January 22, 1973 IN HISTORY

 

On this day, there was an air disaster in Kano as a chartered Boeing 707 passenger flight crashed while attempting to land at the Kano International Airport. It was the deadliest aviation disaster ever to take place in Nigeria at the time, as 176 passengers and crew perished in the crash. There only 26 survivors.

The aircraft involved in the accident was a 2-year old Boeing 707-3D3C, JY-ADO, owned by Alia Royal Jordanian Airlines, operating on behalf of Nigeria Airways. It was powered by 4 Pratt and Whitney JT3D engines. It had a manufacturer serial number (MSN) of 850.

 

The aircraft

It had been chartered by Nigeria Airways to fly pilgrims back from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Lagos, Nigeria. Bad weather in Lagos caused the crew to divert to Kano. Unfortunately, Kano International Airport was experiencing high winds at the time. The aircraft landed nose wheels first, and those nose wheels collapsed after hitting a depression in the runway. The right main landing gear leg subsequently collapsed. The aircraft turned 180 degrees, excursed from the runway and caught fire. The plane crashed after about 2,100 miles from Jeddah, near Mecca. Of the 202 passengers and crew on board, 176 died. A spokesman for the Jordanian airline identified the pilot as an American, Captain John Waterman whose wife and children lived in Beirut, Lebanon, and said the company had been informed that he (captain) and seven other crewmen were among the 26 survivors.

Witnesses reported that many passengers leaped from the emergency exits of the plane and were then trapped in flames roaring all around them. Hundreds of soldiers, policemen and volunteer workers on hand to control the large crowds of returning pilgrims and their waiting relatives and friends, rushed to the wreckage of the plane after it had crashed. “It was a pathetic, ghastly sight,” one airport worker said.

According to the wife of the captain, Mrs. John Waterman, she said she had heard from aviation sources that the runway had collapsed at the point where the plane touched down. She said that her husband had been flying for over twenty years in the Middle East and had logged 20,000 hours of airtime. He was born in Fresno, California, USA, but had not maintained a home in the United States for many years, she added.

 

 

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