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Historical Chicago disaster birds eye view landscape painting
American Airlines Flight 191, 31 Seconds After Takeoff
Oil on Canvas

May 25, 1979. After close inspection of the crash of American Airlines Flight 191, it was determined that improper engine maintenance caused unnoticed stress fractures in the left wing engine mounting pylon on the DC 10. Cleared for takeoff at 3:02 PM that Friday, the aircraft roared down the runway and lifted off successfully. Just after takeoff, the port side engine, at full throttle, tore itself from the wing. The plane ascended for a few seconds, rolled 112 degrees to the left side, reaching 300 feet altitude. The only response to the control tower’s request to return for emergency landing was the word, “Damn!” 31 seconds after takeoff, the plane impacted earth, 4,600 feet from the end of the runway, taking 271 lives.

Still flight 191 remains the worst single airplane crash in the United States and there is no monument to those who died.