AA1420 left DFW at 22:40 for Little Rock. N215AA has been operating for American Airlines since August 1983.
Due to severe weather and a 14-hour crew working restriction, American towed a fresh MD-82 to the stand to enable the present crew to take off before 23:16.
ATC warned AA1420's crew of heavy thunderstorms near Little Rock Airport at 23:04, but they elected to speed up their approach rather than divert or return to DFW.
By 23:39, ATC said runway 22L was encountering wind shear and shifting wind direction, therefore Captain Richard Buschmann switched to 04R 11 minutes before landing.
This change in runway caused ATC to redirect the MD-82 away from the airport during approach, leading the onboard weather radars to miss the impending thunderstorms.
As the aircraft was drawing up, the First Officer reported that storm clouds had obscured the airfield.