Aloha Airlines Flight 243: Flying Topless

On April 28, 1988, Aloha Airlines Flight 243 was preparing to leave from Hilo on its way to Honolulu. Prior to takeoff, the Boeing 737 underwent a normal walk-around pre-flight inspection by the first officer, who didn’t find anything unusual. When the airplane climbed to 24,000 feet, an explosive decompression took place. At that moment, the roof flew out from the aircraft and 58-year-old flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing, who was in row 5, was ejected into the void. Co-Pilot Madeline Tompkins was flying the aircraft when the incident occurred, but then Capt. Robert Schornstheimer took over and steered the aircraft into an emergency decent to Maui, managing to land it safely. In addition to the flight attendant fatality, seven passengers and another flight attendant had serious injuries. An FAA investigation revealed that just before departure damage inside the aircraft was spotted by a passenger, who failed to mention it to the crew. It was a crack in the fuselage, which turned out to be a fissure in the upper row of rivets along a joint between the cabin door and the jet bridge hood. The NTSB determined that the failure of Aloha Airlines management to supervise properly its maintenance force was the ultimate cause of the incident.