The Curse of an Overlooked Switch

RJ Carr
5 min readJun 20, 2023
photo: CanvaPro

The morning was foggy and visibility was extremely low in Boston, Massachusetts. On a normal day, if one stands at the pier on Castle Island, a peninsula at the end of the South Boston neighborhood of that Hub of New England, one can watch various commercial aircraft take off and land at Logan Airport.

July 31, 1973, in the heart of the New England Summer was one of those days when sound pierced the clouds covering the city including the peninsula, the airport and the harbor. Planes taking off and landing were hidden to the naked eye by a blanket of fog.

Routine flight and an unscheduled stop

Delta Flight 723 was making its morning landing coming from Burlington, Vermont by way of an unscheduled stop in Manchester, New Hampshire . Due to the fog covering much of the New England area, the DC-9 with 88 souls on board had to pick up other passengers from a previously canceled flight in the Granite State. Essentially, the aircraft was transporting passengers from the west extreme, almost, of New England to the mid shoreline of the Northeastern group of 6 states by way of the almost center of the region.

According to previous passengers, the pilot was experienced in flying them South during the winter and North in the Spring. He was a former Northeast Airlines pilot who transported many “snowbirds” to Florida. A snowbird is a resident of the North until winter and then lives in the South.

Delta Airlines bought Northeast in 1972 and through the purchase entered the Boston market. Many of those pilots now flew for a growing airline out of the South.

Flight 723 was a DC-9 built six years earlier.

It would seem to be a routine landing on Boston’s Logan Airport landing on runway 4R jutting out into the harbor, away from the famous Mystic Tobin bridge and gateway to the western parts of the metro area.

Fog hid it all

However, at the last moment, the simple easy flight from Burlington ended instantly in disaster. The landing gear hit a seawall at the end of the runway and the whole plane flipped, crashed and disintegrated. Ultimately, all passengers would die with one hanging on for five months until he finally succumbed to his injuries in…