DETROIT (Michigan News Source) – Tuesday marks the 35th anniversary of the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255, seconds after takeoff from Detroit Metro Airport.
Shortly after it took off from Metro Airport around 8:45 p.m. on a Sunday evening, the MD-82 airplane bound for Phoenix stalled and struck a light pole near the end of the runway, ripping a hole in the left wing and igniting the jet fuel stored there.
The death toll from the accident was 154 passengers and crew. Of the 154 people on board Flight 255, 110 were from Arizona, most of them residents of Phoenix; 18 passengers were from Michigan. Only a toddler, 4-year-old Cecelia Cichan of Tempe, Arizona survived. Two people on the ground were also killed. Pilot error and a cockpit warning system failure were determined as causes of the crash.
It remains one of the worst disasters in U.S. aviation history.
The families who lost loved ones in the crash worked together to make changes in aviation laws, mainly the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act, which was passed in 1996. The law provides protection and benefits to families and survivors of aviation disasters including prompt notification, family support services, briefing for families about investigations before press notification, a memorial service and bans unsolicited communication from attorneys for 45 days after a crash.