On the evening of August 12, 1985, Japan Airlines Flight 123 took off from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and was scheduled to land in Osaka an hour later. The aircraft, an 11-year-old Boeing 747SR registered JA8119, was used for high-density domestic operations.
Seats on the Boeing 747 were completely sold out because that evening was a Japanese holiday and many people were returning home or going on vacation. The pilot made the first distress call when the plane was flying up to 7,300 meters above Tokyo.
Initially, the announcement stated that there was a loss of altitude information and that the aircraft was experiencing control difficulties. The plane then fell 3,000 meters. The pilot kept making emergency calls and asking for a detour to Tokyo airport.
For the emergency landing, the pilots were given radar vectors to track. However, the lack of hydraulics and vertical stabilizer made the aircraft largely uncontrollable.
Desperate to regain control and stabilize the aircraft, the flight crew used a strategy such as an asymmetric thrust.
The landing gear was lowered and the flaps extended to prepare for the approach, but this threw the balance even further, causing the aircraft to drop forward and bank to the right.
At 6:56 p.m. local time, the aircraft, now banked at an angle of 40 degrees, collided with several trees on the side of the mountain. Then, just a few seconds later, the right wing clipped the ridge, shattering the plane into pieces.
The disaster killed 520 people and only four survived. It is also known as the deadliest single plane crash in aviation history.
The nearby US Air Force was instructed to halt its rescue efforts and hand over the task to the Japanese search and rescue program, which could not arrive at the crash site until the following day due to its remote location.
The accident site was remote and dangerous, which complicated the rescue work. It took 14 hours for the EMS crews to arrive at the scene after the accident. Some rescuers also went to remote areas.
The following day, when the bodies of the passengers were discovered, it was discovered that others had survived the crash but later tragically died of shock.
The pilots fought bravely and managed to keep the plane in flight for 32 minutes despite having no directional control. Rescuers found messages and goodbye messages among them
debris from the passengers on board who accepted their fate.
However, the remains of the plane are still at the site. The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 recently made headlines as wreckage from the disaster is still being uncovered 37 years later.
An oxygen mask believed to be part of the crashed Japan Airlines Flight 123 was recently discovered on Mount Osutaka in Japan’s Gunma Prefecture. The mask was found during road repairs near the crash site just a week before the 37th anniversary of the tragic accident.
The discovery comes nearly a year after a JAL employee found an engine part nearby.
The airline claimed that both pieces of Flight 123 were likely discovered during the landslides of Typhoon Hagibis in 2019. JAL will add these items to the Safety Support Center, which will be a constant reminder of the airline’s commitment to a safer and more promising future.