Saturday, August 25, 2007

1978 Portland, Oregon Plane Crash

Edit December 9, 2013.
Yesterday I received a message on facebook  from Steve Tenhonen.  I didn't give out anyone's information but if you'd like to contact him his info is below.

Hi Matt my name is Steve Tenhonen. You might recognize name from a post on your site dedicated to the crash of flight 173. To make a long story short, I became friends with a survivor thanks to post on your blog. We have been for over five years. I have a Katu television reporter interested in talking to Cheri and other survivors from the Plane crash. Do you know how to get in touch with any other survivors who would be willing to talk Bill Gallagher at Katu for the 35th anniversary of the crash on December 2013 ? Sincerely Steve Tenhonen 971-570-7303

Added April 18th, 2011: Google map link

While reading about Patsy Cline I got curious if Portland has ever had any plane crashes and I found out there was one in 1978, and it's not too far from where I live. Here's an account by a poster named Rose Red, link below:
"On Thursday, December 28, 1978, I entered a camera store at Jantzen Beach Shopping Center. I looked at the live news broadcast on the television sitting on the counter. A commercial jet had crashed in a residential area however it took awhile before it dawned on me that the crash site was located in Portland.

About 1815 Pacific standard time United Airlines Flight 173 en-route from Denver, CO to Portland, OR with 181 passengers and a crew of eight had crashed into two vacant houses, one at 15808 E. Burnside, and came to rest in a grove of firs in a residential area approximately five miles east of Portland International Airport. The wreckage path was about 1,554 ft long and about 130 ft wide.

Photographer: Jeff Schroeder

When the landing gear was lowered, only two of the landing gear indicator lights lit up. The plane repeatedly circled in the vicinity of Portland while the crew investigated the problem. Still uncertain, the pilot decided to go around once again, against the recommendation of the co-pilot. As a result the plane ran out of fuel and crash-landed at 285 feet elevation. There were 24 serious injuries, and ten deaths.

The investigation revealed that there was, in fact, no problem with the landing gear and that the unlit indicator light bulb had burnt out. The captain had failed to monitor properly the aircraft's fuel state and to properly respond to the low fuel state and the crewmember's advisories regarding fuel state. This resulted in fuel exhaustion to all engines. His inattention resulted from preoccupation with a landing gear malfunction and preparations for a possible landing emergency. The other two flight crewmembers failed to either to fully comprehend the criticality of the fuel state or to successfully communicate their concern to the captain.

Photographer: Jeff Schroeder

As a result of this accident United Airlines instituted the industry’s first Crew Resource Management/Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) program, which proved to be so successful that it is now used throughout the world."

Quick Description: On Thursday, December 28, 1978, United Airlines Flight 173 en-route from Denver, CO to Portland, OR with 181 passengers and a crew of eight crashed in a residential area five miles east of Portland International Airport.

Date of Crash: 12/28/1978

Aircraft Model: McDonnell-Douglas DC-8-61

Military or Civilian: Civilian

Tail Number: N8082U

Cause of Crash: Pilot error

Edit: 12-29-2012

I found some newspaper articles about the crash including information about Kim Edward Campbell, the prisoner who helped his guard evacuate the passengers before escaping.  A great story from such a tragic event, I'd like to shake his hand.

Tri City Herald - Dec 29, 1978
Crash Hero Prefers Freedom To Prison
His Thank You Was Good By
Aids Jet Passengers, Escapes

After looking through the maps I've found and the information I've looked up I believe the site of the crash is just north of Burnside on the unmarked 158th avenue.  Here's a map from KATU, Which would put the site here: Google Maps

Edit: 12-30-2008 

Here are some more links thanks to this blog:

Survivor recalls deadly 1978 Portland plane crash
The Seattle Times 12-29-2008

Woman recalls 1978 Portland jet crash
KATU News 12-29-2008, with video

Super 70's
With a "Share Your Memories" section.

Photographer: Jeff Schroeder

Here's a very, very lengthy article with transcribed radio transmission, and every other piece of information regarding the crash imaginable. Ominous name for a website though.

Photographer: Jeff Schroeder
 The photos I used for this post came from this site. Look out for pop ups and yelling things though.