Revealing the dark truth that aviation safety improves one crash at a time, Mayday investigates legendary aviation disasters to find out what went wrong and why. Based on cockpit voice recorders, accident reports and eyewitness accounts, every episode also features interviews, state-of-the-art CGI and gripping reenactments.
En route from Indonesia to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Flight 780 is high over the South China Sea when both of the plane's engines fail, turning the Airbus A-330 into a 200-ton glider. Declaring a Mayday-and determined to avoid a disastrous ocean ditching-the captain takes over manual control of the aircraft and manages to power up only one engine by very slowly increasing the throttle. But then the misfiring engine won't let him slow down for landing.
Flying just a few hundred feet above the desert, six single-engine WW2 fighter planes get into position for the highlight event of the Reno Air Races. And with 30,000 spectators watching from below, they fly an eight-mile oval at close to 450 miles per hour. Competing in a highly-modified P-51 Mustang called 'The Galloping Ghost', local legend Jimmy Leeward is determined to set a new speed record. But half-way through the race, his plane suddenly pitches up, spirals out of control, and crashes onto the tarmac in front of the stands. It's one of the worst air race crashes of all time, and investigators call on the pilot's close friend to help them...
En route from Amsterdam to Cardiff, Wales, the crew of KLM Cityhopper Flight 433 report an engine problem and head back to the airport. But just as they're about to touch down, the dual turboprop banks sharply to the right, the wing grazes the ground, and the aircraft crashes and breaks apart on a field next to the runway. Of the 24 people on board, two passengers and the captain are dead. And when investigators from the Dutch Safety Board pore over the evidence, they determine that a minor circuitry problem sparked a cascading series of fatal errors.
An American cargo plane attempts a difficult landing at the US naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With the runway just a few meters from the armed border, the maneuver requires avoiding Cuban airspace. But something goes terribly wrong on its final approach, and the DC-8 crashes at the end of the runway. At first, investigators wonder if Cuba somehow played a role in the crash, but they eventually uncover an invisible culprit that threatens the lives of cargo pilots everywhere.
En route to the Dominican Republic with more than 87,000 pounds of denim, Fine Air Cargo Flight 101 takes off from Miami. But just moments later, the plane crashes to the ground, careens across a freeway, and plows into a building. Hundreds of bystanders witness the carnage, and though investigators are determined to figure out what happened, it will take an anonymous tip to break the case wide open.
Just minutes after taking off from Bucharest, Romania, Tarom Flight 371 banks sharply to the left, veers off course, and nosedives into a farmer's field. It's the deadliest air disaster in the country's history, and rumors of a bomb on board quickly reach a frenzied pitch in the country's newly free press. Romanian investigators call in the FBI to determine if it was an accident or an act of murder. But it's ultimately the captain's own voice that reveals the underlying cause of the disaster.
Continental Airlines Flight 1404 is speeding down the runway at Denver International Airport when the aircraft suddenly careens off the runway, crashes, and bursts into flame. Everyone on board escapes death, and then it's up to investigators to figure out what happened. At first, clues point to a deadly mechanical problem previously found on other Boeing 737s. But investigators eventually find the true culprit in the Rocky Mountains.
En route from Moscow to Perm, Russia, Aeroflot Nord Flight 821 is on its final approach when the plane nosedives and crashes onto the trans-Siberian railway. All that's left of the Boeing 737 is charred wreckage. All 88 people on board are confirmed dead. At first, investigators suspect a known design flaw in the aircraft's rudder. But as they dig deeper, they make a series of shocking discoveries that will result in calls to transform the country's aviation system.
With Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team on board, LaMia Flight 2933 is on its final approach to Medellin, Columbia when the crew suddenly declares a fuel emergency. Before air traffic control even has time to clear a path, the plane crashes on the crest of a mountain, killing nearly everyone on board. With the soccer world in mourning, investigators face incredible pressure to figure out what happened. And as they pore over the evidence, they uncover a disturbing tale of greed and a deadly gamble.
En route from Washington, D.C. to Columbus, Ohio, United Express Flight 6291 is on its final approach when the high-performance twin turboprop crashes just a mile from the runway. Three survivors emerge from the inferno, but the disaster claims the lives of the three crewmembers and the other two passengers on board. The charred remains leave little for investigators to work with. That is, until the cockpit voice recorder reveals the smoking gun.