The plane crash was an event that occurred in December 1993 when a Russian airliner exploded and crashed down onto the village of Beckindale. All the 250 passengers in the plane were killed, and an additional nine characters on the ground were killed - including four main characters. The plane crash shook the village and resulted in the village's name change to Emmerdale in 1994.
On the night of 30th December 1993, the villagers were getting ready for New Years celebrations. There was also some tension running high as Frank Tate wanted to reconcile with Kim Tate, and Elizabeth Pollard was exposing her cheat of a husband Eric Pollard, who framed her son Michael Feldmann over a stolen Roman bracelet. Annie Kempinski and her new husband Leonard Kempinski were flying to Spain. Mark Hughes was asked by his stepfather Joe Sugden to return the vacuum cleaner to Lynn Whiteley. Kathy Tate wanted to leave Chris Tate for Josh Lewis. Archie Brooks was insulted by Seth Armstrong so stormed out of The Woolpack on a Dickensian evening. Elizabeth wanted to speak to Frank Tate about Eric's crimes.
At Kim's Stables, Home Farm, the Windsor family were helping Kim with the horses. Frank drove there with a Christmas present and waited. All of a sudden, as he was about to drive away, he noticed a huge fireball come down from the sky. The Windsor's and Kim ducked for cover as the fireball blasted into the stables. Nick was following Archie across the moors to calm him down over Seth's insults. Jet fuel fell from the sky, blinding Nick and then a fireball came down, incinerating Archie. On a country lane, Joe was driving his mum Annie and stepfather Leonard to the airport when Annie noticed a huge fireball glowing across the field. Joe swerved to avoid a wing piece of the plane but crashed into the ditch. At The Woolpack, a fireball hit the wine bar annexe, causing the customers to fall down onto the floor in the main bar. There was more fires and explosions, and damaged buildings, injured and dead animals, but more importantly injured and dead people. Kim's horses died in the fires at her stables. Vic Windsor tried to save them but to no avail. Flowers rained down from the sky. No one knew what it was. Bombs, a gas explosion was the suggestions. Skipdale Bridge was destroyed and the road was blocked off due to it. Frank and Jack Sugden filled in the gap with water pipes to let the emergency services through. At The Woolpack, some of the customers were injured but not seriously. Eric Pollard was wandering around asking for Elizabeth and a blinded Nick was calling out for Archie on the moors. Whiteley's Farm was destroyed but Lynn and 3 year old Peter were OK. However, no once noticed that Mark Hughes was laying under the rubble, clutching the vacuum cleaner.
Some dead bodies were seen, and Alan Turner picked up an airline ticket. They shone their torches and could see plane seats, and debris that looked like from a plane, and they now knew the cause of the destruction. A plane had come down on the village. Luke McAllister broke into the village shop to get medical supplies but left a note of stuff he took, and left a note to explain. The emergency services arrived and took over. Sampson the horse, who ran astray, noticed that something was wrong with the pile of rubble of the Woolpack wine bar. Josh Lewis could hear a voice under the rubble calling for help. It was Chris Tate, he was trapped under the rubble. Throughout the night, the emergency services tended to the disaster. The village hall was used as a temporary morgue for the plane victims as well as the villagers. The school was set up as an emergency shelter. Chris Tate was freed from the rubble with the hep of Sampson.
Early the next morning, Chris was taken to hospital, and Kathy decided not to leave him. Nick Bates was rescued on the moors, and Seth had spent the night with an old flame. Joe and Annie were rescued and taken to hospital, but Leonard died. Mark's body was found and identified by Jack. Archie was presumed to have been incinerated, thus explaining why his body was not found. Frank found a dead baby boy from the plane, in a tree, and wanted him laid to rest with dignity, not left dangling in the tree and used as evidence. Frank and Kim reconciled as a result of the crash. Elizabeth Pollard's body was found in a field. Vic had to chase off some looters and sightseers.
It took months for the debris from the plane to be cleared. Villagers coped with the loss of loved ones as well as seeing bodies from the plane itself. The damaged remainder of Demdyke Row was demolished. The wine bar was never rebuilt nor was Kim's stables. An inquest into the disaster concluded that the plane crashed due to structural weakness. Chris Tate was left paralysed from the waist down and had to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
The village's name was changed to Emmerdale in 1994, however the plane crash was still felt in the village. A memorial garden was opened in memory of the 259 plane crash victims in July 1994. For months, Eric had to put up with his vengeful stepson Michael Feldmann trying to prove that he killed his mum Elizabeth and used the plane crash to cover it up. In the end, Michael fled the country after a huge fight with Eric, so Eric moved on with his life, although rumours still spread. In 1995, Zak Dingle wanted to get a metal detector to scan the fields and woodland where the plane crashed, looking for possible relicts among the debris.
In November 2003, the village was bombarded by journalists eager to interview the residents of Emmerdale who lived in the village during the plane crash, ten years on from the accident.
- Archie Brooks - Archie was walking across the field, storming off following a row in The Woolpack with Seth Armstrong. Archie and his friend Nick Bates (who was chasing after Archie) were blinded by fuel by the jet before Archie was incinerated by a fireball.
- Leonard Kempinski - Leonard and his wife Annie Sugden were being driven to the airport to catch their flight for Spain. Driver Joe Sugden was distracted by an explosion in the distance, and narrowly avoided a collision with a plane wing that had fallen onto the road. Joe swerved to avoid the plane wing and ended up colliding with a tree. Leonard sustained fatal head injuries in the accident.
- Mark Hughes - Nagged by step-father Joe Sugden, Mark went to return Lynn Whiteley's vacuum cleaner when he was crushed by a falling wall in the plane crash. Mark's body was not found until January 1994, and he was identified by his watch.
- Elizabeth Pollard - Elizabeth had discovered her husband Eric Pollard framed her son Michael Feldmann for fraud and went to tell the police to get Michael off the hook. Eric went after her, however Elizabeth ended up being struck by falling debris and died of her injuries. The villagers initially believed Eric had killed Elizabeth and Eric admitted to then-wife Val Pollard years later in 2011 that if the plane crash hadn't happened then he probably would have killed her.
- With rates falling and ITV threatening to cancel, executive producer Keith Richardson was successful in his attempts to get Brookside creator Phil Redmond to help Emmerdale regain viewers. With a budget of £1m, Phil decided to bring a plane on the village, and with the help of producer Nicholas Prosser, the show gained it's record amount of viewers - around 18 million.