Mayday

About the show

Statistically, traveling by airplane is safer than driving and other forms of transportation, but when something goes wrong during a flight, it can be catastrophic with potentially hundreds of lives at stake. This series examines some of the world's worst air disasters, using official reports, transcripts and interviews with people involved to tell the stories of midair mishaps and discover what went wrong in each case. 

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Upcoming episodes

Jul 9th
300p

Pilot Betrayed

December 27th, 1991 — Scandinavian Airlines Flight #751 is mired in snow and slush at Stockholm airport. The DC-9 is de-iced twice to ensure it’s safe for take-off. Despite the winter conditions, the aircraft takes off smoothly. But within seconds, the engines begin emitting a series of rapid-fire booming noises, smoke begins filtering through the cabin, and less than two minutes later, both engines fail. As the pilots try restarting them, the left engine erupts in flames. 3,000 feet above the ground, the plane has lost all power and is falling quickly and silently from the sky. The plane hits the ground, breaking into three pieces, but remarkably everyone on board survives. But can investigators determine what brought down the nearly new, state-of-the-art jetliner?
Jul 9th
400p

Dead Tired

February 12th, 2009 — Two hours behind schedule and nearing the end of its 53-minute trip from Newark, New Jersey, Continental Connection Flight #3407 is approaching Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. Flying through snow and strong winds, the pilots can see the lights of the city below, but as they lower their landing gear and extend the flaps to slow the plane, the control column suddenly starts to shake. It’s a warning that the plane is about to stall. The captain struggles to keep the plane flying but the out-of-control aircraft suddenly plummets towards the ground and crashes into a suburban home. It is the worst US crash in more than 7 years, but with a raging fire consuming the wreckage, can investigators determine what went wrong?
Jul 9th
500p

Hudson River Runway

January 15th, 2009 — Just minutes after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, United Airlines Flight #1549 collides with a flock of birds. Both engines suddenly lose all thrust, and the Airbus A-320 begins falling from the sky. The crew desperately tries to restart their engines, but can’t. With New York on one side and New Jersey on the other, Captain Chesley Sullenberger is running out of options. Searching desperately for a place to land, Sullenberger warns passengers and crew to brace for impact and tells the control tower that he will be ditching the plane in the icy waters of the Hudson River. Amazingly, all 155 people on board survive, and investigators try to determine how birds could have crippled two of the world’s most advanced jet engines. Can they prevent it from happening again?
Jul 16th
300p

Who’s In Control

February 25th, 2009 — Arriving from Istanbul, Turkish Airlines Flight #1951 is on its final approach to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The crew is following instructions from the control tower that will line up their Boeing 737 with the runway. In the final seconds of the flight, however, the plane suddenly falls from the sky and crashes into a muddy field just north of the airport. Of the 135 people on board, nine die at the scene, and investigators begin pouring through the wreckage to determine what brought down one of the world’s most popular passenger jets. Can they figure out what went wrong in time to prevent another similar catastrophe?
Jul 16th
400p

Fight for Control

"En route from Cold Bay, Alaska, to Seattle, Washington, Reeve Aleutian Airlines Flight #8 is19,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean when the propeller from one of its four turboprop enginesflies off and tears a hole in the fuselage. Rocked by explosive decompression, the pilots fightto control the plane as the cabin and cockpit fill with heavy fog. With the engines stuck in fullthrottle and with their control column jammed in place, they have no way to steer theaircraft. Unable to descend to a safer altitude and with their emergency oxygen running out,they are flying straight out to sea in a plane on the verge of tearing itself apart."
Jul 16th
500p

Fire in the Hold

"Headed for Atlanta in an aging DC-9, the crew of ValuJet Flight #592 hears a mysterioussound shortly after taking off from Miami. Almost immediately, they are hit with a barrage ofmechanical failures. At first, they notice an electrical problem. The plane’s batteries aredraining fast. But within minutes, the situation gets much worse. The pilots hear screams of‘fire’ coming from the cabin. With flames burning through the cabin floor and smoke filling theaircraft, the crew attempts a return to the airport. For passengers, there’s no escaping theonboard inferno. Plummeting to the ground at over 500 miles per hour, the plane crashesinto the Florida Everglades killing all 110 people on board."
Jul 23rd
300p

Typhoon Takeoff

"As Taiwan braces for an intense tropical storm, Singapore Airlines Flight 006 prepares to takeoff from Taipei’s Chang Kai-shek Airport. Bound for Los Angeles, the plane needs to getairborne before the typhoon hits. But as the 747 hurtles down the runway, the pilotssuddenly lose control of the aircraft. It spins around violently, crashes and breaks apart.Survivors desperately flee the burning wreckage and of the 179 people on board, 83 peopledie. With much of the wreckage found on the adjacent runway, investigators wonder if fiercewinds blew the aircraft off course. But when they find tire marks on a runway underconstruction, they reach a much darker conclusion."
Jul 23rd
400p

Pushed to the Limit

"En route from Jakarta, Indonesia, to the airline’s home base in Singapore, SilkAir Flight 185is 35,000 feet above the jungles of Sumatra when the plane banks sharply to the right, takesa nosedive, and crashes into a remote jungle river. All 104 people on board die in the disasterand then it’s up to investigators to figure out what happened. At first, they suspectmechanical failure. But when the full story behind the crash is finally revealed, it proves moredisturbing than anyone could have imagined."
Jul 23rd
500p

Blind Landing

"Investigators face a major challenge when looters make off with the Flight Data Recorderfrom the crash of TANS Peru Flight 204. Wreckage allows investigators to rule out enginefailure. But with no FDR, it will take all their ingenuity to reconstruct the final moments ofthe flight and figure out why the 737 crashed into the jungle, just 4 kilometers short of therunway."