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Swamp A Cushion In ‘72 Crash

Nearly 24 years ago almost at the exact spot of Saturday’s ValuJet crash near Miami, another plane smashed into the Florida Everglades. But that crash produced a far different result. Good fortune and a dramatic rescue effort led to the survival of 77 of the 176 people on board, and the episode inspired a television movie.

On Friday, Dec. 29, 1972, at 11:42 p.m., Eastern Airlines Flight 401, a wide-body L-1011 bound for Miami from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, slammed into the swampy Everglades about 17 miles northwest of Miami International Airport.

Investigators at the time said the Everglades’ soft, muddy bottom cushioned the plane’s crash, allowing a high number of survivors.

Rescue workers had to contend with conditions similar to those at the ValuJet crash site - knee-deep muck, razor-sharp saw grass and alligators in a remote area.

An investigation determined the crash, which was made into a movie called “The Ghost of Flight 401,” was caused by human error.