December 29, 2016.   Coincidence of the Macabre.


Commercial flying has never been as safe as it is right now, and usually I go out of my way to remind people of this. Every now and then, however, I get a little morbid. (If you’re a nervous flyer made uneasy by talk of crashes and disasters, you should immediately stop reading.) My post the other day about the anniversary of the Pan Am 103 bombing got me thinking about something, and I managed to put together the following list. Each of these was a historically significant air disaster of one type or another. The causes and circumstances run the gamut, from sabotage to pilot error. There is one thing, however, that all of them share. It’s not an especially meaningful thing, but it’s a peculiarly coincidental one. Can you tell me what it is?

The first reader with the correct answer wins an autographed copy of my book, or, if he or she prefers, an Emirates first class stationery kit identical to one you see below, held in the stumpy, Trumpian fingers of yours truly. Send your response to

In no special order…


Pan Am 103 (Blown up over Lockerbie in 1988)

Pan Am 1736 (Collides with KLM 747 at Tenerife in 1977. History’s worst air disaster)

KAL 007 (Korean Air Lines 747 shot down by the Soviets in 1983)

American 587 (Airbus A300 goes down seconds after takeoff from JFK airport in New York)

Swissair 111 (MD-11 crashes off Nova Scotia after an onboard fire)

TWA 800 (Fuel tank explosion destroys 747 headed from JFK to Paris)

Air France 4590 (A chartered Concorde crashes near Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris)

Avianca 52 (Boeing 707 crashes in Cove Neck, New York, in 1990, after running out of fuel)

EgyptAir 990 (Pilot intentionally crashes a 767 bound for Cairo, killing all aboard)

Eastern 66 (Watershed disaster in 1975 ushers in the study of windshear and microbursts)


And the answer is…

All of the crashes in the list involved flights that originated from, or were destined for, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Quite strange if you think about it. No other airport can be linked to so much infamy. Apparently some nefarious cosmic force has a grudge against JFK. Which worries me a bit since I’m based there.

Congrats to Andrea Georger of New York City for being first with the correct answer. She took the stationery.


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