Associating numbers with superstitious beliefs is nothing new. Hotels, for example, choose to leave out the 13th floor in fear of bringing misfortune to their establishment. You’ve probably heard of Friday the 13th as well. The dreaded day has even given birth to a mental condition known as paraskavedekatriaphobia, the actual fear of Friday the 13th.
Thirteen may be an unlucky number for most cultures, but did you know that there are countries that have wanted to forget certain numerical figures as well? For the Japanese, the number 9 has long been synonymous with torture. The Chinese, on the other hand, have banned the number 4 in their buildings out of superstition.
In the United States, there is a specific numerical figure with an ominous history. We’re talking about the numbers 191. A total of five flights with the number 191 have ended in fatal crashes throughout American history, including American Airlines Flight 191, which claimed the lives of 273 people.
More than 30 years after this tragedy, JetBlue Airways Flight 191 made headlines after its pilot suffered a panic attack. The precise cause of his mental breakdown remains unknown, prompting numerologists to believe that there could be something far more sinister behind it.
So were JetBlue Airways and American Airlines Flights 191 cursed? Or were they all just an unlikely coincidence? You decide.
The Cursed Journey of Flight 191
American Airlines Flight 191: America’s Most Devastating Plane Crash
Before the devastating tragedy, American Airlines Flight 191 was a regular passenger flight that operated from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago to Los Angeles International Airport.
The incident took place on May 25, 1979. At 14:50 CDT, Flight 1919 was cleared to taxi to the runway. The maintenance crews did not notice anything wrong during pushback, engine start, or taxi. It wasn’t until the airplane hit takeoff speed that disaster struck.
According to the Tribune newspaper, the aircraft “burst into a massive pillar of flame and smoke that could be seen up to 8 miles away.” The explosion was so massive that a rain of fire showered around nearby areas. All 270 people on board and 2 people on the ground died.
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Loss of control and improper maintenance was said to be the cause of the engine detachment. It didn’t take so long for the media to name the incident as the worst air crash in US aviation history.
The David Booth Prophecy
David Booth didn’t think much about prophecies before May of 1979. He was an average family man who led a fairly normal life. But everything changed when Booth began having dreams of an impending aircraft disaster.
“On the morning of May 16th, I had a dream. I’m looking out to my right over a field and there’s this great big jet and it wasn’t making the noise that it should. It wasn’t a feeling of impending doom or that it was going to crash or anything. It just wasn’t making the sound that it should. It just turns, with its wing up in the air, goes on its back and then it goes straight into the ground and explodes. When the explosion would begin to die out, that’s when I would begin to wake up,” he said.
Disturbed, Booth informed American Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration. He initially expected to be laughed at and shown the door. But in stark contrast, both parties took Booth’s prophecies seriously. The only problem was that Booth could not name a date to when the accident would occur.
Sadly, even his foreshadowing couldn’t prevent American Airlines Flight 191 from happening. Authorities later called in Booth for questioning. Not because he was a suspect, but because they were fascinated with his prophetic dreams.
JetBlue flight 191: Pilot Suffers a Panic Attack
After JetBlue Airways Flight 191 took off on March 27, 2012, things were running smoothly for the next three hours. The plane was en route from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Out of the blue, veteran pilot Capt. Clayton Osbon started to make strange comments to the plane’s first officer, Jason Dowd.
“We need to take a leap of faith,” 49-year-old Osbon said seriously. “We’re not going to Vegas. And I can’t be held responsible when this plane crashes.”
Osbon later began to sweat profusely while ranting about terrorism, religion, and repenting for sins. It was all the signs and symptoms of a panic attack.
Dowd managed to lock Osbon out of the cockpit when the captain leaped out of his seat and rushed toward the cabin area. While there, Osbon would continue his bizarre behavior, even telling the terrified crowd that there was a bomb onboard. He had to be held down by the cabin crew and passengers.
Fortunately, Dowd had full control of the aircraft. He managed to land it at the nearest airport without any casualties or injury.
In the aftermath, Osbon was banned from flying for good. He was also spared from criminal charges after doctors found that he was too insane to stand trial.
JetBlue Airways claimed that Osbon’s dangerous meltdown was a result of sleep deprivation and a partial brain seizure.
Other Flight 191 tragedies
X-15 Flight 191 took off for a test on November 15, 1967. It ended in tragedy after the aircraft broke apart minutes after launch due to technical difficulties, instantly killing the pilot, Michael J. Adams.
Delta Airlines Flight 191 was also a huge tragedy that will haunt American aviation forever. On August 2, 1985, the plane made its way from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Los Angeles. It encountered a microburst just as it made a stop to land at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The intense downdraft ended up propelling the aircraft to the ground, claiming the lives of 137 people.
Finally, there was Prinair flight 191. The Puerto Rican flag carrier aircraft crashed while attempting to land at Mercedita Aiport. The incident left five people dead and hundreds injured.