On 12 November 2001 at 9.14 am, an American Airlines Airbus A300B4-605R (N14053) took off from New York JFK Airport destination the Dominican Republic as AA587. The aircraft, however, crashed shortly after takeoff into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, a borough of New York City, killing 260 passengers and five people on the ground.
The location of the accident and the fact that it took place two months and one day after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan initially spawned fears of another terrorist attack.
Terrorism was officially ruled out as the cause by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which instead attributed the disaster to the first officer’s overuse of rudder controls in response to wake turbulence, or jet wash, from a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400 that took off minutes before it. According to the NTSB, the aggressive use of the rudder controls by the co-pilot caused the vertical stabilizer to snap off the plane, along with the plane’s two engines separating from intense force before impact.
Full story: American Airlines Flight 587