Today is the 20th anniversary of the crash of ValuJet Airlines flight 592 into the Florida Everglades. The 27-year old DC-9-32, flown by Captain Candalyn Kubeck and First Officer Richard Hazen, had departed Miami for ValuJet's Atlanta hub ten minutes earlier. Six minutes into the flight, passengers began to smell smoke concurrent with a loud bang in the pilots' headphones and a partial loss of electrical power. The NTSB's probable cause determination focused on "a fire in the airplane's class D cargo compartment that was initiated by the actuation of one or more oxygen generators being improperly carried as cargo."
ValuJet, which operated using the "Critter" call sign, had a history of safety issues. The Florida accident came just eleven months after an accident in which another ValuJet DC-9-32, operating flight 597 from Atlanta to Miami, was destroyed by fire after an uncontained engine failure and aborted takeoff. Exactly one month after the Florida crash the four-year old airline (which had been flying for three years) was grounded by the FAA. Operations resumed 3.5 months later on 26 September 1996 with a fleet of 15 aircraft, down from 52 before the crash. One year after that, the ValuJet name vanished and flights began operating as AirTran Airlines after a merger with Orlando-based AirTran Airways. Thirteen years later, on 27 September 2010, Southwest Airlines announced a plan to acquire AirTran Airlines.
Today's Featured Map shows the ValuJet Airlines route map as of 1 March 1996, two months before the crash, plus the location of the crash.