Saturday, August 25, 2007

1978 Portland, Oregon Plane Crash

Edit October 28, 2018.
A commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the crash of United Flight 173 will take place on Friday, December 28th. If you are interested in attending or want to know more about the gathering please email Aimee Ford Conner (crash survivor) and Julie Whipple (author of the book about the accident, Crash Course) at

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.


Erik98671 said...

I've been telling the story for years, and now I have a reference for it. Thanks. I always heard it was on Burnside, but didn't know exactly where.

Anonymous said...

I ran down to see it when I was a kid!

Anonymous said...

This is the first crash I thought of when I read of the BA flight 38 crash at Heathrow today.


Anonymous said...

The night of the crash, I remember standing right about where the "keep out" sign is in the picture. I was 8 years old. I remember seeing Firemen sifting around looking for people.

Steve said...

Thanks for posting this. I am a life long Oregonian and I could barely remember the details of this
plane crash. Until I found your post.
I was eleven years old when this crash took place (5th grade). I remember seeing it plastered all over the news.
I also remember several things from this incident. The first is a news image that was constantly flashed on Television.
It was footage of a child's doll lying in the plane wreckage. The doll was Bert from Sesame Street.
I remember thinking I would never leave my teddy bear
behind after a plane crash (Being a kid myself at the time).
I was concerned for the safety of the child. I hoped that the kid who owned the Bert doll was still alive.
The second thing I remember was that one of the survivors was a fugitive, who was being transported to another state (I wish I could remember the guys name).
The fugitive did survive the plane crash. The guy even managed to escape during the chaos.
The Newspaper's said that the police officer (who was in charge of the transport) told the fugitive to help the paramedic's carry injured passengers to safety.
I remember later seeing on the news that the fugitive was apprehended in another state.
One other unrelated detail is
that local television station
KATU (Channel Two) won an award
for best coverage of the crash.
If anyone finds any other details or even old TV footage,
please contact me.
Steve Tenhonen

Matt Camp said...

I received an email from someone who was actually on flight 173, here is Pia's story (thanks again for letting me post this).

I tried to add to the web site re: the air plane crash of 1978- Portland but was unable so I thought I would tell you, I was in that crash! Wow! It was interesting to see the pictures.
I will add that they had told us that they were having trouble with the landing gear and to sit-tight and then later told us they would be dropping the fuel so that we can make an unsuccessful landing and hopefully with no fuel the plane would not blow up...Scarey, yes! Lucky for most of us we survived!

Also, at that time the movie: SlauterHouse Five came out. I had seen the movie before the crash. When we were in Colorado before boarding, I had come across a Ski-er looking guy.....and then told my friend before boarding, "I have a feeling this plane is going to crash". You'd have to see that movie to understand the significance of seeing the ski-er.

Thanks for posting the pictures.


Ron said...

I was 36 at the time. I lived on 158th, five houses off burnside. there was one house between me and where the plane stopped. I could out my rear window and there it was. It was there for quite some time before it was all cleaned up. My wife and I were not home at the time but my four children were. I remember seeing a news flash on tv where we were and immediatly headed home. I can remember the thoughts running through my mind those few miles driving home. It was a terrible feeling not knowing what I was going see when when we got there. But thank God nobody on the ground was hurt, or worse. Nice to read others views on it.

HaydenLake said...

I too road United Flight 173 that very cold December evening, with my two young sons ages 7 and 8 years at the time. We were all very fortunate to have survived the disaster but the PTSD is not so easy to dismiss. I don't think about the crash very much any more but think that it's interesting that anyone that lived in Portland at the time had a story to tell. It was interesting to see your pictures. Brought back what a mess it really was. Thanks for posting!

Cheri said...

I was on the flight with my mother and brother. I was 5 yrs old and only remember bits and a dream. In reference to Steve's comment, Bert was mine! Is mine...I still have him. If anyone has information on the fugitive, please email it to me at Also, if there are websites where survivors from the crash tell their stories, please send me the links. I'm interested to read others memories of the crash.

Lisa said...

That night changed my life. My parents and younger sisters were killed in the crash. I was 3. If you have any info on who took me off the plane, I would appreciate it.

cheri said...


I'm sure exactly who took you off of the plane, but I do know that the fugitive, Kim Edward Campbell and the officer in charge of transporting him back to OR, Capt. Roger Seed helped the majority of the survivors out of the wreckage.

Nic said...

I don't know what possessed me to google this, but I'm glad I did. Me and my friend Doyle Farris were some of the first people on the scene of this accident. We had heard what sounded like a plane way closer that it should have been. We were driving down Burnside and could see the aid cars several blocks down the street when we came upon the scene. It will always be some thing that I remember.

Anonymous said...

Dec. 28th, 1978 was my 17th birthday and I was living in Portland at the time. We were just talking about the plane crash at work and I found your blog. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

I watch it going down when i was a kid with my two younger brothers i lived a block a way from it when it crashed and was one of the first persons on the seen I can still see remember the people comming out of the plane and the roads were very icy the impact shook are houes like an earthquake. to this day i still have a small part of that plane.

Anonymous said...

My great grandfather was on that plane and did not survive. He exchanged seats with a woman aboard. She lived. I was going to turn 1 in January and he was on his way to see me. I never got to meet my great grandfather but I'm sure he was a kind person. It is amazing that of the 189 people aboard that only 10 didnt make it.

vja4Him said...

I was living nearby in an apartment complex, when the DC-8 crashed in Portland, Oregon, on December 28, 1978. I thought I heard a strange noise, ran outside and saw people running ... I ran after them, and saw the crash sight! That plane could have hit the apartments where I lived! That's the closest I've ever come to a plane crash. Don't want to get any closer than that!

- Riding 4 Life

Anonymous said...

I was 20 and pregnant and was so scared. I lived on SE 89th and Taylor and remember the pictures on the News. I always think about that crash. I drove by a while later just not able to believe what the TV showed. It was very sad and I am sorry for everyone that was involved. I was surprised to find so many pictures about it. I think of it often and live even closer to the site now and hear the planes overhead and remember the day.

Anonymous said...

I was 29 years old and living in Eugene at the time. A number of people who wwere traveling on to Eugene were on that flight, and it oculd havebeen. I had considered flying that year to visit family for Christmas, but I had a phobia of flying and wasn't ready to do it. I remember thinking maybe if I had been on that flight I would have expereinced being in a plane crash but surviving and then I wouldn't be so afraid of flying. Looking at the pictures and hearing the stories, I see that was crazy to think that! I probably would be in a mental hospital to this day with PTSD. I did go on to overcome my fear of flying and have been on hundreds of flights since then. -Elaine

Anonymous said...

If you view the satellite photos, it looks like the lots the plane crashed into are vacant... Were they vacant then? Was a memorial created there, or does simply no one want to build a home where lives were lost?

Jim said...

Thanks for doing this. I had mislaid my copies of the newspaper articles. My wife and I were in the first row of smoking (we boarded at Denver at the last second from a Chicago connection) right about in the middle--one of the better places. It changed our lives in many ways, some of them good. PTSD still a problem.

Roni said...

I remember this crash each year about this time. My friend, Gwen, died in the crash. The last time we spoke, I was very discouraged about my grades (we were in 7th grade). She told me not to worry; that she'd help me get them up after we got back from Christmas vacation. I was up at Mt. Hood when it happened. I knew about the crash, but had no idea that Gwen was in it until I got home.

I only found out the details of the crash about a year ago (landing gear, circling, running out of fuel). I think my mother must have kept them from me. How difficult it must have been for Gwen's parents! I still feel terribly saddened when I think about the crash, and what a wonderful, encouraging person Gwen was.

Chris said...

I remember it well, my uncle used to live down the street on Burnside. I grew up about 3 miles NE of the site in Portland and still live here. I was 11, and we were all over at my grandparents house for xmas and spent the night watching the coverage. You just never forget something that happens so close to home. My father and I were remembering it at lunch today. So sad for those that were killed, so grateful so many survived.

Anonymous said...

I was living in Portland then and out of town on business. My roomate was going to look at a house for rent and was only a few blocks away when the plane hit the vacant rental house. He thought it was snowing but it was the insulation from that house and another that exploded on impact. He could have been inside that house a minute sooner. I remember something about the pilot aiming for a dark unlit area hoping to minimize injury. it worked.

Gary W. Emmerson, D.C. said...

I was driving home on Burnside that night. My car was directly under the jet as it hit the powerlines droping them on my car. The lights in all the streets and home went out immediately. My headlights illuminated power poles moving like trees in a 100 mph wind storm. I was not aware what happened, but within seconds there were sirens coming from all diredtions. I left the dents on my car for the next six years to remind me how fortunate I was to have not been hit by the plane as it crashed.

Jim said...

My wife and I were on the plane. We avoided saving news about it or returning to the crash site. Now I expect there is nothing to see.

Can someone provide, url, or suggest an exact location, also the direction and path we came in on. Now, after 30+ years, I'm really curious.

Ken said...

I was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, at the time of the crash. I was returning home for my sisters wedding, and had my tickets from Rapid City, SD, transferring in Denver, to this plane. Just two days before the flight, I was offered an extra day of leave, and took it, which made it okay for me to cash in my plane ticket and take the bus instead. The next day, upon reaching the bus station and calling my mother for pick up, I was informed that my plane had crashed just a few hours before.

The prisoner that was being transported did in fact help with stabilizing and transporting victims before he escaped. Governor Tom McCall stated, due to the non-violent nature of his crimes, and the obvious concern for others, he was welcome to remain in Oregon as long as he wished, and was given a Governor's Pardon.

Anonymous said...

yep,me and my bro,we were there that night.almost landed on us.we were headed down burnside.seen landing lights in my rear view and i hit the brakes. it blasted right over the the top of the car 50 feet.taking out power poles and power lines and everything else.we were some of the first people at the site.something ill never forget.i havent flown in a plane yet,,,50 years :) it was quite a trip.

Anonymous said...

I too lost a good friend to this crash. Gwen. She was only in 7th grade. She was sitting with her father Bill who was a sheriff from WA. state. He was asked to trade spots with someone in the middle of the plane due to knowing first aid. Tragically Gwen was killed and found in her seat near the door of the front of the plane. RIP Gwen.

Jeff Schroeder said...

Wow.. This is a trip finding this site. All of the pictures here are mine. I was 17 years old and a member of the Search and Rescue Explorer Scouts. We were tasked with site security in the days after the crash.

I found it amazing that I was allowed to walk around inside the secure area of the crash site with my camera the day after the crash and nobody stopped me. The only time I was stopped was after I took a couple of pictures of the flight attendants that came back looking for their luggage, they told me not to take pictures of them… Everything else was ok.

I took a couple of rolls of pictures but being only 17 didn't have enough money to buy more film. The next day my dad bought me a couple more rolls, but they wouldn't let me bring my camera in. I had to leave it in my car.

I still remember the entire experience like it was yesterday.. From the "call-out" the night that it happened and driving around in Mult Co. Sheriff's cars looking for people that were in the crash... to walking around the plane amazed that something that big could drop out of the sky and only 10 people were killed!! The site was very somber and the gravity of what had happened wasn't missed on anyone at the site.

I wasn't even on the plane, but that experience had changed me and helped me become who I am today.

Jeff Schroeder

Anonymous said...

I remember this whole thing since I lived not too far from the site like many. One thing that I found out about years later when I started to work in the airline industry, was that their are airline representatives at all major airlines in all cities. These special representatives are trained to help both survivors and family of those lost with all of the basics that people take for granted. Missing luggage, helping people contact family, money for temporary needs, hotels, what ever is needed when a crash occurs to help the people. I met a man from Delta who used to work for United that was on the site and helped many of the people through this ordeal. His stories were very impressive, sad, and heartwarming. He stayed up for 3 days helping all these people. A hero on the ground that never got noticed.

Anonymous in Portland

jim kobylecky said...

Well... I dunno'. The only people who contacted myself or my wife were insurance rep's trying to get us not to sue and lawyers trying to get us to sue.

There my have been such people and they may have help others, but they missed me.

I did meet a United flight officer was who bought us a bottle of champagne. But that was years later when I started to fly again.

Tina said...

I've been looking for pictures and a story behind the 1978 plane crash and this is by far the best I've come across. For Jeff Schroeder - I'm working on a project through work to find historical information on this and other emergencies/disasters in Multnomah County and am wondering if you could email me regarding your pictures and experience. This goes for anyone else who would like to share their experiences. ideaprincess @ Thank you!

Jane Wray said...

I was 15 years old when that happened. A friend of mine was to be on that flight, but decided to climb Pike's Peak instead. The house that the plane landed in was a co-workers parents house.

shannon said...

I was about 9 at the time and had once lived in the house that was hit. I have blocked out alot about the incident but remember somethings and decided to look up and see if it really happened, no wonder I have a fear of flying. We lived in that home for a few years and had just moved out.

Anonymous said...

I was 11 and i was being baby sat by a friend of my moms, it was dusk and we were kicking a soccer ball in front of the house i was at, (158th and glisan) i saw a plane for a second then i saw the flash, we ran in the house and listened to a police scanner, then ran down to the wreck, where we saw people wondering around and the police just showed when we go there so it was pretty much Pandemonium from then on... was a scary sight for an 11 year old....

liz said...

Executing a plan, at 17, to run away from home(Denver),to be with a boy I met 10 months prior and knew for a week, I realized I'd better not fly the airlines my mother actually worked for. Cancelled the one-way ticket on that United flight, and, booked one on Continental, same day, real close to the same time.
Mike, and, his sister Mary S. were driving from Aumsville, OR to pick me up, when, they saw a flash in their horizon, few min. later it was announced on the radio. Because of the change of plans I made, they were unsure of what airline I flew with..

Elizabeth Stopa

jennifer Barrett (Stone) said...

My name is Jennifer Barrett (Stone). I remember this very well. My family and I lived in the apartment complex (greenwood) in front of the staging area. My mother went down to help with the survivors because she had nursing experience. I will never forget the screaming and crying. Or the sirens. There were so many that came to help. Even at six years old I remember it so clearly. I have described this incident. To my husband many times and was greatful to find this page so he could understand.

Keith Dysinger said...

My name is Keith Dysinger. I remember this crash as we were visiting Portland at the time to attend the Far West Classic where MSU and Magic Johnson was playing. The interesting part is That we had flown in on that same United flight on Christmas Eve. And was Staying at a Motel just a few blocks from the crash Site. We drove over and visited the crash site the next morning.

Anonymous said...

We live under the flight path on 201st off of Glisan and still do. I remember that evening, seeing a passenger plane circling and away from the regular flight path and very low. I mentioned it to my husband and just minutes later we were told of the plane crash on Burnside and 158th. Such a scary event!

jim kobylecky said...

Has anyone been by there to see what's there now? On the crash site I mean. I never went back to look (my wife and I were on it and that seems enough). Now I doubt if I could find it unless there's a plaque or something.

Kathy Craig Driscoll said...

It's been 34 years since the Portland plane crash. Every year I remember that night on the 28th of December because I was on the plane with my 2 young sons. I just really wanted to thank Matt for authoring this historical blog that commerates the thoughts and happenings, complete with photos of that fateful night. And on a personal note, thank you for being on FaceBook, Matt. It has enabled me to "show" people rather than "tell" people. There was a time when I was pretty scrambled and telling that story was indeed a problem. Just wanted to yell, "Why me"! All these many years later some of it feels as though it just happened yesterday and other thoughts are just a distant memory. Thanks again Matt!

Matt Camp said...

It's an honor Kathy, I wasn't on the plane, (I was just a baby) but when I found out about the crash I had to know as much as I could. Jeff Schroeder's photos bring the whole post to life but the comments (including his) are the most interesting part of it.

The post went for months without a comment, I wasn't sure if people would think I wasn't showing enough respect to those who lost their lives during the crash so I almost took it down, I'm glad I didn't.

It's strange to think that this post is the one that I'm the most proud of writing. I'll make sure to update every time I find something.

Anonymous said...

I was about 17 years old working at a place on the corner of 162nd and Burnside a little building with a ramp. We called people on the phone and sold magazines to people. I remember the crash as I was working that day and it was hard not to go over and try to see everything going on but they told us to just go back to work. Very hard to do but we did go outside and see the plane at lunchtime. Wow that was close, it could have landed on us.

JJ Lindsey said...

I lived on 157th, just a few houses away from the crash. On hearing the 'boom' my mother immediately thought it was 'the bomb'. I was working down at the drugstore on Stark Street, right in the path of the plane had it landed maybe 3 seconds earlier. My brother was one of the first down to the scene, air filled with particulate---he expected that it might be a small plane the air cleared he saw the huge looming United airlines tail. Passengers were wandering around like ghosts, really. The dark swath of land at which the pilots were aimed (to their credit) was the deep backyards of all our properties on 157th...our pregnant horse must have really freaked, huge jet just over her head and the tops of all our large evergreens falling to the ground around her. For days afterward it was bitterly cold outside and my friends and I would take hot chocolate down to the officers guarding the crash site, standing around freezing. I sometimes reflect on how close we were to BEING the crash site itself, and how amazing it was that it literally flattened two entire houses, both unoccupied, while right next door to the crash the Clark's lived in a big house with oodles of adopted chldren---our schoolmates. The only silver lining to the story was that this crash initiated a new crew training program that is now used round the world, and has no doubt saved countless other lives. I am sorry for all the cabin and crew who lost their lives that night, and to all those seriously injured by the crash. Thank you Matt for the gift of 'gathering'!!

jim kobylecky said...

Hi JJ, my wife and I were on the plane, toward the back, the first row of the smoking section since non-smoking was filled.

I did not go back to see the crash site afterwards and my wife spent decades trying to forget it. I am very glad we missed the Clark's, we may have knocked on their door trying to find a phone that worked.

What I'd like to know now is what is there now? Homes, apartments, a parking lot? A little brass plaque would be nice but too much to hope for. And I do hope your horse and her coming foal lived to have good lives. Sorry to have dropped in unannounced. When I did call my folks back in Chicago my mother totally did not believe me and yelled at me to stop joking around.
Merry Christmas to all the browsers... jimk

Anonymous said...

Wow, I remember this crash when it happened. A close friend of mine who is no longer with us Timothy Cogan and a friend of his went to the plane crash site and was arrested for trespassing, When they had gotten out of jail a few hours later they said that they couldn't believe what had happened that more people hadn't died, 4 years later I happened to move in to an apartment on 162 ave, right in the line of that crash and could still see what that crash had caused there in the woods..

Julie W said...

Strange how things come together. In the last hour I happened across this excellent blog and gathering place for so many of us with memories and information to share about United Flight 173. As I write this it's 6:10 pm on December 28 exactly 36 years since the DC8 was about to crash at 157th and E Burnside. To all those who survived, I send wishes of comfort. For those who were lost, may we always remember them. I don't know how I didn't find this site until tonight, or why it would happen on the anniversary of the crash. I am nearly finished writing a book about the doomed flight and somehow missed it until now. I'd like to respond to many of the posts, but will offer this to Lisa who wanted to know how she was gotten off the plane. Two flight attendants found her buried in the wreckage of the first class cabin where her family had been seated. Sandy Bass and Nancy King spotted her little hand and the rescue workers pulled her out. The crash itself was the culmination of a series of decisions that started years before that fateful December night, and that yielded a complex legacy of tragedy and transformation we live with today. I can be reached at

L said...

Julie, Thank you so much for that information. I am so grateful for Nancy and Sandy and the rescue team. I'm sorry we lost touch or that I never followed up with you. I'd be interested in reading the book though.
@Matt Camp, thank you for starting this. As painful as it can be to revisit, it is also helpful. I have been overwhelmed over the years with the number of people I've come across who have wondered about me and have prayed for me through the years. Thank you for the care and compassion. Blessings, Lisa

Gen Small said...

Geez how do I start, I grew up in Oregon and didn't leave until I was 24 yrs old and am now 43. I was approx 7 yrs old at the time of this plane crash and what I remember is the loudest scariest earthquake shattering noise behind our apartment complex and then running into my mom's room and not knowing what had happened. She comforted me and it seems unclear the details now but I never forgot she told me it was a plane crash and how lucky we were that it just missed us. I never visited the site but it seems stuck in my memory seeing the plane aftermath but I was so young so its unclear to me why. Through out the years I have always told people a plane crashed behind my apts and when a plane flies low I always feel nervous. I looked this up today because a small jet plane just crashed on I285 in Georgia where I now reside killing a Dad 2 sons along with one fiance that were headed to his son's graduation...and I had a neighbor in 1996/7 die in a plane crash over the everglades in florida headed back to GA and the irony today when I look up this story just 6 mths ago I decided to look that up and she was a wanted woman for a murder of a disabled friend so of course I was reading about today about the fugitive but glad he was pardoned for his part in aiding people in the Portland crash. Last thing is one day I mentioned the crash in Portland and a guy I was talking to claimed his brother was killed in that ironic was that and I would like to see the list of the 10 who passed but wow amazing....I read all posts and offer my condolences for those lost and those affected....that apt brings back bad memories because its also where a little indian friend of mine lived and a man came to the school and kidnapped her to be found murdered, I hardly ever got to go outside after was after that too we had to hold hands and go 2 to the bathroom by 2. It seems harsh realities were introduced....sorry to ramble thats my recollection from that timeframe. God bless all....Genevieve Small

Anonymous said...

I remembered coming across this post a year or two ago when i randomly tried to jar my memory on the crash. I had just turned 7 and was in 1st grade at Cathedral School in Portland. Sadly, my friend Jason's father was one of those who died. I decided to post now because i happen to be watching 'Air Disasters' on Smithsonian channel. Not usually my thing, but I noticed this episode was dedicated to Flight 173. It's Season 4, Episode 8 if anyone is interested. Mark

Ed B said...

My wife and I were living on 92nd between Holgate and Powell. I remember it vividly because I was outside getting something from my car when I saw the plane coming and I had never seen a plane down that low. When it went over our house, it couldn't have been more than 100 ft above and it had no engine noise. I ran in and told my wife there was going to be a plane crash and as I finished saying it, we could hear the crashing off in the distance. One of our friends who loved around the corner from us was a nurse and we saw her running out of the house and jumping in her car. The local hospitals must have been notified by the FAA. I thought it was actually going to crash closer to us than it did. We were so surprised that only 10 people were killed, as sad as it was anyone was killed. There were a lot of clumps of fir trees all over and that the pilot zeroed in to an area of darkness could have been worse. If I remember it happened that no people were home in the ones that were damaged or destroyed by the plane, which is a small miracle in itself.

Julie W said...

I posted a comment on this blog a while back and would like to touch base once again with the people who have gathered here to remember United Flight 173. I have completed the book I was working on about it, but would like very much to hear from people who were on the flight to see how they are doing today. Recovery from a traumatic experience is a very long process, and though more than 35 years have passed it is not uncommon to still be somewhere on that journey. I am located here in Portland and would be grateful to hear your stories for the epilogue to my book. Please contact me at

Anonymous said...

on google maps, here is a photo of the site, I just looked this up today Dec 30 2016,-122.5015694,3a,75y,322.8h,84.03t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5oSTi2Xgu97Ya6bg9Ok-zA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

jim kobylecky said...

I'd still like a little brass plaque there for us.

Julie W said...

Flight 173 deserves to be remembered for so many reasons. That's why I wrote Crash Course: How Flight 173 Changed Us. The book which reveals long-hidden truths about the accident and deals with the intersection of personal tragedy with corporate power and our court system should be out later this year. I hope that any renewed attention it brings to the crash will galvanize an effort to install a long-overdue memorial plaque. One idea I had was that it might go somewhere at the MAX station a couple of blocks away. Otherwise perhaps the land owner at the site of the crash would be willing to participate. In any case, let us all take a moment now just days after the 38th anniversary of the accident to recall that life-changing event. Peace.

Chris Mendenhall said...

I stumbled on this blog a bit by accident and if I may, thankful I did. December 28th, 1978 is a date forever etched into my soul. I remember all of it as if it happened yesterday. I was only 12 at the time and my father, S/O Forrest E. Mendenhall "Frosty" was the Flight Engineer in the cockpit with Capt. McBroom and F/O Roderick Beebe. With great respect to all, I thank you for comments and sharing
what many of you witnessed or remember of that day. Some of you have lost loved ones as I have, words cannot fully express or comprehend such loss. May I wish you only peace and God's love.

What to write about that night. I could write a novel almost but I won't. I want to be respectful to others who may read this. It is very weird about how I found out about this crash. My family was living just south of Denver in 1978 in a very small community. My father was friends with many of the volunteer fireman in our town. Would you believe that our phone rang and I along with my mother answered the phone, the local volunteer fireman had called and told us that they heard something on HAM radio. What they stumbled upon was there was a crash in Portland, OR and they knew my dad flew with United. They also knew ironically that he had been flying the Portland route for months. This was the very first news in Denver we had heard about the crash. Not a minute later it seemed, a reporter for 9NEWS in Denver was on TV and gave a brief 15 second statement about a crash in Portland that originated in Denver. Instantly I knew it was Dad's plane. Someone on this blog mentioned what was shown on TV and I also agree, it was not for the fainthearted to see. Even today you would be surprised to something like that shown on TV. Sadly it took nearly 5 hours to only confirm the worst news. The rest is history.

Sadly this accident happened, we cannot change the past. If I may, there is a shining light from all of this. "Cockpit Resource Management" or CRM was born from this accident. The main purpose of this program is to train flight crews to work together and to be more assertive when addressing any issues. During the 1970's this was an industry wide problem and not just an isolated incident. The atmosphere in the cockpit then was "The Captain is GOD" and the other crewmembers are just that, crewmembers. CRM has changed that and has saved thousands of lives with this training.

As time never sleeps, many of us are aware that a 40th anniversary is approaching.
I know there was a 20th Anniversary gathering in Portland. I don't think it is at all too inappropriate that maybe a gathering of passengers, family, rescuers neighbors get together for the approaching anniversary. Maybe even somewhere else in Portland or a different city. If not a gathering, maybe a facebook page for all to communicate to one another. Some may find it healing after all these years, anything is possible.

Thank you for the opportunity for writing on this blog. There is also a very special person on this blog, her name is Lisa. Please do not be offended but you are very special to many and God Bless You. I welcome any correspondence by E-mail if any would like to write.


Chris Mendenhall

Julie W said...

Heartfelt wishes for peace and remembrance on this rainy 39th anniversary.