columbia to go up the east coast of the united states. but as it happens, this was chandra and the was a nor'easter along the east coast. all kinds of planes were delayed at night. so here they were on a relatively routine flight from colombia to do your, the captain of the plane was a man named caveat is. they are flying this plane and they start to get held up by air traffic control. and they are held up because the weather is so bad. very, very thick fogs and high winds. they are holed up about 20 minutes or then above atlantic city for 30 minutes. and then again outside of jfk, 40 miles outside of jfk for an additional 30 minutes. so after about an hour and a quarter of delay, they are cleared for landing.
they come down near the runway at jfk. and they encountered really severe windshear when there are about 500 feet above the ground. now windshear, i'm sure most of you know, a situation where the wind is flowing very heavily in the face of the aircraft so you add power to maintain constant speed. and then at a certain point the wind just dropped out. all of a sudden you're going to pass. normally you're not in a situation, what happens is the autopilot will adjust and you will be able to land safely in way. the autopilot for reasons we don't understand was turned off, possibly because it was malfunctioning. so the pilots executed what's called a go around which is simply when you're coming into land and you realize you can't make the runway, so you pull up and you circle around and they made a big circle. they read approach for a second landing. and as they were flying towards jfk, to come in for the second
landing, the flight engineer cries out, flameout on engine number for. and then, flameout on engine number two. one by one, engines were just blowing. the captain says at that point, show me the runway because he thinks if we're close enough to jfk i can guide this crippled plane in fulani and it will not matter that we're losing all of our engines. they can't see the runway because it's fall, and also they are nowhere near jfk. they are still 14 miles away from the airport. so the crash. they come down and actually crash in the backyard of john mcenroe's father's estate on today on long island. 73 people die and it's one of the worst accident in new york area for many years. the next day of course the flight investigators come and they comb through the wreckage and debris tree the blackbox, and they start their investigation. typically, these investigations can take weeks to uncover the cause of the crash. in this case it doesn't take weeks.
in fact, they know by the next morning what caused the crash. it has nothing to do with the plane. the plane was in perfectly working or that it has nothing to do with a pilot. they weren't drunk or high or sick to get was nothing to do with the weather even though the weather was bad that i. and had nothing to do with air traffic control. they didn't make any mistakes. because of the crash was simple. to put it in the aviation world, it was fuel exhaustion. they had run out of gas. when i said in the beginning of this was a typical crash, i didn't mean that planes run out of you all the time. they don't. what i meant by saying it was a typical crash, was that it took on the form of -- did not have a catastrophic polls. we often think that accidents like plane crashes are catastrophes in the sense that something blows up in the cockpit and the captain is thrown back against his seat and he says, dear god, and the
flight attendant comes rushing in and hurt faces ashen. passengers are screaming. that's our mental image of what a plane crash is. that's what we've seen in hollywood. nothing could be further from the truth. plane crashes rarely take that form at all. what they tend to be far more often is a very subtle process that begins very slowly and gradually overtakes the pilots until the plane ends up in some kind of crisis. >> this was a portion of the booktv program. you can view the entire program and many other booktv programs online. go to booktv.org. type the name of the author or book into the search area in the upper left hand corner of the page. select the watch link. now you can view the entire program. you might also explore the recently on booktv box,