Delta Air Lines Flight 191

aviation accident

Delta Air Lines Flight 191 was a regularly scheduled Delta Air Lines domestic service from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Los Angeles, via Dallas that crashed on August 2, 1985, at 18:05 (UTC−05:00). The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar operating this flight encountered a microburst while on approach to land on runway 17L (now marked 17C) at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).

Delta Air Lines Flight 191
The remains of N726DA's tail section at Dallas Fort Worth, just after the accident
DateAugust 2, 1985
SummaryLoss of control due to a microburst, resulting in runway undershoot
SiteDallas/Fort Worth International Airport
32°55′06″N 097°01′25″W / 32.91833°N 97.02361°W / 32.91833; -97.02361
Total fatalities137
Total injuries26
Aircraft typeLockheed L-1011-385-1 TriStar
OperatorDelta Air Lines
IATA flight No.DL191
ICAO flight No.DAL191
Call signDELTA 191
Flight originFort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport
StopoverDallas/Fort Worth International Airport
DestinationLos Angeles International Airport
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities1
Ground injuries1

The pilots were unable to successfully escape the weather event, and the aircraft impacted the ground over a mile short of the runway. The flight hit a car driving north of the airport and crashed two water tanks. The crash killed 136 of the 152 passengers and 11 crew on board, and the driver of the car.

During the approach to Dallas Fort Worth, the flight experienced heavy thunder and turbulence. They were asked to slow their speed as they were getting too close to the Learjet ahead of them. Once the Learjet ahead had landed, they reported the weather to the ATC, who then reported the weather to Flight 191.

The captain then goes onto the radio and says "Delta one ninety one out here in the rain, feels good", to which the first officer then states, "we're going to get our airplane washed."

The turbulence becomes more violent as the aircraft closes in on DFW. The first officer then states, "lightning coming out of that one", to which the captain replies, "where", and the first officer finishes off saying "right ahead of us".

As the aircraft then begins to gain speed for no apparent reason, the captain warns the first officer, who is currently the pilot flying, to "watch your speed", and then says "you're going to lose it all of a sudden, there it is". The L-1011 then begins a rapid descent, and the captain then says "push it [the throttles], push it way up". The first officer replies, "way up", which is then replied to by the flight engineer saying "way up", and the captain then replies to this, also saying "way up", and then, "that's it", referring to the throttles being at their full forward stop. The engines begin to spool, and the aircraft continues to descend, losing speed, then gaining speed again.

The GPWS then activates, telling the pilots to pull up, and the flight engineer exclaims, "push it way up", just before the aircraft impacts the ground. The aircraft hits the ground, the nose gear making the first contact, then bounces back into the air and the left engine then hits the car of William Mayberry on Highway 114, killing him instantly.

At this point, the left side of the plane catches fire as the aircraft remains airborne for several more seconds, before an unknown person in the cockpit exclaims "oh shit" in response to seeing an obstacle. At 18:05, the aircraft crashes into a water tank inside the airport boundaries just before Runway 17L at DFW. 134 people were killed directly as a result of the impact, and 2 more died before being rescued.

The wreckage of the accident

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the crash resulted from the flight crew's decision to fly through a thunderstorm, the lack of procedures and training to avoid or escape microbursts, and the lack of hazard information on wind shear.

  1. The NTSB officially listed 29 survivors in its final report, but also noted that it was aware that 2 of the 29 identified survivors had died from their injuries. The NTSB explained that it was required by federal regulation to list these 2 deceased passengers as survivors because their deaths occurred more than 30 days after the crash.: 6 



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