Remembering Flight 123, deadliest single-plane crash in history – and one of the most incredible
Have you ever heard of the deadliest single-aircraft incident in the entire history of aviation? On August 12, 1985 Japan Airlines Flight 123 went down, leading to the tragic loss of life of over 500 people.
The flight was intended to be a domestic, regularly scheduled Japan Airlines passenger flight from the airport in Tokyo, Haneda Airport to the not far at all Osaka International Airport.
Sadly, the Boeing 747SR jet operating the flight route was struck by a sudden decompression event merely twelve minutes into the duration of the flight. The plane ended up crashing in the area of Mount Takamagahara, Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, about 100 kilometers outside of Tokyo or 62 miles. The plane touched ground about thirty two minutes into the flight, making the site of the crash Osutaka Ridge near the Mount Osutaka.
Theories of foul play or assassination or things like that have hardly been mentioned about this particular event.
The official conclusion drawn by the Japanese Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission reported that the rapid decompression of the aircraft occurred due to a faulty repair, following an event in which a tailstrike incident landing at the Osaka Airport seven years earlier caused the need for repair.
The only thing it took for this Boeing jet to go down was a doubler plate on the plane’s rear bulkhead being repaired improperly, which compromised the very aerodynamic nature of the jet, or airworthiness in an aviation term.
All the way up until the day of the accident, apparently the cabin pressurization just steadily expanded over time, expanding and contracting the bulkhead that had not been repaired properly until one day the thing finally failed, causing a huge portion of the plane’s tail to be ripped off mid-air, which caused the entire plane’s hydraulic controls to fail.
All 15 crew members on the plane sadly lost their lives, and 505 of the total 509 passengers passed away. A few passengers managed to survive the crash at first but hours later, they succumbed to their injuries and passed away.
Four women survived.
Aboard the crashing plane, sad things took place. A 52 year old man named Hirotsugu Kawaguchi was a passenger aboard the plane, who reportedly wrote a letter of goodbye to his children and their mother, telling them to “be good to each other.”
“Dad is very sad but I’m sure I won’t make it . . . the plane is turning around and descending rapidly. I am grateful for the truly happy life I have enjoyed until now,” said the astoundingly long 7 page letter left by the man.
A 26 year old woman named Mariko Shirai captured a horrible moment with her words in the final moments she had to live, writing: “I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. Help. I feel sick. I don’t want to die.”
Four women survived the crash in the end, and these days it is an annual event in which relatives climb the steep, rugged mountainside to mourn their deceased family members and friends. A monument on Osutaka Ridge and grave markers exist there today.
A safety promotion center was opened near the Haneda airport in Tokyo by the JAL in 2006. It functions as a museum, strangely referred to as a “cornerstone of safety” designed to pass on lessons from the accident to ensure that planes remain safe in the future.