Survivors Remember Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Crash

Aviation consultant Bennie Benitez said there were many positive safety elements that came out of 401, like flash lights on all planes.

By Willard Shepard
|  Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011  |  Updated 11:04 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Almost 40 years ago, Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed. The plane descended out of the sky as pilots were distracted over a landing gear warning light.

Almost 40 years ago, Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed. The plane descended out of the sky as pilots were distracted over a landing gear warning light.

Almost 40 years ago, Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed. The plane descended out of the sky as pilots were distracted over a landing gear warning light.

"You couldn't even say goodbye to each other, that's how fast it happened,” said crash survivor Ron Infantino, whose wife Lily died in the crash. "Well it’s difficult, we were only married 20 days, and we were both 26 years old, and she was my first love to be honest with you.”
 
Infantino served in Vietnam, but it was this flight, not war that brought him closest to death.

Infantino and three of the flight attendants who survived the crash spoke to NBC Miami as the 39th anniversary of the flight approached.

Patricia McQuigg, Beverly Raposa, and Mercy Ruiz joined Infantino this week at a program to teach airline experts and passengers the lessons learned from a dark night in the Everglades.
 
“And then it was like being in a tornado, I was in the tail and we were rotating,” said Beverly Raposa, a flight attendant.

Her message on life: Never take anything for granted.

“Tell people you love them. And never go out of the house angry. Tomorrow is not a given,” she said.

"I love my profession so I overcame that part of my life. I'm just blessed. I have a beautiful family, and I got my wings back, and I just keep moving  forward,” said McQuigg.

McQuigg and Raposa went on to continue flying, with McQuigg still working in the profession. The disaster that killed 100 people became the foundations of the safety procedures on airlines.

“There's so many good things, positive things came out of Flight 401, that this plane crash can never happen again with all the safety features put on it,” said Infantino.

Aviation consultant Bennie Benitez said there were many positive safety elements that came out of 401, like flash lights on all planes.

“We're trying to build a memorial out there to try to honor that not only the survivals but the ones who died,” ron

Infantino and the flight attendants will meet with airline experts and the public to tell them never to become complacent. The group will also try to raise funds for a memorial to honor those who died.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Get Our New iPad App
Now optimized for iPad, NBC 6... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out