Remembering Aloha Airlines | Flight 243 Disaster

We were reminded of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 on its 33rd anniversary this week. See the fascinating video below from the amazing disaster and what was dubbed “miracle landing” below. Do you remember Aloha Airlines flight 243?

What happened to Aloha Flight 243.

On April 28, 1988, a roof rupture occurred during mid-flight, and an eighteen-foot section was torn off, extending from behind the cockpit to the wing. The cockpit door broke off, and the sky was visible from within the aircraft. The cause of the accident was stated as “explosive decompression caused by metal fatigue and maintenance error.”

The plane amazingly landed safely on Maui after being rerouted, although passengers and crew sustained 65 injuries.

There was one fatality, Clarabelle Lansing. The flight attendant with nearly 40 years of experience was ejected mid-air from the plane following explosive in-flight decompression. Her body was never found.

A safe landing was not the least bit certain since one of the engines failed, and the crew was uncertain about the landing gear as well. Passengers were evacuated on Maui via the emergency slides.

The 19-year old plane had only flown just 35,000 hours at the time of the accident. It had, however, amassed almost 90,000 take-offs and landings due to the unique, short duration of Hawaii interisland flights. That aircraft was reported to have the second-highest number of flight cycles of any 737 at the time of the accident.

Aloha Airlines

History of Aloha Airlines.

Aloha Airlines was highly regarded here in Hawaii. They started business as Trans-Pacific Airlines in 1946, flying a single DC-3. The company was widely seen as the people’s choice interisland carrier for more than 60 years.

Then, following years of struggling, Aloha ultimately went bankrupt and ceased operations. Subsequently, Mesa Airways attempted unsuccessfully to acquire the name for its also now defunct Go! Airlines, which operated here in Hawaii.

Aloha Airlines lost direction and had inadequate financial resources. They continued to the end operating an aging fleet of aircraft. Aloha Airlines also ventured into the mainland to Hawaii market without adequate preparation or resulting success. They entered bankruptcy in 2004, and although they did emerge briefly in 2006, the once iconic carrier never recovered.

Amazing video coverage and movie about Aloha Airlines flight 243.

1. CBS evening news covered the incident that day:


17 thoughts on “Remembering Aloha Airlines | Flight 243 Disaster”

  1. I have searched for the profile of Robert “Bob” Schornstheimer, captain of the plane but I didn’t get it. I just love him. The composure to be able to land that plane in state is amazing. His faith is divine.

  2. Yes, we remember them fondly. We used Aloha right to the very end for flights from the mainland into Hawaii. I guess they never had the numbers to stay in business.
    Aloha Guys

  3. Of course they blamed maintenance. We get blamed for everything. It was caused by metal fatigue due to the constant pressurizing and de-pressurizing of the aircraft in addition to the salt air the aircraft was flying in there in Hawaii. It’s amazing the flight crew manannged to save the aircraft and land it with no further loss of life.

    1. I feel the same way! This is not the first article highlighting flight issues—I know this is news and we want to honor a life but at the expense of discouraging us about to visit! Please stop creating anxiety! I appreciate the information on making our way there with correct info on testing, etc…but why these reports??

  4. Aloha!

    I recall the news reports when the Aloha tragedy happened. My late husband and I came to Hawaii frequently and often flew Aloha. The crew was always friendly and helpful. We felt so badly that day.

    Mahalo nui for remembering Aloha! And thank you for all your good work on Hawai’i travel.


    1. Hi Lynn.

      Thanks for the nice words, your many comments, and for sharing your memories of Aloha Airlines.


  5. I hope the gov announces that people will be available to avoid the quarantine and testing with the covid19 vaccine from the mainland travel in June
    Do people have to upload their cdc card to the app
    Or they can just show the cdc vaccine card at the airport

    1. Hi Greg.

      We are still waiting for the state on these questions and will update you as soon as we learn more,


  6. Thanks for the memory! I hadn’t seen pictures of Flight 243 but I certainly remember it. Astounding landing!

    Another part of Aloha’s demise was Mesa Airlines, which came into the inter island market and offered nearly free flights, undercutting a major source of income for Aloha.

    RIP, Aloha! I will never forget the nonstop flights from John Wayne Airport (Orange County) to Lihue, Kauai. Sweet!

  7. Around that same time (within a year or so), a large skin section in first class of a United Boeing 747 from Honolulu to Sydney broke off soon after takeoff from HNL. It thankfully landed safely. It also was metal fatigue in the rivets.

  8. I loved Aloha! I used to travel several times per year from the Bay Area to Hawaii on business. While I always flew United on the mainland, when Aloha added the OAK – HNL flight and partnered with the United Mileage plus program, I switched to Aloha right away. OAK is much more convenient to my home in the East Bay, and the service on Aloha was the best. Plus, since I had to island hop while in Hawaii, Aloha sold those coupon books that made it very convenient to get out and back as needed for work. Miss those guys.

  9. Our BEST flight to/from the Big Island of Hawaii was with Aloha in 2005. Great flight, friendly crew, good food (a REAL MEAL), warm cookies and milk an hour before landing each direction. We were able to fly SWA to Santa Ana and catch Aloha from there – so, an entirely pleasant trip all the way around. Haven’t had one nearly as pleasant since. American left us stranded in LA and United left us stranded in Chicago.

    I happen to like the name – not sure what good that will do.

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