‘It was obviously really terrifying and scary’: Survivor recalls 1999 Little Rock airport crash

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – It has been 22 years since American Airlines Flight 1420 crashed in Little Rock.

The flight was landing during a severe thunderstorm and ran off the runway. Eleven people died, including the pilot and ten passengers.

Twenty-five of those on board Flight 1420 were the Ouachita Singers, a group from Ouachita Baptist University returning from a tour in Germany.

Jon Merryman, who was just 20 at the time, was one of those singers on the flight, and he still vividly remembers the moments after the plane crashed and being surrounded by fire.

“I thought I was going to have to jump through that fire,” Merryman recalled. “As I was about to jump, I felt someone grab my shirt and pull me onto the wing. Dr. Fuller stayed on that wing to make sure everyone got out ok. He actually pulled me through the window and pulled me off the plane.”

Merryman now works at Ouachita Baptist University and said the support he received from the group of survivors at the school helped him heal following the crash.

According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts were at 87 miles per hour shortly after the crash. This remains the highest wind gust on record at Little Rock.

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