Plane Crashes with a Sole Survivor

The following events are those from 1970 to the present involving either jet airliners or selected large turboprop driven airliners where there was only a single survivor. Note that the events below include military flights, chartered aircraft, and other events that would not count in the risk statistics used by AirSafe.com.

  1. 9 August 1970; LANSA Lockheed L-188 Electra; Flight 502; Cuzco, Peru to Pucallpa, Peru: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Cuzco to Lima, Peru. During takeoff, the number three engine lost power. After lifting off, the aircraft crashed during an attempted return to the airport. All eight crew members, and 91 of the 92 passengers were killed. Two farmers on the ground were also killed. A 26-year-old passenger, Juan Loo, survived. One newspaper report identified this person as a copilot. The Peruvian government subsequently suspended the airline's operating license for 90 days.
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  2. 24 December 1971; LANSA Lockheed L-188 Electra; Flight 508; en route Lima, Peru to Pucallpa, Peru: About forty minutes after takeoff, the aircraft entered an area of strong turbulence and lightning. About 20 minutes later, lightning struck the aircraft and caused a fire in the right wing. The right wing and part of the left wing separated, and the remainder of the aircraft broke up.

    All six crew members and 91 of the 92 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was a 17-year-old girl, Juliane Koepcke, who remained strapped in her seat and fell about 10,000 feet (3 km) into the jungle. She then made her way through the jungle for about 10 days before being rescued. Her mother was also killed in the crash.
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  3. 26 January 1972; JAT DC9-32; YU-AHT; flight 364; near Hermsdorf, Czechoslovakia: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Copenhagen, Denmark to Zagreb, Yugoslavia. The aircraft suffered an in-flight breakup due to a bomb. Five of the six crew members and all 23 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was a Vesna Vulovic, a cabin crew member who reportedly suffered multiple fractures after falling to the ground while inside of the tail section.
    Fatal DC9 Events
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  4. 22 July 1973; Pan Am 707-300; flight 816; near Papeete, French Polynesia: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Papeete, French Polynesia (Tahiti) to Honolulu, HI. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft entered a left turn, and descended into the sea at an excessive bank angle. All 10 crew members and 78 of the 79 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was passenger Neil Campbell.
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  5. 30 May 1979; Downeast Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter; flight 46; Boston, MA: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Boston, MA to Rockland, ME. The aircraft struck several trees and crashed. Both crew members and 15 of the 16 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was 16-year-old passenger John McCafferty.
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  6. 24 August 1981; Aeroflot; flight 46; Boston, MA: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Boston, MA to Rockland, ME. The aircraft struck several trees and crashed. Both crew members and 15 of the 16 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was 16-year-old passenger John McCafferty.
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  7. 23 December1984; Aeroflot Antonov 24RV; CCCP-46653; flight 811; en route to Blagoveshchensk, Russia: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Komsomolsk-on-Amure, to Blagoveshchensk, Russia. While en route, the aircraft had a midair collision with a Soviet Air Force Tupolev 16K at FL170. Both aircraft crashed, killing all six crew members on the military aircraft, the five crew members on the civilian Antonov, and 26 of the 27 passengers on the Antonov. The sole survivor was a Larisa Savitskaya, who was traveling with her husband and returning from their honeymoon.
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  8. 21 January 1985; Galaxy Airlines Lockheed L-188 Electra; flight 203, near Reno, NV: The aircraft was on a charter flight from Reno to Minneapolis. Shortly after takeoff, aicraft vibrabration caused the crew to reduce power and execute a return to the airport. Shortly after reducing power, the aircraft lost airspeed and entered a stall, crashing near the airport. All six crew and 64 of 65 passengers were killed. Three people initially survived the accident, but died within a month of the accident. The sole survivor was George Lamson, a 17-year-old boy who was thrown from the wreckage.
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  9. 3 January 1987; Varig 707-300; Flight 797, near Abidjan, Ivory Coast: The aircraft had an engine problem shortly after a night takeoff for an international flight from Abidjan to Rio de Janeiro. The aircraft crashed about 11 miles (18 km) from the airport. All 12 crew members and 38 of the 39 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was Neuba Tessoh, reportedly an Ivory Coast university professor.
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  10. 16 August 1987; Northwest MD82; Flight 255; Detroit, USA: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Detroit, MI to Phoenix, AZ. The crew neglected to properly set flaps for takeoff and a takeoff warning system that would have warned the crew of this problem was not working. As a result of the flap setting, the aircraft was unable to gain sufficient airspeed after taking off. The aircraft, struck several light poles and a building before crashing onto a nearby highway. All six crew and 148 of 149 passengers were killed. Two people on the ground were also killed. The sole survivor was Cecilia Cichan, a four-year-old girl. The girl's mother, father, and six-year-old brother, were also killed in the crash.
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    MD80 crashes

  11. 8 December1987; Peruvian Navy; Fokker F27; AE-560; near Lima, Peru: The aircraft was on a domestic charter flight from Pucallpa to Lima, Peru. The aircraft had been chartered by the Alianza Lima football (soccer) team The landing gear failed to lock during approach, and the crew performed a flyby to allow the air traffic controllers to observe the gear. The aircraft crashed into the sea during a subsequent approach. All 37 passengers, and five of the six crew members were killed. The sole survivor was crew member was the pilot, Lt. Edilberto Villar of the Peruvian Navy.
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  12. 14 November 1992; Vietnam Airlines Yak 40; Flight 474; Nha Trang, Vietnam The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang. During its approach to Nha Trang, it deviated from its assigned airway and struck a ridge. All six crew members and 24 of the 25 passengers were killed. A rescue team did not find either the crashed aircraft or the injured sole survivor, a woman named Annette Herfkens, for eight days.
    Extensive details on the accident
    Crashes for airlines of Asia

  13. 20 November 1993; Avioimpex Yak 42D; near Ohrid, Macedonia The aircraft was on a charter flight flight from Geneva, Switzerland to Skopje, Macedonia, but diverted to Ohrid due to weather at Skopje. The aircraft subsequently crashed into Mount Trojani near Ohrid. All eight crew members and 115 of the 116 passengers were killed.

  14. 17 March 1995; Intercontinental Colombia DC9-10; South of Cartegena, Colombia: The aircraft crashed in marsh 37 miles (60 km) from the airport. All five crew members and 46 of the 47 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was Erika Delgado, a nine-year old girl, who suffered a broken arm. Her parents and younger brother also died in the crash.
    DC9 crashes

  15. 3 September 1997; Vietnam Airlines Tu-134B; Flight 815; Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The aircraft was arriving from Ho Chi Minh City during heavy rain and crashed about one half mile (800 meters) short of the runway. All six crew members and 59 of the 60 passengers were killed. The lone survivor was a small child, reportedly a one-year-old boy.
    Crashes for airlines of Asia

  16. 15 December 1997; Tajikistan Airlines Tupolev 154B; Flight 3183; Sharjah, United Arab Emirates: The aircraft was on approach to Sharjah after a flight from Khodzhent, Tajikistan when it crashed in a river about 8 miles (13 km) from the airport. Eight of the nine crew members and all 77 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was the navigator, Sergei Petrov.
    Crashes of the airlines of the former Soviet Union

  17. 6 March 2003; Air Algérie 737-200; near Tamanrasset, Algeria: The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff on a domestic flight from Tamanrasset to Ghardaia. One of the engines reportedly caught fire during takeoff. Five of the six crew members and all 97 passengers were killed.
    Crashes for airlines of the Middle East and Africa

  18. 8 July 2003; Sudan Airways 737-200C; near Port Sudan, Sudan: The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff on a domestic flight from Port Sudan to Khartoum. The flight crew reported technical difficulties shortly after takeoff and the aircraft crashed about three miles (five km) from the airport. All 11 crew members and 105 of the 106 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was a three-year old boy, Mohamed al-Fateh , who suffered major injuries, including burns and a severed right leg. The boy's mother was killed in the crash as well.
    Boeing 737 plane crashes
    Fatal Events for Airlines of the Middle East and Africa

  19. 27 August 2006; Delta Connection (Comair) CRJ-100; Flight 5191; Lexington, KY: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Lexington, KY to Atlanta, GA. The aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff, about one half mile (800 m) from the end of the departure runway. The event occurred shortly before sunrise, and there was no reported precipitation at the time of the event. The aircraft took off on a shorter runway that is typically used by smaller private aircraft rather than the airport's main runway. Two of the three crew members and all 47 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was first officer James Polehinke.
    Fatal events involving Delta Airlines
    Fatal events Canadair CRJ aircraft

  20. 8 October 2008; Yeti Airlines; DHC-6 Twin Otter; 9N-AFE; flight 103; Lukla, Nepal: The aircraft was on a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, Nepal. During the landing, the aircraft struck some rocks, crashed, and caught fire. Two of the three crew members and all 16 passengers ere killed. The sole survivor was the captain, Surendra Kunwar.

  21. 30 June 2009; Yemenia Airlines; A310-300; Flight 626; near Moroni, Comoros Islands: The aircraft was on a flight from SanaÍa, Yemen to Moroni, Comoros Islands with 142 passengers and 11 crew on board. The aircraft crashed in the sea near the town of Mitsamiouli, which is on the main island of Grande Comore, in the early morning hours of June 30th. One passenger, a twelve-year-old girl named Bahia Bakari, was rescued about 10 hours after the crash, and is the sole survivor of this plane crash. The girl's mother was also killed in the crash.
    More Accident Details
    Fatal Events for Airlines from Africa and the Middle East
    Fatal A310 Plane Crashes
    Yemenia Airlines Wikipedia page

  22. 12 May 2010; Afriqiyah Airways; A330-200; Flight 771; near Tripoli, Libya: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) to Tripoli, Libya (TIP) with 93 passengers and 11 crew on board. All 11 crew members and 92 of the 93 passengers were killed. The aircraft crashed short of the runway during its landing attempt. The sole survivor was a nine-year-old Ductch boy, Ruben van Assoouw.
    More crash details
    Crashes for airlines from Africa and the Middle East
    Fatal A330 Plane Crashes
    Afriqiyah Airways Wikipedia page

  23. 25 August 2010; Filair; Let 410; 9Q-CCN; Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Kinshasa to Bandundu, and during its approach to Bandundu it crashed into a house about a mile from the airport. All three crew members and 18 of the 19 passengers were killed.
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  24. 4 April 2011; Georgian Airways Canadair CRJ-100; 4L-GAE; flight 834; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DNC): The aircraft was on a domestic unscheduled flight from Kisangani to N'Djili airport in Kinshasa, and was attempting an instrument approach to runway 24 around 14:00L during heavy rain and under low visibility conditions. The aircraft missed the runway, broke up, caught fire , and crashed into a forest while en route to its destination. There was one survivor among the four crew members and 29 passengers.

    At the time of the crash, the airplane operated on behalf of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). The sole survivor was Francis Mwamba, a Congolese journalist.
    CRJ plane crashes

  25. 6 September 2011; Aerocon; Metro III; CP-2548; flight 238; near Trinidad, Colombia: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Santa Cruz to Trinidad, Colombia, and crashed in the jungle during the approach to Trinidad. The crew was reportedly executing a non-precision approach. Both crew members and six of the seven passengers were killed. The sole survivor was found about a day after the crash.

  26. 7 September 2011; Yak Service Yak-42D; RA-42434; Yaroslavl, Russia: The aircraft was on a nonscheduled international flight from Yaroslavl, Russia to Minsk, Belarus when it crashed shortly after taking off from Yaroslavl Airport. The aircraft apparently ran off the runway took off several hundred meters beyond the end of the runway. After lifting off, the aircraft struck a radio mast about 450 meters from the end of the runway, and crashed at the edge of the Volga River. Seven of the eight crew members, and all 37 passengers were killed. Among the passengers were the coaching staff and players of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional hockey team. The team included several former NHL players as well as several members of the Russian national hockey team. The sole survivor was crew member Alexander Sizov, a flight engineer.
    More on this crash
    Crashes of airlines of the former Soviet Union

  27. 11 February 2014; Algerian Air Force; Lockheed C130H; near Constantine, Algeria: This military aircraft was carrying military family members on a domestic flight between Ouargla and Constantine, Algeria. While on approach, the aircraft crashed into Djebel Fertas mountain, which is about 30 km (18.6 mi) south of Constantine. All four crew members and 72 of the 73 passengers were killed. The sole survivor was Djelloul Nimer, reportedly a 21-year-old corporal.

Additional Information
Wikipedia has a more extensive list of sole survivor crashes that includes smaller aircraft, military and private aircraft, and events dating back to the 1930s.

Plane Crashes with a Sole Survivor
http://www.airsafe.com/events/survivor.htm -- Revised: 4 January 2014