During the Vietnam War, World Airways flew American troops to Da Nang Air Base from Oakland, California.
Exactly 41 years ago today, on January 23, 1982, World Airways Flight 30H overran the runway while landing at Boston Logan Airport (BOS), killing two of the plane’s 200 passengers and 12 crew. The aircraft involved in the incident was a two-year-old McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30. In command of the aircraft was 58-year-old Captain Peter Langley, assisted by 38-year-old First Officer Donald Hertzfeld, and 56-year-old Flight Engineer William Rogers.
World Airways Flight 30H was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Boston Logan Airport (BOS) with a stop at Newark International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey. The first leg of the journey was uneventful, and the plane took off from Newark without any problems. When the plane touched down on Boston’s Runway 15R, it was 2,800 feet past the threshold.
The runway was covered in ice
Under normal circumstances, this would have been fine as Runway 15R is 10,000 long, giving the aircraft plenty of time to come to a stop. However, on this freezing January day, the runway was covered in ice, making the pilot’s breaking ineffective. When the pilots realized that they were not going to stop before running out of runway and that it was too late to take off, they steered the plane off the runway to avoid hitting the approach lights.
The aircraft then skidded across a taxiway and grassy field before coming to a stop in Boston Harbor. The cockpit, forward galley, and the first few rows of seats separated from the plane and were submerged in the icy water. The two pilots, the engineer, two flight attendants, and three passengers ended up in the water but could swim to safety.
At first, it was thought that everyone had survived, including documentarian and television show host Justine Shapiro. However, three days later, they realized that two passengers were missing. 70-year-old Walter Metcalf and his 40-year-old son Leo had boarded the plane last minute and were not on the passenger list. During the crash, they ended up in the water, and with neither of them able to swim, it was presumed they had drowned. Police divers were sent to the scene, but the bodies of the pair were never found. The reason for this is that it is believed that the currents took them far away from the crash site.
The investigation into the runway overrun of World Airways Flight 30H
- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that Boston-Logan International Airport management had failed to correctly assess the presence of ice on the runway and continued to allow planes to land.
- Air Traffic Control (ATC) failed to forward what pilots who had landed before World Airways Flight 30H had said about the icy conditions.
- The captain’s failure to land so far from the runway’s threshold.
About World Airways
Headquartered in Peachtree City, Georgia, World Airways was founded in 1948. During the Vietnam War, World Airways was responsible for flying American Troops from its base in Oakland, California, and Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam.
Following the end of the war, World Airways used its fleet of McDonnell Douglas DC-10s for scheduled international and domestic passenger flights. On March 27, 2014, World Airways went out of business, announcing the immediate cessation of all operations.