(born 1959) was the youngest flight attendant
on Air Florida Flight 90
, which crashed minutes after takeoff during severe cold weather conditions from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (then Washington National Airport
) on January 13, 1982. The doomed plane failed to gain altitude, crashed into the 14th Street Bridge
, and then plunged through a thick layer of ice into the Potomac River
, killing 78 people, including 4 people in cars on the bridge.
Duncan, 22 years old, was seated in a rear jump seat and was wearing a seat belt
as required by procedures during the takeoff. Only she and five passengers did not sustain fatal injuries during the initial and secondary impacts. Afterward, only the broken-off tail section of B-737 aircraft remained afloat. Finding herself alive in the cold water, Duncan assisted the other survivors as they clung to a small part of the tail section in the ice-choked river. She inflated the only flotation device they could find and passed it to one of the more injured passengers. A single rescue helicopter of the U.S. Park Police
arrived about 20 minutes later and, with assistance from bystanders, rescued all but one (Arland D. Williams, Jr.
) of the six persons in the water.
In the NTSB
final report the NTSB recognized Duncan, stating:
After recovering from her injuries, Duncan returned to flying for less than two years before beginning church work ministering to children. She received a degree in early childhood education... Read More