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Flight 401 Memorial to Be Unveiled in Miami Springs


Beverly Raposa was a bubbly, 25-year-old flight attendant onboard Japanese Airways Flight 401 from New York to Miami when the aircraft slammed into the Everglades at 225 miles per hour close to midnight on December 29, 1972.

Of the 176 individuals aboard, 101 individuals died within the crash, which on the time marked one of many deadliest aircraft crashes within the nation’s historical past.

“It was like being in a twister,” recounts Raposa of Fort Lauderdale. “Then all the things was quiet.”

Fifty years later, she and different survivors will unveil a 2,385-pound granite monument close to a Miami Springs golf course to honor the “101 souls that perished and the 75 survivors.”

“So, you, in truth, have been on that airplane, [Flight] 401?” Miami Springs Metropolis Councilman Bob Finest requested Raposa at a June metropolis council assembly earlier than leaders unanimously accepted the memorial’s placement.

“Oh, sure, I rode that down,” mentioned the 5-foot-2 Raposa, now 75, a former Miami Springs resident. “The NTSB, after they studied it, mentioned this crash is unsurvivable.”

The aircraft was a state-of-the-art Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar wide-body jet that lifted from New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport at 9:20 p.m. for a routine flight to Miami Worldwide Airport, in line with a Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) crash report.

The captain, 55-year-old Robert Loft, was a DC-8 pilot who had two-and-a-half hours of coaching within the new L-1011 aircraft, the report states.

The flight diverted from its method to the Miami airport as a result of an onboard indicator didn’t sign the nostril gear was locked within the down place.

Photograph by the Federal Aviation Administration

“Ah, tower, that is Japanese, ah, 401. It seems to be like we’re gonna need to circle. We do not have a light-weight on our nostril gear but,” Loft mentioned. 

The plane was suggested by air visitors management to climb 2,000 toes as Loft directed the primary officer to interact the autopilot.

“Japanese, ah 401, how are issues coming on the market?”

“We did one thing to the altitude,” the primary officer mentioned.

“Hey, what’s occurring right here?” mentioned Loft at 11:42 p.m., seconds earlier than flight tower operators heard a click on and 6 beeps.

Nicknamed the “Whisperliner” for its clean and quiet journey, the aircraft’s engines and wings tore off and did end-to-end cartwheels, leaving divots within the earth.

Fires crackled within the jet-fuel-coated sawgrass 18 miles west of Miami Worldwide Airport, the place a quarter-mile swath of mangroves was strewn with meals trays, carry-on luggage, and our bodies.

click on to enlarge

A monument is scheduled to be unveiled to commemorate the 1972 crash of Japanese Airways Flight 401.

Photograph by Metropolis of Miami Springs

Tales of ghost sightings after the crash web site led to a guide deal and a 1978 made-for-television film referred to as The Ghost of Flight 401, starring Ernest Borgnine. Previous to Halloween this yr, a Journey Channel particular aired about a staff who ventured into the Everglades to contact the flight victims’ ghosts and “discover out what actually occurred.”

Authorities investigators took a less-supernatural method and cited 4 doable causes for the crash: refined incapacitation of the pilot, points with auto-flight system operation, flight crew coaching lapses, and flight crew distractions.

A medical expert’s report revealed that Captain Loft had a tumor that “displaced and thinned the adjoining proper occipital lobe of the mind.” (The occipital lobe is primarily liable for visible processing.)

Raposa tells New Instances that she bought the concept for a monument from Miami Herald reporter Luisa Yanez when she lined Flight 401’s thirty seventh anniversary.

“Folks from Denver and New York have already advised me they’re flying right here, and plenty of Japanese individuals from throughout Florida and past have mentioned they are going to be attending,” wrote Raposa in an e mail to metropolis leaders.

In line with the Metropolis of Miami Springs, the Japanese Airways Flight 401 Memorial Group has been elevating funds for the undertaking, which was initially estimated to price about $600,000. The most recent design for the monument is significantly cheaper, in line with Raposa.

The memorial will probably be positioned the place a runway as soon as ran by way of the center of town.

The general public is invited to the monument unveiling at 1 p.m. on December 29, close to the 700 block of Curtiss Parkway.

Correction revealed 3:15 p.m. 11/10/2022: The article was up to date to appropriate Raposa’s age and make clear that the $600,000 memorial price listed on the Metropolis of Miami Springs’ web site utilized to a previous incarnation of the undertaking.



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