Mike Snyder

Mike Snyder Media and Political Strategist, Storyteller, Television Journalist, Voice Actor, Problem Solver

Gone in a gust. This week 37 years ago,  August 2, 1985,  the windshield wipers of my car were working hard to clear my ...
08/05/2022

Gone in a gust. This week 37 years ago, August 2, 1985, the windshield wipers of my car were working hard to clear my view, the welcomed rain was finally cooling off a run of very hot weeks. As I cruised east on Airport freeway toward Euless, a sudden and very dark cloud of smoke started rising below the storm clouds, roiling up from the north end of DFW Airport. My instincts kicked in and I mashed the accelerator and raced into the south entrance of the airport. I followed an ambulance at high speed as it broke through the south toll gates and two police cars joined in.

The cloud of smoke continued to grow, and as we zoomed through the north toll gates a pit grew in my stomach. I saw a huge jumbo jet, a Lockheed L-1011, broken and burning. Delta Airlines flight 191 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida had slammed to the ground and into the north side water tanks while attempting to land in a thunderstorm. We later learned a microburst of wind from the storm cloud, called a wind shear, blew straight down pushing the big plane to the ground.

I ran from my car, following the first EMT's and police officers to arrive, and what I saw and smelled haunts me still today. As I carefully walked into the crash site, there were bodies and parts of bodies strewn across the field mixed in with burning chunks of the plane. The smell of burning jet fuel and airplane parts was mixed with the acrid odor of burning flesh. The memory is still so fresh, it seems like just yesterday. I spent the next 3 days right there, reporting on the recovery of bodies and the initial investigation of what caused the accident.

Only 27 people survived, 135 onboard were killed, as was a driver whose car was crushed on Highway 114 as Flight 191 slammed to the ground. I reported on the investigation that followed for months upon months, my thoughts often drifted to the horror the passengers and flight crew experienced as the big plane went down. I flew quite a bit for NBC-5 back then, and it took a while for me to get comfortable again getting into our helicopter or even flying commercial. Witnessing death first hand, on a scale this large and severe, never really fades from your memory. I can only imagine the memories and horrors of the first responders who I followed into the crash site. The calamity that day changed me, for the first time I realized just how fragile we humans really are and how, at any moment, we could be gone.

The images in the slide show below haunt me to this day. — at DFW international Airport.

Gone in a gust. August 2, 1985, the windshield wipers of my car were working hard to clear my view, the welcomed rain was finally cooling off a run of very h...

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