All heeding aside, here are the 10 most devastating plane crash videos we selected:
1. Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 is the most devastating plane crash video of all time. The final death toll, including airline passengers, crew, terrorists, and people on the ground numbered almost 3000.
American Airlines Flight 11 was a Boeing 767-223ER flying from Boston’s Logan international to Los Angeles. It crashed into the North Tower at 8:46 AM. United Airlines Flight 175 was a Boeing 767–222 flying from Logan international to Los Angeles International in California. It crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 AM.
At first, the impact of Flight 11 appeared to be an accident. However, when Flight 175 was seen live on TV impacting the South Tower, it confirmed that the crashes were being done deliberately by then unknown enemies. The jaw-dropping video from several angles by different people remains as shocking today as that fateful morning years ago.
2. “Pierced Heart” Routine Spills Blood of Hundreds Of Spectators
Chaos and pandemonium swept through the crowd during the Flugtag ‘88 air show in Ramstein, West Germany in 1988 when the Italian Air Force’s “Pierced Heart” routine ended in a midair collision. One of the aircraft crashed onto the runway and tumbled into the spectators in a giant fireball of aviation fuel.
The result was the second deadliest air show accident in history. Three of the pilots died along with 67 spectators. Over 340 spectators suffered serious burns and other major injuries. Things proceeded to get worse as the rescue efforts were hampered by differences in medical equipment between German and American medical teams, an initial lack of recognition of the seriousness of the crash by authorities, and a lack of planning for major disasters.
3. Hijacked Ethiopian Airliner Crashes Into Ocean
On November 23, 1996 three Ethiopian hijackers seeking political asylum hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight 961. It was scheduled to travel from Addis Ababa to Nairobi and then on to Bombay. The hijackers wanted the pilot to fly them to Australia. The Boeing 767-200ER ran out of fuel and the pilot attempted a water landing near Grande Comore, Comoros Islands, in the Indian Ocean near Mozambique.
Traveling at over 200 miles per hour as it hit the water, the plane's left wing made contact first. The jet engine acted as a big scoop, jerking the entire aircraft to the left and breaking it apart. Of the 175 passengers and crew, 125 died along with the three hijackers. Many of the passengers died because they inflated their life jackets before they were able to extricate themselves from the cabin, pinning them against the ceiling as water flooded the plane.
4. Russian MiG-29's Collide During Royal International Air Show
Two MiG-29s collided in mid-air during the 1993 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) air show at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. The cockpit was cut completely off the first plane. Both pilots, representing the Russian Air Force, were able to eject and land safely.
Miraculously, they escaped with minor injuries. An investigation found that pilot error was at fault. As one pilot performed a reverse loop into a cloud bank, his comrade lost sight of him and decided to end his participation in the demonstration. Shortly after that, they collided.
5. Boeing B-52 Crashes at Fairchild Air Force Base
A perfect storm of pilot overconfidence, restricted air space and a “turning flight stall” led to the crash of a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress at a demonstration air show at Fairchild Air Force Base in the state of Washington on June 24, 1994. The pilot, “Bud” Holland, was known for taking risks, often breaking standard flight safety rules and procedures.
On that day he was attempting a low-speed 90° turn. The aircraft tipped pass 90°, descended quickly, snapped a grid of power lines, and exploded on the ground. All four crew members died. One crew member attempted to eject but was only partially able to complete the maneuver.
6. F-16 Thunderbird Crash At Mountain Home Airbase
Eject! Only a second before he smashed into the earth in a tumble of fire and molten steel, Air Force Captain Christopher Stricklin ejected from his F-16 Falcon during the Sept. 14, 2003 USAF Thunderbirds show at Mountain Home Air Force base in southwestern Idaho.
Stricklin was attempting to perform a difficult maneuver called a Reverse Half Cuban Eight. He climbed, rolled, and started to loop when he realized his calculations were off. He angled his aircraft away from the crowd of 60,000 and ejected. He was travelling at over 260 miles per hour and was only 140 feet off the ground when the ejection system released the canopy and his seat shot up. As it hit the airflow, it tore away from the crashing jet, saving his life.
7. Commuter Plane Crashes During High Performance Landing
Flight demonstrations are often used by manufacturers to give potential buyers a good idea of the capabilities of an aircraft. As a result, many of the maneuvers push aircraft up to and possibly beyond their limits.
The pilot of this commuter aircraft was apparently pushing the envelope too hard when he attempted a high performance landing that did not work out so well. The aircraft comes in hard, smashes into the ground, and skips along its belly as fire erupts and the wings break off completely.
8. Pilot Ejects From F-16 Fighting Falcon At 23,000 Feet
On a routine training mission at Kunsan Air Base in the Republic of Korea in 1982, Captain Jack Hower’s F-16A Fighting Falcon suddenly collided with a Marine Corp F-4 Phantom II. The wing of the Phantom sliced down the middle of the belly of the F-16.
Pay attention as the contact happens within the first few seconds of the video. At the speeds they travel, it's amazing they didn't smash into a million small pieces instantaneously. You can hear the pilot call, "Mayday, mayday!” and "I'm on fire! I'm on fire!"
Immediately the F-16 caught fire and Capt. Hower began the ejection procedure. He launched out of aircraft strapped to his seat at approx. 23,000 feet. He fell face down for 9,000 feet and separated from the chair, parachuting the rest of the way down, landing safely on a strip of land.
9. Airbus A320 Crashes into Forest at Mulhouse-Habshiem
Crashing and killing three of the 130 passengers is not the way to demonstrate a new plane. That’s exactly what happened on June 26, 1988 when a brand new Airbus 320 was performing a low-speed fly-over for an air show at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport near Habshiem, France.
The Airbus was supposed to come in at 100 feet above ground level but descended to 30 feet before crashing into trees at the end of the runway, causing a fireball. As passengers struggled to exit the plane, a young girl was trapped in her seat. A woman trying to help her was unsuccessful and both died from smoke inhalation. Another child, a boy, died when he was hit by part of the wreckage.
10. TNT Airways Boeing 737 Lands Without Landing Gear
A Belgian-owned TNT Airways Boeing 737–300 freighter attempted to land at Nottingham unsuccessfully. Originally scheduled to land at London Stansted, it was diverted to Nottingham due to poor weather.
As they prepared to land at Nottingham, the captain accidentally turned off the autopilot's while trying to answer air-traffic control communication. As they descended, the aircraft made contact with the grass near the runway, tearing off the right main landing gear, and damaging the right inboard flaps and hydraulic system. Amazingly, they were able to get airborne again. They declared an emergency and were sent to Birmingham where better weather welcomed them.
After a skidding, scraping landing in Birmingham, the plane settled onto its starboard engine due to the absence of any landing gear on the right side. There were two crewmembers on board and neither of them was injured.
As devastating as these videos are, some good did come about in the end. Each disaster resulted in improved safety procedures for pilots, crew, passengers, ground rescue crews and emergency personnel.