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The Nation

November 17, 1987

A hearing into the nation's second-worst airline disaster opened in Romulus, Mich., with contradictory testimony on whether Northwest Flight 255's wing flaps and slats were placed in the proper position before takeoff. John B. Drake, who headed the National Transportation Safety Board's inquiry into the crash, said investigators are certain the flaps and slats were improperly retracted when the MD-80 jetliner took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport Aug. 16. But Douglas Allington, a Northwest pilot who witnessed the takeoff from another plane awaiting permission to take off, testified that Flight 255's flaps and slats were in the correct, extended position. Seconds after takeoff, the jet hit a utility pole and crashed on a highway near the airport, killing 154 of 155 people aboard and two people on the ground.

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