Benzon believes that some lasting good came out of the investigation. In response, American Airlines revised its training manuals to show that manipulating the rudder system at any speed can do damage to the plane. The Airbus A300 -- no longer used by American Airlines -- had a "sensitive rudder system," and after the crash, the design was changed on those planes. But safety training for airline pilots remains a significant issue in a period when increased technology in the cockpit has put an even greater onus on safety. That consideration, says former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall, has been brushed aside a bit since the accident.
"I think it had a short-term effect in regard to the training of pilots, particularly with the use of the rudder because that was the primary issue," Hall says. "That accident was overshadowed by 9/11, and the significance and lessons learned from the Flight 587 crash really didn't get the attention I feel like they deserved."
On Saturday, there will be a 10th anniversary gathering at the Flight 587 Memorial established in Belle Harbor. During a recent nighttime visit, the waves were crashing against the beach, the salt air was crisp, and the boardwalk was vacant; a lone man in a sweatsuit was jogging in the dark. The center of the memorial, which lists the names of all 265 victims, reads, "Despues No Quiero Mas Que Paz," or "Afterwards I Only Want Peace," a nod to the fact that 90 percent of the victims were Dominican. A plane flew overhead, veering off in the direction of the water, providing an eerie reminder of what happened that Monday morning.
Seventeen blocks away, there's a gray stone dedicated to the crash with a lone tree planted next to it. Aside from the five new homes that were built after those properties took the brunt of the crash, the stone and tree are the only signs that anything ever happened on this sleepy street.
For 20-year-old Bradley States, the son of Flight 587 pilot Edward States, this anniversary is a chance to remember his father not just as a pilot but as a family man, a New York Giants fan, and a hands-on teacher who loved telling his young sons and their friends how a plane flies. After Sunday, Bradley will have spent as many years living without his father as he did living with him.
He realizes that this anniversary may be less meaningful to the general public than it is to him. But that doesn't bother him. "I can't control what people pay attention to and what people don't," says States, a math and education major at Elmira College in Elmira, New York. "My family and I, we all pay respect to him in the way we go about our lives. Every day we go out and try to make him proud."
Algarroba, meanwhile, is serving underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic through a foundation he calls HHS after three generations of his family (his father, himself, and his own son, Steven). The days after the crash were a dark time for him, a period in which he left his home only to talk to the medical examiner. His parents, whose deaths were confirmed a month after the crash, were among the last passengers to be identified. He's tried to move on from that day, but he still holds a service in Bani every November 12 for the victims.
"It's a day when I remember what got me here, what gave me the upbringing to be a respectful, law-abiding citizen, the ability to pass that on to others, to value humanity, and to always give back even if you don't have much to give back," he says. "But it's not much different for me than other days. I live it every day."