A month of tragic anniversaries

Carib-QueenWho doesn’t love the month of May? Warm weather. Blossoming flowers. Golf. But May also has the distinction of being the month where a number of historical tragedies have occurred. I’ll start with the ditching of ALM Flight 980. The plane shown in this post was involved in a tragic accident exactly forty-five years ago today. On May 2, 1970, ALM 980 ran out of fuel and was forced to ditch in the Caribbean Sea. The story of that accident and subsequent rescue of survivors is told in my book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980.

Two days later, four students were killed by National Guardsman at Kent State University.

On May 7, 1915, a passenger liner named the Lusitania was torpedoed and sank. Nearly 1,200 people, all civilians, lost their lives. The story of that sinking is told in the new book Dead Wake by Erik Larson. I’m reading the book now and plan to write a full review when I’m finished. So far it is a first rate nonfiction narrative.

The worst aviation disaster in U.S. history occurred on May 25, 1979. That’s when American Airlines Flight 191 crashed shortly after takeoff from Chicago O’Hare. Two hundred and seventy three people lost their lives in that accident.

All anniversaries, whether good or bad, are an opportunity to pause and reflect on what has come before.


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