Bird Strike

The Crash of the Boston Electra

Michael N. Kalafatas

On a warm and golden afternoon, October 4, 1960, a Lockheed Electra jet turboprop carrying 72 souls took off from Logan Airport. Seconds later, the plane slammed into a flock of 10,000 starlings, and abruptly plummeted into Winthrop Harbor. The collision took 62 lives and gave rise to the largest rescue mobilization in Boston’s history, which included civilians in addition to police, firefighters, skindivers, and Navy and Coast Guard air-sea rescue teams. Largely because of the quick action and good seamanship of Winthrop citizens, many of them boys in small boats, ten passengers survived what the Civil Aeronautics Board termed “a non-survivable crash.” Using firsthand interviews with survivors of the crash, rescuers, divers, aeronautics experts, and ornithologists, as well as a wide range of primary source material, Kalafatas foregrounds the story of the crash and its aftermath to anchor a broader inquiry into developments in the aeronautics industry, the increase in the number of big birds in the skies of North America, and the increasing danger of “bird strikes.” Along the way he looks into interesting historical sidelights such as the creation of Logan Airport, the transformation of Boston’s industrial base to new technologies, and the nature of journalistic investigations in the early 1960s. The book is a rare instance when an author can simultaneously write about a fascinating historical event and a clear and present danger today. Kalafatas calls for and itemizes solutions that protect both birds and the traveling public.

E-book: $19.95
ISBN-13: 9781611688153
Pages: 200 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: September 14, 2010

“A call to action.”

Boston Globe


  • A call to action.

    Boston Globe
  • With the publication of Bird Strike, Kalafatas' name deserves to be added to that list of authentic American heroes.

    Lively Arts
  • Kalafatas presents an extraordinary look at flight and its conflict with the environment--a conflict that is not always won by human or machine and an environment that was innocent of the threat of aircraft-bird collisions a mere century ago. Kalafatas intertwines the human drama of passengers, families, witnesses, and rescuers with the intricacies of machine and the simplicity of nature. A must read for anyone who enjoys human drama and the complexities of flight.

  • A riveting, well-written story. Bird Strike weaves the dedication and enthusiasm of two individuals, John Goglia and Roxie Laybourne, into the history of the bird strike ‘business.’ Unfortunately, the parallels of the investigations of the Boston Electra Crash and the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ reveal that despite fifty years of catastrophic history, bird strikes remain an under-studied concern to civil aviation.

    Carla J. Dove, Smithsonian Institution
  • A timely and relevant analysis of the continuing hazard to aircraft posed by bird strikes. The dramatic landing of a US Airways A-320 Airbus in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were destroyed by a flock of birds can be traced directly to the failure to learn the lessons of the 1960 crash of the Eastern Airlines Lockheed Electra off Logan International Airport.

    John Goglia

About the Author

Michael N. Kalafatas

Michael N. Kalafatas is author of The Bellstone: The Greek Sponge Divers of the Aegean, and for more than twenty years served as director of admissions at Brandeis University.

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