A Pacific Southwest Airlines jet collides in mid-air with a small Cessna over San Diego, killing 153 people on September 25, 1978.
David Lee Boswell and his instructor, Martin Kazy, were in the process of a flying lesson in a single-engine Cessna 1732 practicing approaches at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field airport. After two successful passes, Boswell aimed the Cessna toward the Montgomery Field airport northeast of San Diego.
At the same time, Pacific Southwest Flight 182 was approaching San Diego. The jet, a Boeing 727, was carrying 144 passengers and crew members from Sacramento, after a stopover in Los Angeles. Though air-traffic controllers at Lindbergh had told Boswell to keep the Cessna below 3,500 feet altitude as it flew northeast, the Cessna did not comply and changed course without informing the controllers.
The conflict-alert warning system began to flash at the air-traffic control center. However, because the alert system went off so frequently with false alarms, it was ignored. The controllers believed that the pilots of the 727 had the Cessna in view. Within a minute, the planes collided.
The fuel in the 727 burst into a massive fireball upon impact. The planes nose-dived straight into San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, destroying 22 homes and killing seven people on the ground. All 144 people on the 727 were killed, as well as both of the Cessna’s pilots.