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Avianca Flight 52 facts for kids

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Avianca Flight 52
Wreckage of the aircraft on the hillside in Cove Neck
Accident summary
Date January 25, 1990
Summary Crashed following fuel exhaustion
Place Cove Neck, New York
40°52′48″N 073°29′43″W / 40.88000°N 73.49528°W / 40.88000; -73.49528Coordinates: 40°52′48″N 073°29′43″W / 40.88000°N 73.49528°W / 40.88000; -73.49528
Passengers 149
Crew 9
Injuries (non-fatal) 85
Fatalities 73
Survivors 85
Aircraft type Boeing 707-321B
Airline/user Avianca
Registration HK-2016
Flew from El Dorado International Airport
Stopover José María Córdova Int'l Airport
Flying to John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport

Avianca Flight 52 was a scheduled flight from Bogotá to New York City. On January 25, 1990, the Boeing 707 (registered HK-2016) flying the route crashed after running out of fuel, killing 65 passengers and 8 crew members.


The incident aircraft, HK-2016, was as Boeing 707 which flew for Avianca. The aircraft was made in 1967 and bought by Pan Am. Avianca bought the plane from Pan Am in 1977. The aircraft had flew for a total of 61,000 hours and was 22 years old.


On January 25, 1990, the aircraft took off at 13:10 EST. The flight first flew to a stopover airport in Medellín. More fuel was put into the aircraft, totaling 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) of fuel, though other sources say that there was 82,000 pounds (37,000 kg) of fuel.

The flight took off from Medellín at 15:08. It then entered the United States at 17:28. The airplane circled near Norfolk, Virginia from 19:04 to 19:23. The aircraft was then put into a holding pattern at 20:18.

Air traffic control told Flight 52 that there was an indefinite hold at JFK, and told Flight 52 that they could go to their other airport, which is used in case a plane cannot reach its destination. The pilots denied this, and stated they did not have enough fuel to reach their other airport. At 20:46, the flight was cleared to go to JFK airport.

Attempt to land

At 21:00, JFK airport was experiencing light drizzle with fog. The landing gear was put out at 21:19. The first officer then told the pilot that the plane was below the glideslope, a way to measure the rate a plane is going down while landing. The plane then went above and below the correct glideslope. The plane experienced a wind shear and the pilots made a missed approach.

The cockpit and forward galley fragment at the crash site with the rest of the fuselage in the background

After taking a left turn, the captain told the first officer to tell air traffic control they were in an emergency. The first officer told control that "we'll try once again[;] we're running out of fuel," to which the controller replied, "okay." The captain then told the first officer again to "advise him we are [in an] emergency" and asked if he did, and the first officer replied, "Yes sir, I already advised him."

At 21:32, the aircraft lost all power in two out of four engines." The pilot told air traffic control that they had "just ah lost two engines[,] and ... we need priority please." The control tower told the pilot that they were clear for approach and the pilot acknowledged, which was the last time Flight 52 sent a message.


The flight crashed at 21:34. The aircraft hit trees and crashed onto a hill in Cove Neck, New York.

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