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6 Truly Terrifying Plane Crashes

Being launched through the air in a metal tube at unbelievable speeds is terrifying enough. These air disasters might make you reconsider ever flying again.

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1. Nigeria Airways Flight 2120

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After visiting Mecca, Nigerian pilgrims on their way from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Sokoto, Nigeria were in for a nightmare. Before departing, it was noted that two of the plane's tires were under-inflated. Plane tires aren't filled with regular air; they're filled with nitrogen, which was not "readily available". Waiting around for it would probably have caused a delay, so the project manager gave the go-ahead. Unfortunately, two tires failed during take-off, and the bare wheel assembly against the runway caused a fire, which spread once the landing gear was retracted. Though the pilots tried to return to the airport, the plane lost hydraulic and pressurization systems and broke apart. 261 people died.

Even more horrifying: The fire was so intense that it burned through the cabin floor, causing seats - with passengers still strapped in - to literally fall out of the aircraft.

2. Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937/DHL Flight 611

1001crash.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

Though the sky seems infinitely big, planes can still cross paths. That's why many are equipped with a traffic collision avoidance system, or TCAS. On July 1st, 2002, a Russian flight on its way to Barcelona was on a collision course with a cargo plane headed for Brussels. Peter Nielsen, the sole air traffic controller working at the time, was dealing with another flight and didn't notice how close the planes were to each other. When he finally realized what was happening, he told the Russian pilots to descend. However, the TCAS system on board both aircraft gave the opposite instructing, commanding the Russian plane to climb and the DHL plane to descend. The Russian pilots opted to listen to the human being instead of the computer. The two planes collided and the DHL's vertical stabilizer sliced "completely through Flight 2937's fuselage." All 71 people on both aircraft died.

Even more horrifying: 45 children from the city of Ufa, Russia on the Bashkirian flight were not even supposed to be there. The tourist agency responsible for planning their trip sent them to the wrong airport on the day of their original flight, and the children had to wait two days before another flight could be chartered.

Two years later, Vitaly Kaloyev, who lost his wife and two children in the crash, traveled to Peter Nielsen's home in Switzerland and stabbed him to death.

3. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961

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On November 23rd, 1996, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 departed on what should have been a two-hour journey from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. Soon after take-off, three Ethiopian men claiming to have a bomb stormed into the cockpit and demanded that Captain Leul Abate fly them to Australia. They had read that the Boeing 767-260ER could fly for 11 hours - enough time to get them from Ethiopia to Australia. The hijackers didn't believe the Abate when he told them the plane only had enough fuel to get them to Nairobi and forced him to fly east. As the plane ran out of fuel, Abate tried to land on Grand Comore, but ultimately had to ditch in the ocean. Unfortunately, the left wing and engine hit the water first, causing the plane to break apart and sink. 50 of the 175 people on board survived the crash landing.

Even more horrifying: Many passengers who survived the impact died because they inflated their life vests before exiting the plane, which trapped them inside as the cabin filled with water.

4. KLM Flight 4805/Pan Am Flight 1736

airdisaster.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

On March 27th, 1997, KLM flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1763 were two of many planes diverted to a small airport on the island of Tenerife, after an explosion and bomb threat at their original destination. The KLM plane waited for take-off clearance at one end of the runway, while the Pan Am slowly taxied down the opposite end, searching for the exit they were instructed to take. A heavy fog had descended over the runway, which meant neither plane could see the other, nor could the control tower see either plane Misunderstandings in the cockpit and a desire to leave before completely losing visibility led the KLM plane to begin taking off down the runway before the Pan Am had exited. When the Pan Am pilots saw the KLM's landing lights, it was too late. The KLM ripped through the middle of the Pan Am and crashed further down the runway, erupting in a large fireball. All 248 souls on board the KLM flight died, as did 335 on the Pan Am.

Even more horrifying: Because of the fog, emergency crews focused their attention on the KLM plane, not even realizing there was another plane in need of help.

5. Partnair Flight 394

dn.no / Via en.wikipedia.org

Partnair Flight 394 was doomed from the start. The bolts that fastened the tail fin to the fuselage were weak counterfeit parts. The flight was scheduled to fly from Norway to Germany on September 8 1989, when it was discovered that a power generator was malfunctioning and couldn't be fixed before takeoff. Since a plane needed two sources of power to be cleared for takeoff in Norway, the first officer made the decision to run the auxiliary power unit, or APU, during the flight. What he didn't know was that one of APU mounts was broken, causing it to vibrate. This vibration, coupled with the vibrations from the weak bolts in the tail fin, created a force strong enough to jam the rudder to left. This sent the plane into a roll, which disintegrated the tail section. The Partnair flight crashed into the sea, killing all on board.

Even more horrifying: The substandard parts that contributed to the crash were just the tip of the iceberg. After an audit, it was found that nearly 40% of the FAA's spare parts inventory consisted of fraudulent parts. The business of selling fake parts was apparently lucrative, as brokers even obtained forged FAA tags indicating they were authentic.

6. Aeroperú Flight 603

airdisaster.com / Via en.wikipedia.org

The flight took off from Lima with 70 people on board on October 2, 1996. But soon after, the pilots began receiving unreliable information from their flight instruments and conflicting emergency alerts. They decided to turn back. Believing their altitude was much higher than it actually was, the pilots started to descend. However, because they were flying at night and over water, they couldn't see that they were dangerously close to the ocean. Only when the plane's wing hit the water did they realize what a dire situation they were in. The plane crashed in the ocean and everyone died.

Even more horrifying: The false readings were caused by duct tape. That's right. Something as simple as adhesive tape can bring an entire plane down. A maintenance worker put tape over the plane's static ports and forgot to remove it, effectively blocking their ability to provide accurate information about things like airspeed and altitude.

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