Observer UK, Emily Yoffe, “Bridge of Sighs”

[…] Twenty-one years ago, Air Florida Flight 90, on its way from Washington National Airport to Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, crashed seconds after takeoff, its wings frosted with snow and ice. As the Boeing 737 hit the 14th Street Bridge, it sheared the tops off cars stuck in a traffic jam caused by the storm. On the plane, 74 people died, including three babies; and four people were killed in their cars. There were only five survivors. Television crews filmed them as they waited almost half an hour in the ice-filled water to be rescued, hanging on to debris from the plane. A young office assistant for a government agency, Lenny Skutnik, briefly became famous when he dived into the river and, on national television, saved a woman who was about to drown. […]

At age 10 and a half, this was hugely frightening. I’d flown on a plane twice before. The first time was to Florida, most likely Walt Disney World. We must have flown down from Washington on Eastern Airlines. I remember coming back with a toy Eastern plane. All that stuck with me was the then-impending Epcot center, which I might have confused with a trip later that year when my family wound up going to see the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, with its geodesic-sphere-topped building that, I thought, was What The Future Is Going To Be Like.

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