On the morning of June 24, 1975,
New York City (NYC) was preparing itself for an oncoming thunderstorm.
By noon, it was already pouring and winds blew ferociously over the
city. It was just a few minutes past noon when two airplanes
approaching John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) prepared to make a landing
on runway 22. One of the planes, Eastern Airlines Flight 66 (Boeing
727), reported high levels of turbulence as it flew closer to the
landing sight. However, despite these reports, air-traffic controllers
allowed the planes to land on the runway. As the Boeing 727 approached
the runway, it was swept down by wind shear towards a row of lights.
Its left wing was torn off by the lights in a matter of seconds and
soon the impact of the ground shattered the plane into pieces. The
explosion caused debris to fly in the surrounding area of Rockaway
Boulevard. Flight 66 traveled from New Orleans to Queens, New York,
with 124 people on board, eight of which were crew members. All but 11
people perished in the crash.
The crash of Flight 66 was attributed to the severe conditions created by the thunderstorm on the landing site. As the captain attempted to land at JFK, he entered into a microburst that often accompanies severe thunderstorms. A microburst consists of severe and localized winds that are capable of knocking down any planes in its path. Within a microburst there are wind shears, or diverging winds, varying in speed and direction. This type of aerial environment has continued to be a troubling aspect of air travel, and plane crashes have often been attributed to the presence of microbursts and wind shears. Advancements were soon made in regards to this issue. New technology allowed for better wind shear detection systems to be developed. By 1993, the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made it mandatory to have wind shear alert systems to be installed on every plane.