Smithsonian Channel’s ‘Air Disasters’ Is the Aviation Version of ‘CSI’


“Viewers usually have a visceral reaction to Air Disasters: They either can’t get enough, or can’t watch at all,” says exec producer Dan Wolf.

I’ll vouch for that! I have one friend who shares my obsession with this series, which stages reenactments (above) of the final moments of doomed flights and the investigations that followed. Another pal thinks we’re both insane: What flier wants to know all the ways human or mechanical error can bring down a plane?!

But this series isn’t a disaster movie of the week. As Wolf puts it, “It’s kind of the CSI of aviation.”

Every episode is a mystery to be solved. In the April 25 Season 16 premiere, lightning strikes Loganair 6780 as it circles the Shetland Islands in 2014. But why does the turbojet nosedive and come within seconds of plunging into the North Sea before the pilots can pull up?

Interviews with the real head inspector and other experts guide us through the search for answers. The key is, they also share the recommendations that came as a result. Those changes “tell why this story matters,” Wolf says. “Each had an important impact on future [safety].”

Air Disasters, Season Premiere, Sunday, April 25, 8/7c, Smithsonian Channel