Pan Am Flight 759 and 1 miracle

By: Patrap , 4:44 AM GMT on July 07, 2012

Pan Am Flight 759

"30 years ago today..a nightmare, has to be revisited.

We owe it to the lost..the weather involved, and the safety it eventually brought about to all US air travel."

Pan Am Flight 759

Pan Am Flight 759, operated by a Boeing 727-235, N4737 Clipper Defiance, was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Miami to Las Vegas, with an en route stop at New Orleans. On July 9, 1982 at 4:07:57 PM central daylight time, Flight 759, with seven crew members, one non-revenue passenger in the cockpit jumpseat, and 137 passengers (a total of 145 on board), began its takeoff from runway 10 at the New Orleans International Airport (now Louis Armstrong International), in Kenner, Louisiana.

At the time of Flight 759's takeoff, there were thunderstorms over the east end of the airport. The winds were gusty and swirling. Flight 759 lifted off the runway, climbed to an altitude of between 95 and 150 feet (29 and 46 m), and then began to descend. About 2,376 feet (724 m) from the end of runway, the aircraft struck a line of trees at an altitude of about 50 feet (15 m). The aircraft continued descending for another 2,234 feet (681 m), hitting trees and houses before crashing in the residential area of Kenner, La., about 4,610 feet (1405 m) from the end of the runway.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the aircraft's encounter with a microburst-induced wind shear during the liftoff, which imposed a downdraft and a decreasing headwind, the effects of which the pilot would have had difficulty recognizing and reacting to in time for the aircraft's descent to be stopped before its impact with trees.

Contributing to the accident was the limited capability of then-current wind shear detection technology; this, along with the similar crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 three years later led to the development of the airborne wind shear detection and alert system and the mandate by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration have on-board windshear detection systems installed by 1993.

A memorial to the crash victims is located at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kenner, Louisiana.

Then a miracle was found, ..revealed, Yelled about..cheered.

The aircraft was destroyed during the impact, explosion, and subsequent ground fire. A total of 153 people were killed (145 passengers and crew on board and 8 on the ground). Another 4 people on the ground sustained injuries.

In one of the destroyed houses, a baby was discovered in a crib covered with debris that protected her from the flames.

Six houses were destroyed; five houses were damaged substantially.

Shes a Mother..30 years later.

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13. Patrap
3:04 PM GMT on July 10, 2012
..the piper's calling you to join Him, dear lady can you hear the wind blow, and did you know?..your stairway lies on the whispering winds..

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
12. bayeloi
5:29 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Very nice blog. Thanks for posting this.
Member Since: August 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 23
11. Jonas
3:15 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Strong story . . . , well said. I cannot believe it has been thirty years, seems just a short while back.

Member Since: September 5, 2006 Posts: 343 Comments: 517
10. Patrap
3:03 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Indeed, when we go V2 and wheels up, we depend on them for making the right choices, sadly Pan Am 759 did not wait 10 min.

This entry wouldn't exist.

Thanx for stopping by.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
9. MAweatherboy1
2:59 PM GMT on July 09, 2012
Great blog Patrap... My dad's a pilot so I'm big into aviation... Amazing how much we've learned and advanced since then.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 93 Comments: 8900
8. Patrap
6:37 PM GMT on July 08, 2012
Thanx for stopping in an with some great History as well.

I was in the USMC Air Wing 80-86, and saw those improvements augment the U.S. Military Airfields as well.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
7. RickWPB
5:30 PM GMT on July 08, 2012
Hi Pat,

Thanks for reminding me of this very sad story. It was this accident and Delta 191 accident (in Dallas, TX) that got the FAA to seek a better way of detecting wind-shear and micro-bursts. That equipment is called the TDWR (Terminal Doppler Weather Radar). We get to view some of those sites around the country (the PPI scan mode) here on Wx Underground. I worked for the FAA here in West Palm Beach, FL for 31 years and the TDWR was a big improvement on detection. I helped install it in fact. When the TDWR detects severe Wx around the airport, it changes scans from PPI (plan position indicator) to a sector scan where it scans the severe Wx back and forth at varying altitudes using doppler detection. It's about 10% radar and 90% computer and sounds an alarm in the control tower. At least that's how it worked when I was still working there. I've been retired now for about 12 years.

For more information on the TDWR, Dr. Masters had a write-up on this HERE:

Member Since: September 26, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 414
6. GeorgiaStormz
5:02 PM GMT on July 08, 2012
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9897
5. Patrap
4:16 PM GMT on July 08, 2012
Pan Am jet crash in Kenner is remembered in new documentary
Published: Sunday, July 08, 2012, 2:00 AM Updated: Sunday, July 08, 2012, 10:28 AM

Evelyn Pourciau was brushing her dog when she heard the trees cracking and a jetliner sputtering. She looked up and saw a Boeing 727, tilted wing down, zoom past and crash to the ground. As it slid across Fairway Street, bodies scattered from the fuselage. "It looked like Hades had turned loose," Pourciau said, remembering a neighbor running, her burned skin hanging from her body like a "sheet of wax."

Pourciau's is one of several recollections featured in New Orleans filmmaker Royd Anderson's new documentary, "Pan Am Flight 759," which will be released Monday, the 30th anniversary of the doomed July 9, 1982, flight. Also on Monday, a memorial service, open to the public, will be held at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Kenner.

Pan American World Airways Flight 759 took off from what is now named Louis Armstrong International Airport in heavy thunderstorms for Las Vegas but crashed about one minute later in Kenner's Morningside Park subdivision a half mile east of the runway. All 146 people on board died along with eight people on the ground.

The dead included elderly people and young children, entire families, people going on vacation, people returning home. Many lived in Louisiana, but passengers hailed from all over the United States as well as Hong Kong, Uruguay, Switzerland, the Bahama Islands and other countries. At the time, the crash was the second worst air disaster in United States history. "This was a tragedy that struck around the world," Mark Larkin, a Civil Defense worker who responded to the scene, says in the film.

Anderson spent a year working on the film. He collected archival footage of the crash scene and interviewed first responders such as Larkin, witnesses, and relatives and friends of the dead.

Not anymore. The neighborhood of tidy, mostly one-story houses is thriving, with only a couple of lots still vacant. "You can hardly tell something awful happened in that neighborhood," Anderson said.
For the documentary, Anderson talked with Aaron Broussard, who was inaugurated as mayor of Kenner just eight days before tragedy struck. Broussard says his mission was to clean up the neighborhood as soon as possible. Bulldozers excavated three feet of soil to remove blood and jet fuel.
Evident throughout Anderson's 76-minute film is the way that hope can exist in the face of so much devastation. Larkin, the Civil Defense worker, was in the front yard of a destroyed home on Taylor Street when Jefferson Parish Deputy Sheriff Gerald Hibbs found 16-month-old Melissa Trahan alive under a mattress.
It is thought that her crib or bed had flipped over, trapping her under the mattress but protecting her from the fire, Larkin said. Dubbed "the miracle baby," Melissa was the only survivor in that house; her mother and 4-year-old sister were killed.
"It was an elating moment," Larkin says in the film, "because everyone's spirits were really low. ... That was beyond all expectations at that point to find somebody alive."

Anderson's film also highlights some significant aftereffects of the crash. The plane was forced down by a violent form of wind shear known as a microburst. The Pan Am crash helped spur research into wind-shear detecting technology, which has all but eliminated similar crashes. And Broussard, in his effort to "stop planes taking off over rooftops," worked out a revenue-sharing plan with St. Charles Parish so that the airport's east-west runway could be extended into the LaBranche Wetlands.

Perhaps the linchpin of the film is Anderson's moving interview with John Baye, a Kenner resident whose 6-year-old daughter, Lisa, was playing at a friend's house when the plane crashed. Baye describes his daughter's bubbly personality, saying "she never met a stranger" and remembering how she greeted him every day at the front door when he came home from work. "Daddy's home. Daddy's home," she exclaimed before excitedly recounting her day for him.

On the day of the crash, Baye heard a muffled explosion and looked out his window to see only fire. He got his other two children out of the neighborhood along with some neighbors then found Lisa at a hospital, burned over 90 percent of her body. Her heart gave out that night.
"I have no fear of death," says Baye, now a pastor. "I know, when I close my eyes on this side of eternity, when I open them I'll be in the presence of my God and king, and I believe the first thing I'll hear will be, 'Daddy's home.'"

Mary Sparacello can be reached at or 504.883.7063.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
4. redagainPatti
8:58 AM GMT on July 08, 2012
Good Lord.. somehow, I have never heard "bridge over troubled water" sung by him... gee! .. All I knew was Simon & Garfunkel so... thank you darling for sharing this song on your blog..
hugs and love to you from me...
Member Since: July 10, 2005 Posts: 134 Comments: 1617
3. Patrap
5:06 AM GMT on July 08, 2012
When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort youI'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
2. Patrap
2:15 PM GMT on July 07, 2012
..Be on my side, I'll be on your side,

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123
1. Patrap
4:58 AM GMT on July 07, 2012
Quoting spleenstomper:

My aunt lives 4 houses down from where the baby was found. We didn't know if my aunt was alive or not. My parents dragged us to the accident scene and I was in 7th grade. Had nightmares about all the sticks with fluorescent ribbon representing bodies found and about the body bags. If you look at news broadcasts, you will see my family and that is my cousin with the black hair with gret patch on the newsfeeds. Can't believe it has been 30 years.

I was in the Field in 29 Palms, Cali on a CAX Air Wing Runway 8 miles in the Desert.
I heard about it a few minutes after from the ATC Guys. I ran to a Mjr.s Tent, he saw a winded flushed Cpl.
What ya need? He Asked . "A Commercial Airliner went down near my Home. I need to call Home now".

Whats the number son?..he barked.

Some things stick with yas.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 452 Comments: 144123

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