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Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac

Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac is a 1984 made-for-television drama film about Air Florida Flight 90 that crashed into the Potomac River.

Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac
Genre Drama
Screenplay by John McGreevey
Directed by Robert Michael Lewis
Starring Richard Masur
Ken Olin
Barry Corbin
Stephen Macht
Jeanetta Arnette
Jamie Rose
Dinah Manoff
Music by Gil Melle
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Sheldon Pinchuk
Producer(s) Bill Finnegan
Patricia Finnegan
Robin Forman Howard (associate producer)
Production location(s) Los Angeles
Cinematography Fred J. Konekamp
Editor(s) Bernard Balmath
Byron "buzz" Brandt
Running time 90 minutes
Production company(s) Finnegan/Pinchuk Productions
Distributor NBC
Original network NBC
Original release April 1, 1984



On January 13, 1982, we are introduced to the people whose lives will intersect on Air Florida Flight 90 from Washington, D.C. to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Marilyn Nichols, a stewardess, has just learned she is pregnant. Priscilla Tirado and her husband Jose are leaving for Florida take up a new job. Nikki Felch is going on a trip with her boss, Joe Stiley, to Alabama, but her boyfriend David Frank wants to get married. Bert Hamilton is going on a business trip to Florida, but would rather stay with his wife and son. Roger Olian is a maintenance man at St. Elizabeths Hospital, married to Ginger, who works in the Naval Recruitment Office. Arland D. Williams, Jr. is also flying to Florida to close a bank for the Federal Reserve and is expecting to meet his fiancée Carol Biggs in Georgia. Marilyn, flight attendant Kelly Duncan and the plane leave Florida and fly to Washington. They land at Washington National Airport in a blinding snowstorm. After the passengers boarded the plane they had to sit for 50 minutes.

This caused ice to accumulate on the plane. Most passengers ignore the stewardesses' safety talk. The de-icing that was done was done improperly. Pilots Larry Wheaton and Roger Pettit seemed unconcerned about ice on the wings. When the plane tries to take off, ice on the sensors causes the pilots to have a false idea of their speed. The plane only gets to 352 feet altitude before it stalls. The plane hits the 14th Street Bridge and crashes into the Potomac River. Bert, Joe, Nikki, Priscilla, Kelly and Arland make it out of the plane and cling to a piece of wreckage in the freezing river. Roger Olian, who was on the bridge, plunges into the river to try to help. Meanwhile, friends and relatives learn about the crash. Donald Usher and Melvin Windsor take off in their helicopter. Roger gets close enough to shout encouragement to the survivors. The helicopter rescues Bert and soon they return try to catch Arland, but passes the rescue line to Kelly. They pull Olian out of the river. Each time when offered the rope, Arland passed it on to Joe, Nikki and Priscilla. Joe is pulled to shore, but a stranger, Lenny Skutnik has to jump in and pull Priscilla to shore. By the time Nikki is rescued, the rescue team returns to the crash site and see Arland has slipped beneath the water and dies.

In Florida, Air Florida employees passed the bad news to Marilyn's husband Larry that she has died. The survivors start to come to terms with what happened, sent within different hospitals and reunited with their loved ones.


Lenny Skutnik was offered about $1,500 for the rights to his story for the television movie.[1]



The movie was nominated for the Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Limited Series or a Special and the Outstanding Film Sound Mixing For a Limited Series or a Special at the 36th Primetime Emmy Awards.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Bridge of Sighs, The Guardian, (March 2, 2003).