We Honor United Flight 811 Crew
February 24, 2017 — This year, United Airlines will retire the 747 fleet, which closes out a monumental period of aviation history, including the harrowing events of flight 811 on February 24, 1989.
That day, the "Queen of the Skies" was flown with 3 pilots and 15 Flight Attendants while carrying 337 passengers on what was supposed to be Honolulu to Auckland.
Sixteen minutes after take off, passing between 22,000 and 23,000 feet, the forward cargo door blew out, punctured a hole in the fuselage and severely damaged number 3 and 4 engines. Two rows of seats were ripped out of the cabin in the explosive decompression, resulting in the deaths of nine passengers. Seat belts saved the other passengers while one Flight Attendant clung to a seat leg and another held tight to the upper deck steps. Debris ripped through the cabin and Flight Attendants prepared for an emergency evacuation. The Pilots maneuvered the plane to an altitude at which everyone could breathe while whipping around for a return emergency landing in Honolulu.
Evacuation was carried out and all remaining passengers and Flight Attendants exited the plane in less than 45 seconds. Every Flight Attendant suffered some injury during the evacuation, ranging from scratches to a dislocated shoulder - but they performed their role as first responders with heroic grace.