65 years ago on February 1st, 1957
Northeast Air Flight 823 crashes on Rikers Island after takeoff at LaGuardia, killing 20 and injuring 78
Snow had delayed the Miami-bound Douglas DC-6A over three hours, gathering on the wings so heavily that the plane, with all passengers aboard, was moved to a hangar where 12 workers used brooms to completely clear it of snow. Visibility was so low when the plane finally attempted takeoff that the crew had to fly based only on the plane's instrument readings. As it left LaGuardia heading north, the plane turned west and did not climb high enough, clipping trees on Rikers Island and crashing less than a minute after takeoff. It slid approximately 1,500 feet and came to a stop on Rikers Island, where prison employees and inmates trusted with extra freedoms raced toward the flaming wreckage as passengers escaped through holes torn along both sides of the plane. Finding no mechanical problems, the incident report concluded that the crash was a result of the pilot's failure to "properly observe and interpret his flight instruments and maintain control of his aircraft".
In recognition of their participation in rescue efforts, 57 inmates received either reductions to their prison sentences or earned their release.