From the tragic farewell of a seven-year-old trainee to the mutterings of a confused flight crew, we count ten of the saddest last words from pilots who are about to crash!
10 – Cessna 177B,
- Jessica Dubroff was a seven-year-old pilot-in-training whose dream was to become the youngest person to fly a light utility aircraft across the United States.
- On April 11th 1996, Jessica, along with her father and flight instructor, attempted to take off from Cheyenne Regional Airport in Wyoming in a Cessna 177B Cardinal single-propeller aircraft.
- Unfortunately, conditions were poor that morning, with heavy rain and strong gusty crosswinds, and Jessica’s flight instructor lost control of the plane minutes after takeoff. All three died instantly.
- Jess had been on the phone to her mother at the time. Her heartbreaking final words were: ‘Do you hear the rain? Do you hear the rain?’
9 – Pacific Southwest Airlines 182,
- On the 25th of September 1978 the San Diego-bound Pacific Southwest Flight 182 – a Boeing 727 with 128 passengers on board – collided with a private Cessna 172, causing the deaths of 144 people.
- The two aircraft crossed flight paths unexpectedly and Flight 182’s seven-person flight crew momentarily lost all trace of the Cessna, resulting in the deadly collision.
- The crew’s final words before the power and instruments failed included: ‘We’re hit, we’re hit!’, ‘It’s bad…’ and ‘This is it, baby’. The captain’s tragic last remark was: ‘Ma, I love you.’
8 – Surinam Airways 764,
- Surinam Airways Flight 764 was a commercial flight from the Netherlands’ Amsterdam Airport to Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport in Suriname.
- On the 7th of June 1989, the flight crashed while approaching its destination. 176 of the 187 on board died, making it the deadliest aviation disaster in Suriname’s history.
- An investigation revealed the crew’s training was grossly inadequate and did not meet international standards. The crew also displayed terrible judgement by knowingly attempting to land using an inappropriate navigation signal and ignoring risk alarms.
- The last recorded words from the cockpit were: ‘That’s it, I’m dead.’
7 – Air Canada 621,
- On the 5th of July 1970, Air Canada’s Flight 621 was travelling its usual flight route of Montreal to Los Angeles. However, pilot error caused the McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63 craft to crash during a landing attempt in Ontario.
- Captain Peter Hamilton and First Officer Donald Rowland had flown together many times, and directly caused the crash by ignoring the airline’s safety protocol. By choice, they failed to arm the ground spoilers – which are deployable flaps on a plane’s wings that reduce airflow – at the start of the plane’s final approach, instead preferring to arm them on the ground.
- 109 people died on board, and First Officer Donald’s final words were ‘Pete, sorry.’ Presumably he’s apologising for his aviation mistake, but without context the apology could be like ‘Sorry for crashing your car that time’ or ‘Sorry for sleeping with your wife.’
6 – Air Asia Flight QZ8501,
- On the 28th of December 2014, an Air Asia Airbus flying from Indonesia to Singapore crashed during bad weather. Seven crew members and 155 passengers were killed and debris and human remains were later found floating in the Java Sea.
- The crash was caused by a malfunctioning rudder travel limiter unit, which led to a 104-degree roll of the aircraft, and an apparent miscommunication between the pilots.
- Playback of the recovered black box was especially unnerving for investigators. In their final moments, the pilots repeatedly chanted the Islamic phrase ‘Allahu Akhbar’, meaning ‘God is greatest’.