It was the evening of June 17, 1996. The wedding reception was at Detroit-Wayne County Metro Airport in Romulus, Michigan. The ceremony took place on a beautiful Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200 as Northwest and KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines were the masters of ceremony. The ceremony lasted all night long until the morning as it took 7 hours and 55 minutes to complete. The celebration took place at Schipol International, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Whose wedding was this for?
My marriage to (commercial) aviation..
The previous night I had spent in the living room avoiding not only packing for the trip but also avoiding such movies as “La Bamba” and “Airport” (1970) as they were all plastered on the television that night. There was a specific scene in the movie “La Bamba” where a recurring dream Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips) has of a midair collision between two planes that actually occurred directly over Ritchie’s school, in which Ritchie’s best friend was killed by one of the fallen aircraft. Whenever I thought of that scene it brought me back to when I was eleven years old and my grandfather took my brother Ryan and I to place which as of 52 years ago today was one of the U.S.’s worst aviation catastrophes:
It’s origin was Minneapolis. It’s destination was Miami. There was a brief stopover at Chicago-Midway. The equipment, a Lockheed L-188C Electra with 4 Allison 501-D13 Powerplants, registered N121US, left the stopover at Midway only to loose contact with Indianapolis ARTC Center over Scotland, Indiana maintaining a cruise of FL 180 (18,000 feet.) Probable cause was the “separation of the right wing due to flutter induced by oscillations of the outboard nacelles. Contributing factors were a reduced stiffness of the structure and the entry of the aircraft into an area of severe clear air turbulence. “ The aircraft went down in the area near the area of Cannelton and Millstone, Indiana near Tell City. Fifty-seven and six crew were aboard. There were no survivors.