Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac (1984)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  1 April 1984 (USA)
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Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac is a true story based on the crash of Air Florida flight 90 on January 13, 1982 in Washington D.C. This movie follows the main players throughout the day,... See full summary »


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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Patricia 'Nikki' Felch
Burt Hamilton
Joe Stiley
Roger Olian
Arland Williams
Marilyn Nichols
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dishevelled Man
Richard Backus ...
Larry Nichols
Richard Beauchamp ...
Jose Tirado
Senior First Officer
Tamar Cooper ...
Head Nurse
Brenda Currin ...
Ticket Agent
Lenny Skutnik


Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac is a true story based on the crash of Air Florida flight 90 on January 13, 1982 in Washington D.C. This movie follows the main players throughout the day, with a lot of care taken to re-create what actually went wrong, who died, and who survived. There is a lot of actual footage from the day, as well as accurate representations of aircraft type and airline. Written by Trent Nickson <callisto@zip.com.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE TRUE STORY. [Video] See more »




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Release Date:

1 April 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flight No. 90  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Incorporated original television footage of the survivors as they clung to wreckage and chunks of ice in the freezing water of the Potomac. See more »


When flight 90 is being deiced, the tail of a 727 is shown, which has a T type tail. The 737 has a conventional tail. See more »


[referring to Nikki's blue swimsuit]
David Frank: The rising executive's all-purpose wardrobe. Ideal for staff meetings, impressing the clients...
See more »


Edited from Lost Flight (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

Well-Made Docudrama
26 April 2004 | by (Morristown, NJ) – See all my reviews

This TV-movie about the January 13, 1982 crash of Air Florida Flight #90 into the Potomac river is for the most part a well-made docudrama surrounding many of the people involved in the story. Legal hurdles prevented some stories from being depicted, in particular that of Lenny Skutnik who dove into the river to rescue Priscilla Tirado from drowning. Skutnik felt that any movie about the event was exploitative and thus refused to let his story be dramatized. His scene is confined to a look-alike actor (billed only as "Man On Shore" in the original credits) jumping in at the appropriate moment. However, compensation is offered by focusing on the more neglected story of mental hospital worker Roger Olian (Richard Masur) who first swam out to give the trapped passengers enocouragement before the helicopters arrived. His story is as remarkable as Skutnik's ultimately and the TV movie allowed those of us who weren't familiar with his efforts to see how there was more than one hero that day who jumped into the Potomac to provide help.

The docudrama approach with no special effects of the plane crash managed to work well because there is a desire to keep things as authentic as possible, which includes a large use of actual news footage of the rescue operations, which is blended in seamlessly with the scenes of actors in the tank. Gil Melle's score is a bit awkward and the most dated aspect of the production, but still has some hauntingly beautiful sections when he gets away from the synths.

A few postscripts to the story of the survivors. Nikki Felch's marriage to David Frank did not last and she sadly died of pancreatic cancer in 2002, just two weeks after Burt Hamilton also passed away. Joe Stiley was forced into early retirement by his injuries and lives in Washington state. Priscilla Tirado has not granted an interview in more than ten years and remains traumatized by the events that saw her lose her husband and baby. By far, the happiest story has been that of Flight Attendant Kelly Duncan (who is given the least attention of any of the survivors in the movie, with greater focus coming on the other two flight attendants who were killed) who today teaches at a Christian pre-school and has three children.

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Why was it not released on DVD? filmsfan38
well made movie for its time skitzoette

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