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The Air Florida Flight #90 Crash on the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, DC, Jan 13, 1982


johnb
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I guess the second-worst disaster was the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 on January 13th, 1982, which some of us will remember vividly, with 78 dead and 9 injured. The 9/11 Pentagon attack took more lives than the Knickerbocker disaster, but was not in Washington.

Air Florida 90 crashed into the 14th St Bridge and then the river close to the Virginia side.  I seem to recall that there is a tiny portion of DC on the Virginia side (is this true?), and I don't know whether the line otherwise runs down the center of the river or one side.  But anyway, did it actually crash in DC or in Va.?

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Air Florida 90 crashed into the 14th St Bridge and then the river close to the Virginia side.  I seem to recall that there is a tiny portion of DC on the Virginia side (is this true?), and I don't know whether the line otherwise runs down the center of the river or one side.  But anyway, did it actually crash in DC or in Va.?

I don't mean to degrade this forum into sensationalism, but on the same day (Jan 13, 1982), the first fatal Metro Train accident occurred. This is important for more than historical reasons, as both incidents tested the emergency response systems' capacities to respond to multiple incidents, and I *think* resulted in enhanced communications between jurisdictions.

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That day I remember being seated on a red line train, at Farragut North I think it was, when we were held for a few minutes and lots of announcements came over the PA about some type of problem, telling Metro workers to go somewhere.  I couldn't hear anything very clearly, but it was certainly not normal. The train finally went and I got home in the wet snow, and only then heard about both incidents.

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Air Florida 90 crashed into the 14th St Bridge and then the river close to the Virginia side.  I seem to recall that there is a tiny portion of DC on the Virginia side (is this true?), and I don't know whether the line otherwise runs down the center of the river or one side.  But anyway, did it actually crash in DC or in Va.?

Most state lines and other boundaries that are based on rivers run down the middle of the river. I don't remember the history of this offhand, but unusually, from colonial times, the line between Maryland and Virginia has always been along the Virginia bank of the Potomac, and this continues to be the case for the line between Washington DC and Virginia. Thus, all of the Potomac adjacent to Washington is part of Washington, as is Roosevelt Island. I seem to recall that at one time National Airport, having been built on landfill out into the Potomac from the Virginia side, was technically in Washington, and even remember many years ago (or perhaps misremember) that an 18-year-old me could get a beer at National but not in Virginia proper. At any rate, the crash of flight 90 was entirely in Washington DC.

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And don't forget about Columbia Island, the section of DC that runs along Virginia by Arlington Cemetery. Now know as Lady Bird Johnson Park, it also contains the LBJ Memorial Grove, the Columbia Marina, a section of the GW Parkway and the giant traffic circle at the entrance of Arlington Cemetery. After you cross the Memorial bridge you are still in DC.
 

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