The Crash of Delta Flight 723

The Worst Air Disaster in New England History


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About the Book

At the height of the Watergate scandal, Delta Flight 723 crashed into a fog-shrouded seawall at the end of Runway 4R at Logan Airport in Boston. While this incident and Watergate seemed unrelated at first, President Richard Nixon and his subordinates’ actions during Watergate interfered with the ability of the National Transportation Safety Board to properly investigate the crash. It wasn’t until three court cases, a federal investigation, congressional hearings, as well as a state investigation, when the true cause of the accident was exposed ten years later.

This is also the story of Air Force Sergeant Leopold Chouinard and his incredible fight for survival. Chouinard survived the initial impact of the crash, only to suffer third and fourth degree burns on the majority of his body. Doctors fought against incredible odds to try and save Chouinard’s life. For 134 days, Leo Chouinard defied all expectations as his doctors and nurses applied the latest advancements in burn treatments to save him from a non-survivable accident. They nearly succeeded. Through interviews with Chouinard’s family, his physicians, and the NTSB’s investigation, comes a story of corruption, determination, and vindication as well as the answer to what really caused that crash at Logan airport.

About the Author(s)

Paul D. Houle is a former traffic accident investigator with the United States Army. His work in the field of transportation has spanned a couple of decades. He lives in Chesnee, South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Paul D. Houle

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 273
Bibliographic Info: 8 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8642-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4435-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 5
Abbreviations 7
1. Fog Warning 9
2. Passengers and Crew 15
3. Merger 24
4. “Let Me Get Off the Plane” 33
5. “Partial Obscuration” 40
6. “He Didn’t Say to Go On Down” 48
7. “I Don’t Trust That Thing” 53
8. “A Large, Long Flame” 61
9. “Aircraft Down on 4R” 69
10. “My Name Is Leo Chouinard” 78
11. The NTSB 87
12. “Avoid Public Criticism of the FAA” 95
13. “We Are Going to Do Everything We Can to Save You” 104
14. “Thousands and Thousands of Pieces of the Plane All Over” 114
15. “Criminally Negligent” 123
16. “You Want to Get Warned About Hitting the Ground” 130
17. “Trying to Use This Accident in a Cheap Political Way” 136
18. “We’re Dealing with a Burn That Is Normally a Fatal Burn” 141
19. “The Administration Has Made Repeated Attempts to Both Harass and Intimidate the Board” 149
20. “There Is a Record of Malfunctions” 159
21. “If He Was Going to Die, We Did Not Want Him Dying on Our Watch” 167
22. “Leo, You’re an Uncle” 174
23. “The Result of Nonstandard Air Traffic Control Services” 180
24. “An Unusually Foggy Day” 189
25. “Mr. Taylor Simply Forgot About Delta 723” 204
26. “The Interrelationship Existing Between Pilot and Ground Personnel Can Best Be Characterized as One Requiring Extensive Cooperation” 212
27. “Short Circuits Caused by Particles Produced Mechanical Misalignment” 220
28. “You Are Not Going to Get Rid of Me, Mike” 227
Chapter Notes 235
Bibliography 253
Index 261

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The depth of available data, detailed and appropriately dramatic narrative technique, and mastery of a genuine investigative tone allow the author to craft an excellent work….Houle describes the people, mechanical and weather situations, and many other perspectives involved in very readable and interesting terms, reflecting both the complexity of the crash events and comprehensiveness of the author’s research. Any student or professional with a focus on air safety or accident investigation will surely gain insights from this book. Houle has done an exceptional job of elevating a devastating horror story into a meaningful recollection of an accident that had a limited effect on people not directly involved… The human suffering directly resulting from the crash and indirectly touching everyone from first responders to aviation officials and family or colleagues is vividly portrayed and humanely conveyed….recommended”—Choice