One of the saddest moments in Breaking Bad happens when a passenger jet belonging to the Wayfarer plane company collides mid-air with a charter plane. Many residents, including Walt, witness the crash, with debris and damaged belongings falling all over Albuquerque. Several such items also fall in Walt’s pool.
Jane’s father Donald Margolis is revealed as the Air Traffic Controller who slept on the job. Walt is somehow tied to it too though no one ever finds out about that. While the chain of events leading to the crash is clear, some minor details might not be common knowledge among fans.
The Planes Involved
The planes involved in the crash are a charter plane named JM21 and a 737 commercial airliner named Wayfarer 515. The two planes collide mid-air as a result of Donald’s air traffic control error.
After Walt refuses to save an asphyxiated Jane, she dies, leading to her father Donald becoming grief-stricken. At the air traffic control center, he is unable to focus well so he fails to notice that the charter plane JM21 is on the path of the incoming passenger jet, the Wayfarer 515.
The JM21 Abbreviation
Interestingly, the charter plane’s initials JM21 are similar to those of Donald’s dead daughter and Jesse’s lover Jane Margolis. Donald is also reported to have worked as an air traffic controller for a little over 20 years, which might mean 21 years to be exact. Hence the reason for the writers going with JM21 as the plane’s name.
At the air traffic control center Donald Margolis accidentally reads out the words “Jane Mike 2 1” instead of “Juliet Mike 2 1” before realizing he has made a mistake. Jane and Mike are both characters on the show.
Another Bryan Cranston Character Caused A Plane Crash
One of Bryan Cranston’s other popular characters is that of Hal in the sitcom Malcolm In The Middle. Though in a comical manner, that character also causes a plane crash.
In the sitcom’s Season 6 episode titled “Hal Sleepwalks,” a sleepwalking Hal causes two sky-writing planes to collide. The moment is quickly brushed off as nothing more than a joke.
The Number Of Victims On Both Planes
In Season 2’s “ABQ,” it’s mentioned that the JM21 charter plane had 8 passenger seats. It’s also revealed that there are 167 victims across all planes in total.
By factoring in the two pilots in JM21, it means that the plane was carrying 10 people in total. And since such a small charter plane doesn’t have hostesses, it in turn means that the Wayfarer 515 passenger plane had 157 people on board. The presumption is also that both planes were full.
Walt has a goal when he makes the decision to start cooking meth in order to make enough money for his family before he dies of cancer. According to him, $737,000 will be enough to take his children through college.
Interestingly, 737 also happens to be the model of the passenger jet that crashes. It might be simply a coincidence or it might be the fact that the showrunner Vince Gilligan or the writing team really wanted it that way.
Connection To History
There is an interesting connection between Walter White, the crash, and actual historical events. In 1986, the Aeromexico Flight 498 (DC-9) plane ended up colliding with a Piper Archer aircraft in the Cerritos region of California.
Everyone on board was killed, as is the case with the Wayfarer crash. Interestingly, the name of the Air Traffic Controller that was tasked with handling both planes was also Walter White.
Walt Kept The Pink Teddy Bear’s Eye
One of the most symbolic objects in the series is the pink teddy bear. It falls out of one of the planes during the crash and lands in Walt’s pool. NTSB investigators later fish it out in an evidence bag.
The teddy bear is shown briefly in a couple of episodes to predict a disastrous event. Interesting Walt kept its eye after the NTSB investigators were done clearing the items. This is revealed to be the case when Skyler finds the eye while searching through Walt’s drawer in the Season 4 episode “Box Cutter.”
Ranking Among Worst Air Disasters
The revelation that 167 people were killed makes this the 5oth worst air disaster of all time. This is according to PlaneCrashInfo.com which has records of all air disasters in history.
Given Walt’s involvement in the crash, he definitely earns his place among the most evil TV antiheroes of all time. After the crash, he is hardly aware that it’s his actions that led to all this. However, some fans of the show have argued that it’s all Donald’s fault as he could have taken some time off work after Jane’s death.
The Damage To The Teddy Bear’s Face Is Similar To The Damage In Gus Fring’s Face
Gus Fring’s death is definitely the most memorable one in the show. Walt and Hector trick the drug lord into going into the Casa Tranquila only for Hector to blow himself up. For a moment, it seems like Gus might live when he walks out of the room. Another shot then shows half of his face badly damaged before he falls to the ground.
The teddy bear that fell out of one of the planes also has the same burn damage on the face that is seen on Gus. Given these circumstances, the teddy bear is a foreshadowing of things to come.
The interior of Jane’s house is only shown after everything happens. Before that, she spends most of her time in Jesse’s apartment next door, which appears to be quite organized.
Unlike Jesse’s apartment, Jane’s is tidy and well decorated. As an artist, she made sure to place a colorful mural right above her bed. The same pink teddy bear that fell out of the sky can also be seen on the mural. Since Jane put the painting up earlier, this is yet another moment of foreshadowing.