Remembering Flight 587, 18 Years Later


On Monday, November 12, 2001, many in Rockaway were home as it was the day Veterans Day was being observed.  It began as a normal, beautiful day in Rockaway, however shortly after 9 a.m., that would change for many. At 9:16 a.m., an Airbus A300 came crashing down in Belle Harbor and the day became one that would forever be remembered in Rockaway history.

As American Airlines Flight 587 crashed, its engines were flung, one landing on Beach 128th and another, nearly missing the gas tanks of Bulloch’s gas station on Beach 129th Street. The body of the Dominican Republic-bound plane, directly hit at Beach 131st and Newport Avenue. As firefighters took on the blazing homes and burning remnants of the plane, the smell of fuel filled the air among the confusion, and many in Rockaway feared the worst as the ripples of the massive terror attack that took place just two months before, still resonated through the neighborhood recovering from that loss. This was another terror attack, many thought immediately. Investigations would find that the crash wasn’t an act of terror, yet an act of pilot error.

However, the impact of the crash of Flight 587 still brought waves of pain once again, as great loss was felt. The impact killed all 260 people (251 passengers and nine crewmembers) on board American Airlines Flight 587. On the ground, five Rockaway neighbors perished; Thomas and Helen Concannon, Kathie Lawler, and her son, Christopher, and Franco Pomponio.

On Tuesday, November 12, they will all be remembered. This year’s Flight 587 Memorial Ceremony will be held at the Beach 116th Street Memorial, beginning at 9 a.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to attend. The ceremony is open to all.