American Airlines Flight 444

American Airlines Flight 444 was a scheduled American Airlines flight from Chicago to Washington, D.C.'s National Airport. On November 15, 1979, the Boeing 727 serving the flight was attacked by "the Unabomber", Ted Kaczynski, who sent a pipe bomb in the mail and set it to detonate at a certain altitude. The bomb partially detonated in the cargo hold and caused "a sucking explosion and a loss of pressure," which was then followed by large quantities of smoke filling the passenger cabin, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing at Dulles International Airport.[1][2][3] Twelve passengers had to be treated afterward for smoke inhalation.[2]

American Airlines Flight 444
The American Airlines Boeing 727-223 involved in the incident.
DateNovember 15, 1979
SummaryBombing (attempted)
Sitenear Washington Dulles International Airport
38°57′11″N 77°27′00″W / 38.953°N 77.450°W / 38.953; -77.450
Aircraft typeBoeing 727-223
OperatorAmerican Airlines
Flight originChicago O'Hare International Airport
DestinationWashington National Airport
Survivors78 (all)

Bombing a commercial airliner, especially one flying through an interstate route as Flight 444 was at the time, is a federal criminal offense, and the FBI was quickly called in to investigate. The FBI investigators assigned to the case found similarities between the still relatively intact pipe bomb and a series of bombs that had already detonated within several universities throughout the United States. This prompted federal authorities to assign the name "Unabomber" to the then-unknown suspect and sparked one of the longest and most expensive manhunts in FBI history, which finally ended 17 years later with Ted Kaczynski being arrested and charged in 1996.

References edit

  1. ^ Lynton, Stephen J.; Sager, Mike; Harden, Blaine (1979-11-16). "Bomb Jolts Jet". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  2. ^ a b O'Brien, John (1986-03-04). "Federal, State Officials Team Up To Hunt Creator Of 11 Bombs". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
  3. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-223 Adv. N876AA Washington-Dulles International Airport, DC (IAD)". Aviation Safety Network. Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 2020-12-22.

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