Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 Crashes After Pilot is Shot
"There's gunfire on board . . . We're going down." The distress call came from Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 halfway on its run from Los Angeles to San Francisco, flying at 22,000 ft.
Two minutes later, the British Aerospace commuter jet shrieked toward earth in a nearly vertical dive and disintegrated as it slammed into a hill near Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. All 43 aboard were killed, including four executives of Chevron Corp. From that baffling beginning, other messages gradually unraveled the mystery of what had happened.
"Jackie, this is David. I'm on my way to San Francisco, Flight 1771. I love you. I really wish I could say more, but I do love you."
The message on the answering machine of USAir Ticket Agent Jacqueline Camacho in Los Angeles was from her estranged boyfriend.
December 7, 1987, was not a typical day for USAir employee David Burke. Two weeks prior, Burke had been placed on unpaid leave, awaiting the outcome of an investigation into whether he had stolen $68.00 from a drink fund set up by Flight Attendants. The date of Burke's appearance before the Board of Appeals at USAir was today.
In the hearing, Burke admitted to the act and pleaded for leniency, citing his family's well-being. Despite telling the members of the committee that he was “regrettably sorry,” and that his “children would have no one to support them,” Burke's pleas for his job went unheard, and he was summarily dismissed by his supervisor, Raymond Thompson. As Burke left his office after the hearing, Thompson's secretary wished him to “have a nice day.” Burke paused, turned around, and replied “I intend on having a very good day.”
David Burke then purchased a ticket on Pacific Southwest Airlines flight 1771, a daily non-stop along PSA's “Pacific Highway” between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This flight was also taken by Burke's supervisor, Raymond Thompson, every day on his commute home from the USAir Headquarters at LAX.
Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 was a commercial flight that crashed near Cayucos, California, United States, on December 7, 1987, after an incident of air piracy. All 43 people on board the aircraft died, including the man who caused the crash, an angry former employee of USAir, the parent company of PSA.