SEATTLE -- This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the crash of Alaska Flight 261. The MD-83 jet was traveling from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco and Seattle when it plunged into the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles.
Family and friends are preparing to mark Sunday's 10-year anniversary of the crash that claimed everyone on board with a special ceremony Sunday.
It was January 31st, 2000, when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plunged into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Fifty of the 88 people on board were from our area, many returning from family vacations in Mexico.
Minutes before the crash, the pilots reported problems with the MD-83's tail-section horizontal stabilizer, which controls the plane's up and down movements. Investigators found the planes jackscrew, the component that operates the stabilizer was stripped, causing the part's failure. The National Transportation Safety Board found Alaska Airline's failure to properly lubricate and check the jackscrew led to the plane's crash.
Alaska Airlines and Boeing accepted legal responsibility for the crash and the case never went to trial, but because of the crash, the jackscrew is one of the most scrutinized parts of the plane. Since the crash Alaska Airlines also made sweeping changes to its maintenance program that has led to a better safety record.
For families that has only been slight comfort. More comforting has been the bond they've formed since the crash. Many are traveling to California for a memorial at the crash site this weekend. There will be a candle lighting ceremony at Rachel's Park on Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The park was named for Rachel Pearson, one of the victims of Flight 261.