T. F. Green Airport – September 27, 1975

T.F. Green Airport, Warwick, R.I. – September 27, 1975

     At about 1:00 a.m., on the morning of September 27, 1975, a Falcon cargo jet belonging to an express company landed at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, after being diverted from its original destination of Boston’s Logan Airport due to low visibility conditions over Boston.    

     Aboard the Falcon was a pilot and co-pilot, and one passenger.  Among its cargo were some low-grade radioactive materials, minor explosives, and flammable liquids.     

     About an hour later the Falcon was given clearance to resume its journey.  The tower gave instructions to use Runway 23 left for take off.   At the time clearance was given, a fog and drizzle condition existed at Green, and the pilot inadvertently turned onto Runway 23 right, instead of 23 left.  Unbeknownst to the Falcon pilot, Runway 23 right had been closed since 5:25 p.m. the previous evening, and two large passenger jets, an Allegheny Airlines DC-9, and an American Airlines 727, were parked about halfway down the 5,000 foot runway and were not visible to the flight crew. 

     The airliners were not occupied at the time, except for one maintenance man working aboard the DC-9.

     Although the runway was closed, the runways lights were still on, which investigators later determined contributed to the accident. 

     The Falcon began its take-off run and reached a speed of 100 mph before its left wind struck the nose wheel of the DC-9 causing damage to the wing and nose wheel.  The initial impact did little to slow the Falcon, which continued on and slammed into a maintenance truck which had also been parked on the runway, sending the truck tumbling under the left wing of the 727.  The truck erupted in flames and burned furiously beneath the fuel laden wing of the 727. 

     After colliding with the truck the Falcon’s main landing gear collapsed and the jet skidded to a stop about 150 yards later.  The plane did not catch fire and the crew and passenger scrambled out through a cockpit escape hatch – unhurt.

     Due to a quick response by the airport fire department the burning truck was extinguished and the fuel in the wing of the 727 did not ignite, although the aircraft did suffer serious damage from the burning truck.

     The lone maintenance man aboard the DC-9 was transported to a medical facility to be treated for shock.

     None of the materials aboard the Falcon jet were found to be leaking or in any way compromised.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Radioactive-Cargo Plane Crashes At State Airport”, September 28, 1975.    

     South Middlesex News, “Wrong-Way Takeoff At RI Airport”, September 28, 1975, page 9A 

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Law Not Violated In Warwick Crash”, September 30, 1975, page 6

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airport Crash Cost $1 Million”, October 2, 1975, page A-1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Runway Lights May Have Led To Collision”, October 3, 1975, page B-2

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Faulty Lights Crash Factor”, October 5, 1975, page 9.

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