Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dominicana DC-9 air disaster
The jetliner was on what would have been a short, 45 minute international flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. It took off from Las Americas International Airport in Punta Caucedo , near Santo Domingo, at about 6:30 PM that afternoon.
All 97 passengers and five crew members died in the air crash into the Caribbean Sea, for a total of 102 deaths.
Several famous passengers were among the dead, including former world boxing champion Carlos Cruz, his wife and 19-month son, who were flying to San Juan for a rematch against Carlos Ortiz; Juan Ramon Loubriel , who had participated in three professional sports leagues in Puerto Rico (basketball, volleyball and association football); and most of the members of Puerto Rico's women's national volleyball team, who were returning home after a friendly game against the Dominican Republic's women's national team. The few Puerto Rican volleyball players who could not be accommodated in this flight remember how they heard news about the crash on television and received the news with tears.
The airline came under heavy scrutiny after this tragedy, since a DC-3 of Dominicana on a domestic flight had also crashed only three days before, killing all twelve passengers on board. The airplane used for the Dominicana flight to San Juan on February 15 of 1970 was almost brand new, having been delivered to the airline from the McDonnell Douglas factory in 1969. The plane's registration was #HI-177, but there is no data as far as the flight's number.
Two minutes after take-off, it lost power on the right engine. The pilots tried to turn around, asking the Las Americas Airport control tower for clearance for an emergency landing, but, during the turn, the left engine also lost power, and, because the airplane was in a turn around motion when the left engine failed, the jet plunged into the sea, in what has been the only jet airliner tragedy to date for either Las Americas or Luis Munoz Marin International Airports.
To the FAA and Dominican aviation authorities, it seemed rather strange that dual engine failures would occur on so new an aircraft, and the ensuing investigation showed that the airliner had been filled with contaminated fuel. The contamination in the fuel used that day caused the engine failures.
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