I have a book called The Black Box, which has all the transcripts from the black box of some famous doomed flights, in the moments before the plane crashed---conversations among the crew, contacts with the tower, etc....
It does not make for reassuring reading
The high incidence of distraction on the part of the pilots is worrying (two pilots chatting about Watergate and criticising Nixon for his irresponsibility--oh the irony-while an alarm buzzer can clearly be heard in the cockpit , but not apparently by the two chattering pilots)
The doomed flight which crashed into the Potomac in a blizzard, was queuing in freezing temperatures for takeoff while ground crews kept trying to de-ice the wings with tiny useless hand-held aerosol de-icers....they kept freezing up again
The pilot, in a weird foreshadowing, watching a Russian jet waiting for takeoff in the snow in the queue in front of him, remarks "Jesus, I'm glad I don't have to take off in this weather in that piece of sh1t" (meaning the Russian plane) Alas, his own plane plunged into the river a few minutes after takeoff ,because of ice build-up on the wings
In other recordings, pilots seem more concerned with appearing macho and understating the problem, rather than asking for help and declaring an emergency while there was still time...
Anyway, great book...especially for nervous fliers like me!
One of those discovery docs told the story of how on one plane all 3 pilots got fixated on a landing gear light and never noticed that the Auto pilot had accidentally been turned off by a slight movement on the captains joystick.
This resulted in the plane starting a subtle downward decline and eventually crashing into the everglades in Florida.
The landing gear light did not come on when they lowered the gear coming into to land , so they flew around and were not sure if it was the landing gear or the just the bulb on the landing gear light which was not uncommon back then , the three of them got fixated in trying to take the bulb out to check it , one of them trying to jiggle it out of its holder and the other two giving him advise on how to do it when he was not successful in getting it out. All three of them missed the fact that the Auto pilot had been accidentally switched off and no one was flying the plane.
There are reports of two men in separate locations, one a fisherman, having seen a large jet plane flying very low over the sea. Both lost sight of it, although the report headlines with two witnesses see plane flying into sea. Was it hijacked and flying under radar?
That was an amazing case alright , if you saw it in a movie you would say it was too far fetched with the captain hanging out of the window and the steward grabbing on to his legs so as he would not fly away, and astonishingly they got the plane down safely and the captain made a full recovery afterwards.
Understandable but costly mistake by the maintenance chap to pick the screws by eye rather than go through the procedures and look them up on the system , but I am sure what he was doing but probably very common at the time.
It took 5 days to locate Air France flight 447 in 2009 over the Atlantic
But debris was sighted within 24 hours of the flight going missing. It took several days to get rescue and recovery ships into position and nearly two years to recover the black box, but the fate of the plane was known within hours and the location of the crash site was known almost immediately, when Brazilian Military aircraft located debris clearly identified as part of an aircraft.
A theory gaining possible traction has the Malaysian airline crash landing in the water, possibly reasonably intact, in a partially controlled crash landing, but then sinking as it filled with water. If that is the case the plane could have slipped below the water and left only an oil slick behind.
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