This Is Us is already one of television's most turbulent emotional rollercoasters. The main reason this show never leaves me dry-eyed? Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) is the best dad ever, and yet we already know he isn't long for this world. We know that Jack dies and that he does so way before his time. What we don't know is how, which is why fans are already speculating the many, many ways Jack could go. Now, a fan on Reddit thinks they've solved the puzzle.
According to Redditor knuckle_cracker, there was a real plane crash in 1994, around the time in which people speculate Jack may have perished. USAir Flight 427 was heading to Pittsburgh, where the Pearson family lives. Knuckle_cracker argues that it's possible Jack was on the plane, knowing it was going to crash, and was able to call Kate (Chrissy Metz) and speak to her before he died — hence her extremely emotional reaction to discussing her father's death.
The user writes, "While Jack and Miguel were talking during the most recent episode, Miguel asks Jack if he's seen Jurassic Park (which came out in '93). I took this as a clue for the rough time-frame of that period (which judging by the kid's ages, is also the time-frame in which Jack dies).
It seems like Kate is clearly the most traumatised by Jack's death, so I got thinking... what if Jack was on the flight (business? maybe to fly to Rebecca on tour? - could be any number of reasons) and before it crashed, he was somehow able to call the house? Maybe Kate was on the receiving end and she was the one that got to speak to her father, minutes, maybe seconds, before his death. This would explain the trauma and close connection that she has to Jack's death, and it would be one hell of a tear-jerker."
If this plane crash theory is legit, This Is Us has planted clues. Kevin (Justin Hartley) reveals that he destroyed all of the model airplanes he made with his dad after Jack's death. Both Kate and Kevin had bad experiences on airplanes. While not exactly the same, Kevin did mention the Challenger explosion being particularly hard for him in the pilot episode. Was Kevin musing that the Challenger somehow foreshadowed his father's death in a different kind of aerial accident?
Right now, these theories are pure speculation. One thing that's not? However Jack died, it's sure to make us all weep.