December 16, 1960, at 10:45 am, an airliner came blazing through Brooklyn, New York, crashing into another plane.
The United Airlines DC8 Airliner was flying from Chicago; it was due to land at a small airport in the area which is now the location of the Kennedy Airport. The airliner crashed in mid-air with another plane, a Transworld Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation, coming from Columbus, Ohio. The DC8 airliner had 84 passengers and crew. The Transworld plane had 45 people in total.
Overall, 134 people died, 128 on both planes, including the crew and six on the ground. While 134 deaths may sound like a lot, over 1,700 more people could have died. A piece of the United Airliner barely missed hitting a Roman Catholic school that had 1,700 students inside. The Transworld plane almost hit a nearby neighborhood.
Only one person survived the crash, an 11-year-old boy named Stephen Baltz. He was traveling alone, flying to New York to visit his mother for Christmas. Stephen managed to work his way out of the wreck, setting his clothes on fire in the process. “Suddenly, there was an explosion. The plane started to fall and people started to scream,” Stephen recalled. Sadly, Stephen died soon thereafter, due to lung damage from the fire.
According to the official report, published two years after the crash, the pilot and crew of the airliner were found responsible for the crash. The Airliner was nine miles off course and had failed to slow to the speed required when flying at a low altitude.
[Source: The World’s Greatest Disasters]