There were 96 passengers and 11 crew on Japan Air Lines Flight 2, flying from Tokyo to San Francisco on November 22, 1968. The flight was going very smoothly, until it wasn’t.
As the DC-8 plane, named “Shiga” by the airline, finished its descent into the foggy bay, pilot Kohei Asoh realized his plane had dropped way too far, way too soon.
“We came alongside the mountains and went into thick fog,” passenger Walter Dunbar recalled. “I was sitting in the aft part of the plane. The next thing I knew, we were about one foot off the water. She hit, skipped twice, then nose up.”
“I realized two or three minutes ahead of time we were going in,” said Karen Fishburne of Sacramento, who was travelling with her daughter. “There was a great shock as the plane stopped and hand baggage, cameras and coats came flying off the racks above the seats. The railing along the racks came flying off and gave one little child a bloody nose. A piece of railing hit me on the head, but it didn’t hurt.”
And just like that, the plane stopped in the shallow water. Like Sully Sullenberger on the Hudson 41 years later, Captain Asoh somehow managed to guide the plane onto the water and into the mud below without a single injury to the 100 adults and seven children on board, beyond a bloody nose.