
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 10/24
  • 4:00PM-5:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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 10/24
  • 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.
  • Tue 10/24
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Tue 10/24
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 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.
  • Tue 10/24
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Wed 10/25
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Wed 10/25
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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.
  • Wed 10/25
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 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.
  • Wed 10/25
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Thu 10/26
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Thu 10/26
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 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 10/26
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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 10/26
  • 10:00PM-11:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Fri 10/27
  • 1:00AM-2:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 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.
  • Fri 10/27
  • 6:00PM-7:00PM
  • 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.
  • Fri 10/27
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 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.
  • Sat 10/28
  • 2:00AM-3:00AM
  • 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.
  • Sat 10/28
  • 3:00AM-4:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Sat 10/28
  • 1:00PM-2:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  • Sun 10/29
  • 7:00PM-8:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

Fatal Delivery

NEW
S09, E03 
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.
  • Sun 10/29
  • 8:00PM-9:00PM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD
  •  
  • 11:00PM-12:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 10/30
  • 8:00AM-9:00AM
  • 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.
  • Mon 10/30
  • 9:00AM-10:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD

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.
  • Mon 10/30
  • 10:00AM-11:00AM
  • 163
  • SMITH
  •  
  •  
  • 780
  • SMTHHD