Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771

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Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771

Aviation hijacking incident

Pacific Southwest Airways Flight 1771 was a scheduled flight alongside the West Coast of america, from Los Angeles, California, to San Francisco. On 7 December 1987, the British Aerospace 146-200A, registration N350PS, crashed in San Luis Obispo County close to Cayucos,[3][4] after being hijacked by a passenger.

All 43 passengers and crew aboard the airplane died, 5 of whom, together with the 2 pilots, have been presumably shot useless earlier than the airplane crashed. The perpetrator, David Burke, was a disgruntled former worker of USAir, the mother or father firm of Pacific Southwest Airways.[5] The crash was the second worst mass homicide in trendy Californian historical past, after the same crash of Pacific Air Strains Flight 773 in 1964.


USAir, which had lately bought Pacific Southwest Airways (PSA), terminated David A. Burke, a ticketing agent,[6] for petty theft of $69 from in-flight cocktail receipts; he had additionally been suspected of involvement with a narcotics ring.[7] After assembly with Ray Thomson, his supervisor, in an unsuccessful try to be reinstated, Burke bought a ticket on PSA Flight 1771, a day by day flight from Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (LAX) to San Francisco Worldwide Airport (SFO). Thomson was a passenger on the flight, which he recurrently took for his day by day commute from his office at LAX to his house within the San Francisco Bay Space.[8] Flight 1771 departed from LAX at 15:31 PST, scheduled to reach in San Francisco at 16:43.[9]

Utilizing USAir worker credentials that he had not but surrendered, Burke, armed with a Smith & Wesson Mannequin 29 .44 Magnum revolver that he had borrowed from a coworker, was in a position to bypass the traditional passenger safety checkpoint at LAX.[10] He gained entry to the airplane through the locked crew door utilizing the entry code scratched above the lock as reported by one of many legal professionals representing households of two useless passengers. After boarding the airplane, Burke wrote a message on an airsickness bag, however it’s not identified if he gave the message to Thomson to learn earlier than taking pictures him. The be aware learn:

Hello Ray. I believe it is kind of ironical that we find yourself like this. I requested for some leniency for my household. Bear in mind? Nicely, I acquired none and you will get none.[7][11][12]

Because the plane, a four-engine British Aerospace BAe 146-200, cruised at 22,000 ft (6,700 m) over the central California coast, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded the sound of somebody getting into after which leaving the bathroom. The precise sequence of occasions stays undetermined; nonetheless, the Mayday episode that focuses on the crash means that this was Burke getting into the bathroom to attract his revolver discreetly, presumably loading it and giving Thomson time to learn the be aware earlier than killing him. Captain Gregg Lindamood, 44, and First Officer James Nunn, 48, have been asking air site visitors management about turbulence when the CVR picked up the sound of two pictures being fired within the cabin.[citation needed]

Probably the most believable principle as to what occurred was deduced from the sample and audible quantity of the pictures on the CVR.[13] In line with the Mayday episode, it’s possible that Burke first shot Thomson twice. Thomson’s personal seat was by no means recovered, however a part of a seat that was recognized from its serial quantity as being immediately behind Thomson’s, which had not been bought and was subsequently presumably vacant, was discovered to comprise two bullet holes. As Burke was utilizing a very highly effective revolver, investigators concluded that the bullets might have traveled by means of Thomson’s physique, his seat, after which by means of the seat behind. First Officer Nunn instantly reported to air site visitors management {that a} gun had been fired, however no additional transmissions have been obtained from the crew.

The CVR then recorded the cockpit door opening and flight attendant Deborah Neil telling the cockpit crew, “We’ve got an issue!”, to which Captain Lindamood replied, “What’s the issue?” A shot was heard as Burke shot Neil useless and introduced “I am the issue.” He then fired two extra rounds. Most definitely, he shot Lindamood and Nunn as soon as every, incapacitating them, if not outright killing them. A number of seconds later, the CVR picked up growing windscreen noise because the airplane pitched down and accelerated. The stays of the flight information recorder (FDR) indicated Burke had pushed the management column ahead right into a dive or that one of many shot pilots was slumped over it.[citation needed]

A ultimate gunshot was heard, adopted not lengthy after by a sudden silence. It’s probably that Burke killed Douglas Arthur, PSA’s chief pilot in Los Angeles, who was additionally on board as a passenger and who might have been attempting to succeed in the cockpit to save lots of the plane. There was hypothesis that Burke shot himself, although this appears unlikely, as a result of a fraction of Burke’s fingertip was lodged within the set off when the investigators discovered the revolver. This indicated that he was alive and he was holding the gun till the second of influence.[14] The airplane crashed into the hillside of a cattle ranch at 4:16 p.m. within the Santa Lucia Mountains between Paso Robles[15] and Cayucos. The airplane was estimated to have crashed barely quicker than the velocity of sound, at round 770 mph (1,240 km/h), disintegrating immediately. Primarily based on the deformation of the hardened metal black field information recorder case, the plane skilled a deceleration of 5,000 instances the pressure of gravity (G-force) when it hit the bottom. It was touring at an roughly 70-degree angle towards the south. The airplane struck a rocky hillside, leaving a crater lower than two toes (0.6 m) deep and 4 toes (1.2 m) throughout. Solely 11 of the passengers have been ever recognized.[citation needed]

After the crash web site was positioned by a CBS Information helicopter piloted by Zoey Tur, investigators from the Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) have been joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After two days of digging by means of what was left of the airplane, they discovered the components of a handgun containing six spent cartridge instances and the be aware on the airsickness bag written by Burke, indicating that he might have been answerable for the crash. FBI investigators have been in a position to elevate a print from a fraction of finger caught within the revolver’s set off guard, which positively recognized Burke as holding the weapon when the plane crashed. Along with the proof uncovered on the crash web site, different components surfaced. Burke’s coworker admitted to having lent him the gun, and Burke had additionally left a farewell message on his girlfriend’s answering machine.[16]

David A. Burke[edit]

David Augustus Burke (18 Could 1952 – 7 December 1987) was born to Jamaican mother and father residing in the UK. Burke later emigrated to america along with his mother and father. He had beforehand labored for USAir in Rochester, New York, the place he was a suspect in a drug-smuggling ring that was bringing cocaine from Jamaica to Rochester through the airline. By no means formally charged, he reportedly relocated to Los Angeles to keep away from future suspicions.[7][16] Some former girlfriends, neighbors, and regulation enforcement officers described him as a violent man earlier than the occasions of Flight 1771.[17] He had seven youngsters, however by no means married.[7]


A number of federal legal guidelines have been handed after the crash, together with a regulation that required “instant seizure of all airline and airport worker credentials” after an worker’s termination from an airline or airport place.[18] A coverage was additionally carried out stipulating that each one airline flight crew and airport staff have been to be topic to the identical safety measures as airline passengers.[19]

The crash killed the president of Chevron USA, James Sylla, together with three of the corporate’s public affairs executives.[20] Additionally killed have been three officers of Pacific Bell, prompting many massive companies to create insurance policies to forbid journey by a number of executives on the identical flight.[21]

Within the “Backyard of Hope” part of the Los Osos Valley Memorial Park, there’s a granite and bronze marker honoring the 42 victims of Flight 1771, and quite a few the passengers and crew are buried in that cemetery.[22]


An episode of the Canadian documentary TV sequence Mayday titled “I am the Downside” (“Homicide on Board” for UK broadcasts) chronicled the occasions of Flight 1771 and its ensuing investigation.[14]

Flight 1771 was additionally dramatized in Aircrash Confidential.

See additionally[edit]


  1. ^ “FAA Registry (N350PS)”. Federal Aviation Administration.
  2. ^ “ASN Plane accident British Aerospace BAe-146-200 N350PS Paso Robles, CA”. Aviation-safety.web. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  3. ^ “California jet crash kills 44”. Spokesman-Evaluation. (Spokane, Washington). Related Press. December 8, 1987. p. A1.
  4. ^ “44 die in valley airplane crash”. Lodi Information-Sentinel. (California). UPI. December 8, 1987. p. 1.
  5. ^ “Fired employee’s be aware to ex-boss discovered”. Spokesman-Evaluation. (Spokane, Washington). Related Press. December 11, 1987. p. 3.
  6. ^ “From the Archives: Crash of a Pacific Southwest Airways jetliner facilities on fired worker”. Los Angeles Occasions. December 9, 1987. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Cummings, Judith (December 11, 1987). “Kin of Suspect Defiant and Contrite”. The New York Occasions. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  8. ^ “Gun-toting fired worker linked to PSA airplane crash; ex-boss was additionally on flight,” Los Angeles Occasions, December 8, 1987
  9. ^ Pollack, Andrew (December 8, 1987). “California Airplane Crash Kills 44; Gunshots Are Reported in Cabin”. The New York Occasions. Retrieved April 3, 2018. The flight, PSA 1771, left Los Angeles shortly after 3:30 and was scheduled to reach in San Francisco at 4:43 P.M.
  10. ^ “Safety badges misplaced”. Houston Chronicle. December 17, 1987. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  11. ^ “Observe of doom present in PSA jet wreckage; message apparently written by fired USAir worker helps FBI’s principle of vengeance,” Los Angeles Occasions, December 11, 1987
  12. ^ “PSA Gunman’s Observe Instructed Boss He Was About to Die: Message Written on Paper Bag”. Los Angeles Occasions. December 10, 1987. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  13. ^ Parker, Laura (December 23, 1987). “6 Pictures Fired on Jet Earlier than Crash, FBI Says; Cockpit Recorder Supplies Clearer Image of Closing Moments”. The Washington Put up. Archived from the unique on December 7, 2017. Retrieved Could 15, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Produced in affiliation with: Discovery Channel (Canada), Canal D (Canada) and Nationwide Geographic Channel (US & Worldwide) (February 10, 2012). “I am The Downside”. Mayday (TV sequence). Season 11. Episode 10. 40–55 minutes in.
  15. ^ “Ex-worker’s badge discovered”. Houston Chronicle. December 16, 1987. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  16. ^ a b “PSA Flight 1771”. December 7, 1987. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  17. ^ “Jet Crash Suspect Had Violent Facet”. Chicago Tribune. December 11, 1987. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  18. ^ Pescador, Katrina; Renga, Alan; Homosexual, Pamela (2012). San Diego Worldwide Airport, Lindbergh Subject. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 110. ISBN 978-0-7385-8908-4.
  19. ^ Malnic, Eric (June 5, 1989). “PSA Crash Legal responsibility Case Could Hinge on Airport Safety”. Los Angeles Occasions. … the Federal Aviation Administration modified safety procedures on account of the incident.
  20. ^ Fisher, Lawrence. “Four Chevron Officers Died in Air Crash”. The New York Occasions. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  21. ^ Lapidos, Juliet (April 13, 2010). “Do Obama and Biden All the time Fly in Separate Planes?”. Slate. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  22. ^ “PSA Flight 1771 Memorial Cache”. Geocaching. Retrieved October 22, 2017.

Exterior hyperlinks[edit]

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