Chilling final words of pilot before Western Airlines plane crashed on runway that was closed
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A haunting recording taken from the recorder of a passenger plane that crashed reveals the moment the pilot realised that they’d attempted to land on the wrong runway.
Here’s a news report from the time that features the shocking recording. Warning, some may find the contents of this video distressing.
Gilbert had flown this route some 350 times in the past, but this one was significantly different.
The horrific accident took place on October 31 1979, as flight 2605 was making a descent into the Mexican capital amidst some pretty inclement weather conditions for flying.
Not only was visibility very low due to fog, the left runway that they would usually land on was closed.
That meant that the lights were off, as the plane was supposed to land on a right runway that was parallel.
The DC-10 aircraft touched down on that closed runway, rather than the right parallel one, and headed straight for a vehicle that was on it.
Gilbert – realising what had gone wrong – tried unsuccessfully to lift the plane up off the tarmac again, but he hit the dump truck and veered off to the right.
The plane then crashed into an Eastern Airlines building, before bursting into flames.
When all was said and done after the tragic incident, 72 people out of 89 on board were killed, as well as one worker on the ground who died after the plane hit the vehicle.
Fifteen people survived, with one passenger later describing the moments before the crash.
Duane Canaga said: "The captain came on with the usual speech.
“Ten seconds later, we had this mean bump, and I said to myself, 'That's probably the worst landing I've ever had.’
“Then all hell broke loose."
After the crash, Mexico City was forced to close the airport to flights temporarily, and as many as 2,000 people are reported to have attended the site to look at the wreckage of the plane.
The recording from in the cockpit heard the pilot asking: “We’re cleared on the right, is that correct?”
“The other runway,” came the response from the first officer.
The pilot then said: “No, this is approach to the goddamn left.”
After attempting to abort the landing, the last words on the recorder are: “Oh Jesus Christ!”
Then, it’s just screaming.
It’s harrowing stuff.
After the crash of Western Airlines 2605, new guidelines were brought in about runway approach procedures.