December 28, 1978: United Airlines DC-8 Crashes in Northeast Portland

The Oregonian front page, 29 December 1978Originating at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, United Airlines Flight 173 stopped in Denver, and continued to Portland on Thursday, December 28, 1978. The pilot reported a problem with the plane’s nose landing gear to the Portland tower, and, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report (pdf), failed to monitor properly the aircraft’s fuel state and to properly respond to the low fuel state. The DC-8 ran out of gas and crashed in Northeast Portland at about 6:15pm.

The Oregonian reported the next day:

The jetliner, reportedly carrying 172 adult passengers, five infants and eight crew members, apparently lost power after circling Portland International Airport and crashed into two vacant houses and a grove of trees at East Burnside Street, five miles southeast of the airport and about 200 feet east of 157th Avenue.

The last known dispatch from the pilot was: “We’re going down. We’re not going to make the airport.”

Further reading:


  1. Richard Busby says:

    Another reason never to fly out of JFK a if one is needed. I bet those 165 survivors demand the day. Talking about dodging the bullet.

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