On a cold and foggy morning of December 16, 1960, United Airlines Flight 126 and Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight 266 unknowingly set themselves on a collision course. At around 10:30 am on December 16, Lockheed Super Constellation and DC-8 crashed into each other in the fog. Flight 126 was a DC-8, one of the newest passenger planes available at the time. The second plane was a much older model: a Lockheed Super Constellation, otherwise known as Connie. As Connie tried to bank left of the approaching plane, one of DC-8's turbo engines crashed into the plane, causing Connie to split in two. Within seconds it was falling rapidly towards the ground below. The plane crashed on a large field in Staten Island, with all of its 84 passengers killed upon impact. The DC-8, now missing one of its engines continued its original course towards LaGuardia airport. Falling short of its goal, the plane crashed in the northern end of Park Slope, seriously damaging or destroying many of the buildings in its path. All 44 passengers and some people on the ground level were killed in the quiet neighborhood of Park Slope.
Radar technology was only a decade old and lacked many of the advanced features used by air traffic controllers today. For instance the tracking systems could not detect altitude and speed of the aircraft. When the two planes crossed each other's path, there was no way to know whether they were crashing into each other, or just passing at different altitudes on a fixed point. The DC-8 had four powerful turbo-jet engines and could reach speeds of up to 550 miles per hour. Without an aerial speed limit enforced, there was no way of determining how fast the DC-8 was flying. For some time following the accident, residential buildings in the area remained vacant. Today, no sign or commemoration to the disaster exists there. The tragic event sparked anger and outrage amongst New Yorkers and the mounting public pressure caused the federal government to take action. New regulations were put in place; a speed limit of 288 miles per hour is now enforced, pilots are required to report any navigation problems aboard the plane. In cases of emergencies, air traffic controllers had to accept a transfer of responsibility of any aircraft that was in danger. In time, huge improvements were made in radar technology. Today, air traffic controllers are able to determine the speed, altitude and aircraft model with accuracy.