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Flight 723: Boston’s worst plane crash in history
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The worst plane crash in Boston’s history occurred on July 31, 1973, when a Delta Airlines DC-9 exploded into flames after hitting a seawall while landing at Logan Airport. All 89 people aboard Flight 723 died, including the lone survivor who died months later in the hospital. Fog was a major factor in the disaster. The grim photos and reports depict a horrific scene that has haunted the lives of many. -
Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
Charles Dixon/Globe Staff
July 31, 1973: A rescue worker stood next to a section of Flight 723’s charred fuselage. All 89 people aboard the wrecked Delta Airlines DC-9 jet, which crashed at Boston's Logan Airport, died. In the background, other planes prepared to take off. The flight that preceded Flight 723 had made a successful approach and landed in the fog on runway 4R and the two flights that followed Flight 723, without knowledge of the accident, abandoned their approaches at the decision height because of weather. Those flights both landed safely in Providence.
joseph runci/globe staff
July 31 1973: The relief response effort at the crash site was enormous. The Rev. James Lane, the Boston police chaplain who was called to the scene to give comfort and the last rites to crash victims, said in an interview later, "I'll never forget that morning. Everyone on the runway was walking around looking like a zombie. It all appeared so unreal, like we were all part of a movie production, but it was real, so real that it made one numb."
Ed Farrand/Globe Staff
July 31, 1973: Bodies were lined up in a makeshift morgue at Logan Airport after the crash. Within seconds after the crash, 15 area hospitals were alerted by radio to prepare for crash victims. Sadly, most of the bodies were transported to the morgue at Boston City Hospital and MGH where nurses waited to calm and comfort relatives. There was only one survivor who died 133 days later in the hospital.
Ed Jenner/Globe Staff
July 31, 1973: A body was brought to the morgue at Massachusetts General Hospital after the crash. MGH set up a crisis counseling center for relatives and friends of the Delta plane victims. The crisis service was established in 1942 after the devastating Cocoanut Grove fire and provided 24-hour access to trained psychiatrists at no charge. Dr. Aaron Lazare, director of outpatient psychiatry at the hospital, urged family members to avail themselves of this service in the coming days.
Ed Jenner/Globe Staff
Aug. 2, 1973: A hole (circle at bottom right) was created when the DC-9 jet struck the seawall. It was 167 feet from the wooden pier on which landing lights were mounted, designed to guide incoming pilots to the end of Logan's runway 4R. The shattered tail section of jetliner lay beyond the wall.
Joseph Dennehy/Globe Staff
Aug. 1, 1973: The Boston skyline was visible in the distance as investigators stood by the opening in the seawall on runway 4R. The aircraft had hit the three-foot-high seawall at the end of the runway. The plane departed from Burlington, Vt., and was originally due in Boston at 9:41 a.m. but made an unscheduled stop in Manchester, N.H., to pick up passengers who had been stranded there when a Delta flight to New York was canceled because of fog.