ValuJet Accident
Florida Everglades
May 11, 1996

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On May 11, 1996 ValuJet Flight 592, a DC-9, caught fire and crashed into the Florida Everglades near Miami, Florida. All 105 passengers, and five flight crew members perished. Initial efforts to recover the aircraft wreckage were hampered by the swampy terrain. A specially adapted pontoon type vehicle designed to operate in the Everglades environment was used to assist in hauling heavy wreckage. A barge with a backhoe bucket is shown here working the main crater.


Airboats were used to transport personnel working in the swamp and to haul smaller pieces to the decontamination stations. A surveyed grid search was conducted with personnel poking through the saw grass mat looking for wreckage. Personnel were suited up in Tyvek suits, double rubber gloved, hip waders and surgical masks while working in 90 degree heat and humidity. Most wreckage was recovered in this manner.


Investigation revealed that chemical oxygen generators (shown here) were responsible for the fire in the forward cargo compartment of the DC-9. The fire penetrated the passenger compartment above the cargo compartment.


Wreckage was transported to Tamiami Airport for layout. The forward cargo hold (shown here) was reconstructed using framing, chicken wire, and recovered airframe wreckage. The layout revealed the most intense portion of the fire was on the forward left side of the cargo compartment.