The crash also killed four motorists stuck in bridge traffic that afternoon. The tragedy was later blamed on an ice-impaired engine and instrument sensors. The Post’s Ashley Halsey III has more. Story clippings, photo and video from the days following the crash are after the jump:
• Jan. 16, 1982: An investigation begins. “An airport investigating team was being organized last night by the National Transportation Safety Board as other specialists continued to concentrate on whether Flight 90 left National with too much ice and snow on its wings and fuselage. Seventy-eight people died when the plane, a Boeing 737, struck the 14th Street bridge and plunged into the Potomac River.” — Douglas B. Feaver and John Burgess, Washington Post staff writers
• Jan. 18, 1982: Divers search for remains. “A small crowd watched the divers and the morgue, kept back from the bustle of the encampment by a rust-red fence. It was hard for the spectators to explain why they stood for hours in the raw river wind. There was something haunting in the image of the crews standing on the pontoon bridges staring into the river, the yellow and black lines disappearing beneath the surface, the divers sinking amid trails of bubbles.
You knew the frogmen were gliding slowly past the windows and the aisles of a jet where dozens of passengers sat trapped in water and darkness. You could not help but remember the times that you had waited at the end of a runway to take off, suppressing fear and superstition. Watching the personal effects fished from the river, you would be reminded of a tie, a shoe, or a pale blue sweater of your own.” — Chip Brown, Washington Post staff writer
• Video: Washington Post reporters Jura Koncius and Peter Perl, who covered the crash for the paper 30 years ago, reflect on the events that day.
• Tell us: What are your memories of that day? Tell us by using #AirFlorida on Twitter or leave them in the comments below.