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Missing Airmen Cases

At some point during my research of the DB Cooper case, I came across a list of missing planes and airmen. I have since lost the link, so I hesitate to publish this. However, there’s value in realizing that a lot of airmen have gone missing in the United States and have not been found. It’s still perfectly plausible that Cooper died in the jump and disappeared into the landscape. So, here are the missing airmen cases for Washington and Oregon from an unknown source (If you recognize where I got this, please leave a comment):

– 26 November 1945 USAAF C-46A Unknown 12 PAX Sedalia AAF, MO to McChord Field, WA

The transport was on a cross country flight after a refueling stop at Oakland, CA when it ran into a winter storm in southern Oregon. High winds, fog and poor visibility forced the aircraft off course and over the southwestern Oregon coastline where is ran out of fuel. The pilot ordered all passengers to bail out, which took place about 30 northeast of Coos Bay. The pilot and co-pilot rode the plane down and were killed in the crash.

The 10 passengers who jumped became the subject of an intensive air-ground search conducted by over 60 personnel from the ARS at McChord Field, the US Coast Guard, Douglas County Sheriff’s posse and local loggers and woodsmen familiar with the search area. Nine of the passengers and crew were rescued to include a glider pilot who was rescued by loggers after spending over 36 hours hanging in his parachute from a tall pine tree. After five days, nine of the jumpers were rescued alive. However, one of the passengers, SGT Robert T. W. Neal, was never found.

On 18 December 1959, two lumberjacks working for the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. felled a 200 foot fir tree in the Lake Creek area in Douglas County 45 east of Coos Bay and discovered a parachute and harness snagged in the tree. Two Air Force officers sent to investigate confirmed that the parachute was packed at Sedalia Field in 1945. They stated that all but one buckle on the harness were found still buckled and made it appear that whoever was in it never got out alive.

In April, 1960 the US Air Force sent a 10 man team from Portland Air Force Base to conduct an extensive search around the Lake Creek area. Airmen using rakes, metal detectors and other tools searched around the base of the tree and the general area, but found nothing. The Air Force announced at that time that there would be no more organized searches for SGT Neal.

– 29 November 1945 USN PV-1 BuNo 49459 5 PAX Whidbey NAS to Miramar NAS, CA

The same winter storm that downed the USAAF C46A also downed this aircraft in the Mount Saint Helens area of southern Washington State. Flying into icing conditions about 10 miles east of Cougar, the pilot ordered the two passengers to bail out. One of the passengers, Army 1LT Warren Lawson, successfully bailed out and walked into Cougar on 2 December. However, he could not say for sure what happened to the other four. The other passenger, a young sailor, was found by loggers dead from exposure on 3 January 1946, still hanging in his parachute from a tall fir tree. That same day another parachute was found less than a mile away but no sign was found of the occupant. An intensive ground search was conducted for over a month in deep winter cold but no further trace of the other three crewmen was found.

In August, 1962 a Forest Service ranger found a crude snow shoe made from a military style survival life raft about 10 miles east of Cougar near Swift Reservoir. A search of the area found no other evidence or human remains. This was reported to the State CAB and the US Navy. However, no further investigation was conducted. On 5 August 1963, a Forest Ranger found the crash site of the PV-1. It was located about 10 miles east of Cougar, 8 miles north of Swift Reservoir and approximately 1.5 miles from a logging road.

On 8 August, a team of 8 US Navy personnel from NAS Whidbey Island accompanied by the county sheriff’s and a representative from the State CAB investigated the crash site. What appeared to be a camp site was found on a hill about 100 feet east of the crash site. It appeared that two or more of the survivors may have found their way to the crash site and salvaged what they could in an attempt to survive the winter cold. Remnants of the survival life raft, paddles, a flashlight, torn cloth and clothing, a camera and an empty wallet was found. Two parachutes were found in the wreckage. However, no human remains were ever found. Investigators theorized that it is possible that two of the crew may have rode the plane down and survived the crash. After several days waiting for rescue, they may have attempted to walk out and perished in the forest.

– 10 Nov 1962 USAF F102A 56-1387 1 PAX Paine AFB, WA to Local

The F102A left on a training flight over the Olympics when it vanished. Radar tracked the aircraft to a point NW of Shelton in Grays County. There was no indication of any problems during communications with the pilot, CPT Robert Lucas, 34, with 11 years service in the USAF. A three week search centered on an area 25 miles north of Shelton was conducted by Air Force helicopters, US Navy and Coast Guard aircraft and 20 fixed wing aircraft of the Civil Air Patrol. Rain, snow and high winds curtailed the search on some days. The ground search included over 100 soldiers from the US Army’s 12th Infantry at Fort Lewis, 40 members of the Tacoma, Seattle and Olympia Search and Rescue Councils, 50 Explorer Scouts and 20 airmen from Paine AFB. The only clues found during the search was a faint beeper that was heard in the Mount Tebo area during the first three days of the search, but the source could not be pinpointed. Hunters claim to have heard a crash in the vicinity of Church Creek 3 miles south of Mount Tebo. The search failed to find any other trace of the missing jet.

On 14 May 1965, loggers found a parachute and harness in a tall pine tree in the Camp Gobey area 12 miles west of Hoodsport on the Hood Canal. This was the center of the search area. It appeared that whoever was in the harness cut himself free and lowered himself to the ground. A search of the area revealed aircraft parts and wreckage that were identified as being manufactured by North American Corporation. However, it could not be proven that the harness or the wreckage belonged to the missing pilot. On 4 November 1968, the Civil Air Patrol reported finding wreckage of an unknown F-102A further north in the Olympic Mountains and submitted photos and wreckage for evaluation. Examination of the wreckage revealed an old SAR data plate placed at discovered crash sites by the State that verified the wreckage was of another F-102A that had been previously recovered.

Recently, the family and relatives of the missing pilot announced they are continuing to search for the wreckage of this jet. The area where the jet was presumed to have crashed has long since been logged out and populated. Other than the parachute harness, no trace of the jet was found in that area. The current theory now is that the jet crashed somewhere deep in the southern Olympic Mountains. Other than family members, there is no “official” active search going for this missing jet.

– 28 August 1963 USAF F106A Unknown 1 PAX McChord AFB, WA to Local

The jet intercepter, accompanied by a wingman, flew an afternoon interception mission against a USAF RB-57 out of Hill AFB, Utah. The pilot, 1LT Roger Auxland, 27, from the 489th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, attempted to close on the “target” about 5 miles over the ocean off the mouth of the Queets River on the Olympic Peninsula. The F-106A collided with the RB-57 and exploded in a ball of flames and plunged into the ocean. The damaged RB-57 managed to return to McChord AFB. The wingman thought he saw a distinct “explosion” that looked like the pilot ejecting from his stricken aircraft. This prompted an air-ground search for the missing pilot.

Several leads were developed that led searchers to believe that the pilot may have landed on the rugged coastline. A fisherman who saw the collision also saw a parachute drifting down toward land. Later that same evening a camper heard three gunshots in the vicinity of the beach in the search area. The USAF later estimated that wind and ocean currents could have pushed the parachute within a mile of the shore.

The week long search was conducted by USAF helicopters from McChord AFB, and Coast Guard helicopters from Port Angeles Coast Guard Station as well as fixed wing aircraft from the Coast Guard auxiliary. They were joined that weekend by fixed wing aircraft and ground teams from the Civil Air Patrol. Over 30 members of the Search and Rescue Council from various cities conducted an extensive ground search of the shoreline and a half mile inland. Rescue boats from La Push Lifeboat Station searched off shore.

No trace of the pilot was ever found and he was declared dead by the US Air Force on 4 September 1963.


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Asiana Flight 214: A Pilot’s Perspective II

More from Capt. Bogs:

Latest thoughts in the media on Asiana Flight 214 seems to be all about pilot error. Probably right. My feeling is that is supervisory error, in that the instructor pilot failed to supervise his student properly. That is what an Air Force accident board would say.

I’m not trying to excuse the pilots, but why were the autothrottles off while they were concentrating on an admittedly difficult (but routine) approach? I never flew the 777, but on the Airbus, the throttles would not have disengaged on the descent and approach. I would think that the 777 is the same; operated normally the auto throttles would stay on through the descent and approach and on to landing. If the student pilot was used to flying the older technology 747, he may have disengaged the autothrottles at the start of the descent just like on the 747, and just left them off, contrary to normal procedures on the 777. His training would assume the autothrottles were on during the approach, as would his instructor on the jet in the actual fact. That still does not excuse the instructor from failing to see the problem, especially at the stabilized approach point on final. That check is: on glide slope, on centerline, on airspeed, with the engines spooled up. (Jet engines take a little while to develop power when they are in idle and more thrust is needed, which is why we need them out of idle on final.)

Another question is, why didn’t the pilots have glide slope guidance while on final? San Francisco International has 2 parallel runways in very close proximity to each other. 28 L(left) is normally used for takeoffs, while 29 R(right) is used for landings. A commuted turboprop preceded Asiana 214 on the runway complex, landing on 28R just before 214 landed on 28L. Did the tower reclear the flight to the parallel runway, forcing the pilots on 214 change their landing runway on their instruments while in the approach phase? Not an unusual occurrence . This would erase the glide slope guidance on their panels when they needed it the most. Turboprops are very slow compared to these big jets. If the tower asked the jet to slow before changing his runway, this may have been why they disengaged the autothrottles.

Whatever, autothrottles or not, glide slope guidance or not, runway change or not, you still have to fly the damn jet all the way to the runway. And the instructor’s only job is to make sure his student does it safely. That’s where the buck stops.

Today, there is another fire on a parked Boeing 787, this time an Ethiopia airlines jet at Heathrow Airport in London. I’ll tell you, lithium scares the heck out of me. There was a rash of lithium battery fires on laptops in the last few years before I retired. Very hot fires, very difficult to extinguish. This fire occurred after the jet had been parked for 2 hours. If it is another battery fire, this is very bad news for Boeing. Ethiopia airlines was the first airline to put the 787’s back into service after the FAA couldn’t find a cause to the fires. Thermal run aways is the usual excuse for a lithium battery fire, which is actually good news for people in the air on these jets. It is very cold up there (-56C at 36,000 feet, plus or minus 2 degrees C per thousand feet), so there are not too many therms trying to run away while in cruise. Put the plane on the ground, charge the battery with external power (in other words, add energy to the battery) in an unventilated compartment, and let it sit out there in the sun. Hummm. Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

There are a lot of smarter people than me trying to fix this problem. I’d disconnect the battery on the ground unless it needed charging, and I’d charge it only after I took it physically out of the jet. At least then the jet wouldn’t catch fire. Just a thought.

Asiana Flight 214: A Pilot’s Perspective

 From Capt Bogs:

Watching the coverage about Asiana Flight 214 on Fox news last night was painful. So much so that I feel compelled to hit the internet with my take.

Since it has been a long time, I will first bore you with my Bona Fides. I am a retired pilot with over 20000 hours of flight time. I flew the C-130 for the Air Force for about 20 years, then retired. Then flew for a regional carrier until United Air Lines hired me. I was an engineer and later a flight instructor on the DC-8 and DC-10. Then I flew the Boeing 747 as a copilot, upgrading to Captain on the 727. Went on to fly the Airbus A-320, and moved to the 767/757 fleet, returning to the Airbus after 9-11 forced the airline to reduce their active fleet, all as a Captain.

Enough history. Now to yesterday’s accident.

The normal way a flight from the Far East is vectored to SFO is over the City itself at or above 10000 ft, then flying out over the bay, descending as the plane passes the airport. At this time the copilot has by far the best view of the situation as he can see the airport and judge the descent, the lateral displacement from the runways, and the distance from the end of the runway. With the flight instrumentation on the 777, when the runway is selected on the automatic flight instrumentation, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) will give the flying pilot a visual indication of the glide slope he will want to follow. After the plane goes underneath the glide slope, or when it looks like they will transition below the glide slope as they turn toward the airport, the flying pilot will bring the plane to the right to set them up to intercept the extended center line of the runway. The plane should intercept the runway centerline below the glide slope. They will then fly up the centerline until they descend toward the runway on the glide slope, configured with landing flaps and landing gear, engines spooled up producing power, ready to go around, fully in control of their fate. Their descent angle will be 3%, losing 300 feet every nautical mile. This is called a stable approach; required by the FAA as well as all certificated airlines, the safest way to approach a landing runway.

The following is my reconstruction of the accident aircraft’s flight path, with no hard facts but the experience of having been based in San Francisco flying to the Far East for years.

The flight path for Asiana 214 probably started the same way. High over the city, out over the bay, descending. The captain is probably flying the jet, at this point hand-flying but maybe on the auopilot. The captain is at a disadvantage, because the runways are hard to see cross-cockpit, and Korean way does not lend itself to ask for help if you are in command. There are a lot of things going on: Air Traffic Control (ATC) may be asking him to shorten the approach, (This is the time of day when there are jets arriving from airports all over the far east.) he is perhaps too high and too fast, he needs to get his craft slowed down so he can configure for landing (get the flaps and gear extended, there are speed limits for each extension) and worst of all he has no electronic clues as to his position from the runway. It is now that he has bad luck from the weather; if the weather was bad he would have had to have had electronic help but the good weather has given the airport the opportunity to do some maintenance on the ILS system, taking it off the air.

As the captain turns onto base leg, which is 90 degrees from the heading of the runway, he sees that he is in a little too close to the runways and he is not fully configured. He pulls the power off and raises the nose, bleeding off airspeed quickly. He drops the flaps as the jet slows and turns onto the centerline of the runway, releasing the nose down and allowing the airspeed to build. There are lights on the side of the runway, defining the glide path, and he sees that he is still above it. He now undergoes one of the problems of SFO. San Francisco is a special qualification airport due to the mountainous terrain in the area, but it is also one of those tricky airports. You approach the runways normally used by heavy jets from over the water; there are no visual cues to help with depth perception. As a result the spy-data-gathering instruments on the jets show that this airport has more unstabilized approaches than almost any other airport in America. Relying on what you see out the window is just not reliable. The captain looks outside, thinks he is high, pulls the power back to get to what he thinks is the right height but is in fact too low.

Approach lights slide below the jet, close enough to touch. With the power off, airspeed bleeding down, and no altitude to spare, the captain jams the power levers forward and pulls the nose up, trying to stretch his glide to the runway. Instead, he enters into the beginning of a stall, the wings waggling, the nose up and the tail of the jet settling into the sea wall. Asiana flight 214 is below the glide slope, engines not spooled up, configured correctly but not flying. Their fate is in the hands of gravity and drag.

With the plane hitting the seawall short of runway 28L, we are no longer into speculation. We can see the debris. The jet tracks onto the runway, shedding parts in a straight line. The empennage sheds off; the vertical stabilizer going one way and both horizontal stabilizers falling off the other. As the jet settles down onto the part of the runway short of the displaced threshold,the ground grinds off the rest of the tail all the way to the rear pressure bulkhead,popping it off and and pulling a couple of young women out of the plane and onto the ground, killing them. The jet slams down, shearing off the nose gear, and then bounces back into the air. One of the impacts breaks the main gears off. This smashes the jet engines off, one of them spinning off to the side and the other nestling into the right side of the fuselage. The jet slides off the runway,the nose tracking to the right even as the plane skids to the left of the runway.

As the jet comes to rest, the flight attendants spring into action. Screaming at the passengers to release their seat belts and get out, the flight attendants see the fire on the right side of the plane. They direct the passengers to use the exits on the left side. A completely successful evacuation ensues with the jet emptied within a couple of minutes despite the fact that the emergency was completely unexpected and unbriefed. The cabin crew, unlike the cockpit crew, reacted professionally even after an all night, energy draining flight. Well done.

Not so well done for Fox news. They have a light plane pilot who anchors their weekday AM programing who was completely out of his depth on this incident. After a wandering, unfocused commentary he got stuck on “air pockets” (no such thing) and “microbursts” (a severe and dangerous weather condition associated with convective weather.) Hint: When there are no thunderstorms there are no microbursts. The mountains west of the field may produce some turbulence, but the weather had already been reported as clear with light winds. He really had no worthwhile inputs relative to a huge high performance jet going into a difficult airport.

The first guest with any good inputs was a retired NTSB investigator. They gave him about 45 seconds and went into commercial. He eventually got back on for most of a segment that was very informative. Finally someone who knew what he was talking about.

For some reason all the networks seem to think that people who have no flying background are able to describe accurately things an airplane does. Last night the best things the bystanders had to say was that the jet was coming in very nose-high. They did not know how to describe this, but we got the picture. Unfortunately, along with this nugget, we also got the “airplane cartwheeled” and slid down the runway upside down. No, no, no! Clearly, there were two wings still attached to the body as the jet sat there burning on the side of the runway. No way it tumbled. We were then subjected to this “slid upside down” comment for half the evening. A guest finally said that there was no way that this had happened, and after a couple of more upside downs in the summaries it finally went away.

A passenger said her plane hit some turbulence on short final as it landed on 28R. She had some useful pictures. But, turbulence that her pilot did not comment on to his passengers in a fairly light turboprop will not usually even be felt in a 700,000 pound jet. This may have been what Mr. Scott glommed onto when he brought up his microbursts.

They also had a “former Naval Aviator” making comments. At first I thought he was just a a shill for Boeing, as most of his comments were about what a great and safe plane Boeing had made, and how safe it was for us to fly. Yeah. All true. Not informative. His comments comparing Airbus planes to Boeing just showed his ignorance (777’s are fly-by-wire, too) and the rest of what he had to say on Saturday was a waste of air time. Oddly enough, his appearances on the Sunday morning shows were excellent, with cogent, informative comments that were right to the point. I guess we should never trust a squid on Saturday night. You never know what they have been consuming.

What Fox did extremely well Saturday was to pursue the numbers. Airlines are loath to talk about numbers until they have had a chance to triple check their rosters and passenger service computers. It is way too easy to not have everyone who is on the plane identified, or to have people who were checked in but who did not get on the flight as a passenger. This has improved since 9-11, but at the last moment they are more interested in getting the jet off the jetway and off into the air that being absolutely accurate with names and numbers, even though when something like this happens everyone thinks they ought to be perfect. Fox pursued every count at each hospital, pushed officials to tell what they knew and then followed up to make sure it was accurate. I’m not really sure why it is important, but it was something they did well.

Sunday morning was a lot better. Fox had people who had actually been into and out of SFO, they had the NTSB doing their stuff and grownups answering (and asking) cogent questions

At no time did anyone comment about the fire. Fortunately, the jet was almost out of go-juice when it impacted the ground. I’m sure there was almost nothing left when they landed. I know we were always short when we finally got home. ATC knew it, of course, and they made allowances for us and gave us unasked-for traffic preference. But Asaina had no weight in those still-intact wings. They sat there, inert, as the fuselage burned even though both engines, with lines conveying all those refined oil products from the wings into the engines, sat there unattached. One of the engines, the one which ended on the right side of the fuselage, burned a little, but it did not look like it burned through the skin of the plane.

Something burned into the fuselage, though.
All the way through.
After everyone got out. Remarkable.


Random Link


From the Notebook

Justin Morneau

Image via Wikipedia

-Captain Boggs laughed when I asked him about sleeping traffic controllers. Guess it’s not all that worrisome.

-I was tasked with finding out how many other MLB pitchers have thrown no-hitters after Tommy John surgery by an old chum on Twitter. After a lot of research, and arguing with other people on Twitter, it turned out Parker Hageman posted the answer on my Facebook page seconds after I asked. For those wondering, Liriano’s no-hitter was the third thrown by someone after TJ surgery. Kenny Rogers was the first to do it with his perfect game in 1994. He recieved the surgery in 1987 while in the minors. Anibal Sanchez threw his no-hitter in 2006 after his 2003 surgery (again, while Sanchez was in the minors). Liriano was the first person who got TJ surgery after making the majors to throw a no-hitter. Since Tommy John got his surgery in 1974, over one hundred fifty pitchers have received the surgery, there have been 79 no-hitters and only three of them have been by TJ surgery recipients. For those wondering, Liriano’s no-hitter was not the worst one ever thrown. Not even close.

-I’m against Selig’s proposal to expand the playoffs to include more teams. I’d prefer instead an expansion of the number of games played to 7/9 versus the current 5/7. Adding more teams will add to the randomness of the playoffs, which is a bad thing. Expanding the number of games will reduce it, while also increasing revenue.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and Obama is a political genius in not releasing the photo. He will let the conspiracy theorists fester again, then embarass when the time is right. Just like the birth certificate/OBL-death combo where Trump went from headliner to loser. I am sometimes shocked by the political prowess of the Obama administration. Luckily, they misstep just as often, as we’ve seen from the aftermath of the OBL execution.

Justin Morneau‘s career is not dead. I took a look at some of his stats, including BABiP, Swing%, GB/FB/LD%s, HR as % FB and others. The results are telling. Morneau is making contact at basically the same rate. His plate discipline is just about the same. The missing component is just home runs. As he gets stronger, more of his fly balls (FB) will leave the park, his BABiP will rise and the old Morneau will return. He’s not having problems making contact. He’s not more or less disciplined at the plate (basically), he’s just weak. He lost 12 pounds to the flu in April, and didn’t have a complete spring to get in shape. Parker Hageman took a closer look at Morneau, and suggests his mechanics have changed and pitchers are burning him by throwing the ball on the outside of the plate. That too might explain the lower number of FBs leaving the ballpark for Morneau. I think Parker overrstates his case because Morneau’s LD rate this year (about 15%) is close to his career rate (18%). I’d expect to see a bigger drop, especially considering his LD rate has been around 15% in several previous seasons. I’d be tempted to rest Morneau until his strength returned.

-Delicious, the online bookmarking application I use to produce all those awful ‘links’ posts, has been sold by Yahoo to the YouTube creators. The transition will be complete by midsummer. I don’t know if I’ll still keep using the service, depends on what changes. I’m quite interested in ending the ‘links’ posts. We’ll see.

Books Read:

-Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things.” This long poem from the first century is part of the GBWW ten-year reading program. Lucretius presents several of the earliest arguments against teleology and Divine intercession. Some of his arguments are remarkable in their construction and rather strong. Others are absolutely silly, including some of his arguments regarding the existence of “soul” atoms that have no weight and leave the body after death. His passages regarding nature are beautiful. His materialism, absurd.

TSA=Terrorist Win

Seal of the Transportation Security Administra...

Image via Wikipedia

Regardless of the question of civil liberties and constitutional rights, there’s another problem with the TSA.

The terrorists are still killing people, indirectly, thanks to their 9-11attack. They are doing this by changing American habits in regards to transportation.

And the executor of their success is the TSA.

First, an assumption: The expanded TSA security procedures discourages people from flying.

If people avoid flying, they either stay home or travel by car. How many people? We can’t be too sure. I went looking for a graph, and here’s one from BTS:

It’s hard to see exactly what’s going on in the graph, so I amateurishly added some trend lines to the above graph in MSPaint:

Right after 9-11, there was a huge drop in travel. There was a decent recovery, then a plateau until about 2006-2007. Since then, there has been a severe downtrend in travel passengers. We can’t be sure exactly why. The recession plays a big role, increasing fuel prices could be another culprit. We can’t be too sure. But people aren’t flying like they used to.

[No matter what, that beautiful linear trendline before 9-11 is gone and gone for good.]

We also need to remember that added security adds time. Suddenly a 45 minute flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee absorbs three to four hours. For someone living in Woodbury, it makes more sense just to drive to Milwaukee. I think it’s obvious that more people will drive medium-length (500-1000 miles) trips instead of fly because of the hassle flying has become.

As just a rough guess, let’s say that all this hassle has reduced the total number of air travelers by just 2%. If most of these people drive to their destination instead of staying home, that means about a million people a month who would have flown are driving.

For ease of calculation, let’s say these people each drive 1,000 miles. This is a billion extra car miles. According to the NHTSA, there are 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles driven. So there are an additional 11.3 deaths per month because of the TSA hassle. This is an extra 135.6 deaths per year, which is equivalent to a major aviation disaster.

[I know this from experience, long distance travel is dangerous. You drive tired, lost, frustrated, at night, on unfamiliar roads and in whatever weather conditions are handed to you. So this might be an underestimation of the danger.]

This ain’t good.

There is more evidence supporting my hypothesis. I found a poll on pollingreport.com (21 November, ABC News/Wash. Post) that shows 20% of people say these new security procedures make them less likely to fly, in comparison to the 10% who say more likely, and 70+% who say it doesn’t matter. So these security procedures drive away twice as many people as it attracts (bad business model).

[This is ignoring the fact TSA may be encouraging the spread of communicable diseases by not changing their groping gloves.]

Play with the numbers. Find your own estimate. No matter what, you can’t help ignoring the conclusion that the terrorists are still killing people without even trying, a decade after their last successful terrorist attack on US soil.



For Captain Bogs

Rec’d via an email from Dick.M.:

A C-130 was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 flashed by.

The jet jockey decided to show off.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, ‘watch this!’ and promptly went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier.

The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that?

The C-130 pilot said, ‘That was impressive, but watch this!’

The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes and then the C-130 pilot came back on and said: ‘What did you think of that?’

Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, ‘What the heck did you do?’

The C-130 pilot chuckled. ‘I stood up, stretched my legs, walked to the back, went to the bathroom, then got a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll.’

Continental Flight 3407

From Captain Bogs:

This is your Captain speaking…

Another accident, another quest to find the reason why, so we don’t do this again.

Except this time, we have already have had a chance to fix things so it doesn’t happen again. But the FAA will not take the actions necessary to fix the problem despite the fact that the NTSB pointed at this type of anti-icing system as the cause of an accident 15 YEARS ago. So 50 more people pay with their lives because the FAA does not want for the commuter airlines to have to pay for an effective anti-icing system. It always comes down to money vs. lives, and when the cost in lives gets too large, the FAA will act. I hope that balance has at last been reached.

Basic training. Anti-ice systems in use at the present time are a heated leading edge of the wing, used by all the larger (737 and up) jets. The turboprops in the commuter ranks use a system where the leading edge of the wing has a rubber coating covering a pneumatic tube (more like a network of tubes, actually). With this system, the rubber expands when the air is applied, and the ice is supposed to break off the wing.

Anti ice systems have to deal with three types of wing ice. There is clear ice, which is formed by large super cooled drops of water which freeze when they hit the airfoil. This type of ice is hard to see, but is normally smooth. The aerodynamic characteristics of the wing are basically unchanged as the large drops adhere closely to the wing. Weight builds up quickly, however, and this type of icing can build to inches of heavy ice before it is noticed. The pneumatic anti-ice system works well on this type of icing if it is seen and taken care of early before the ice gets to be so thick that the pneumatics are not strong enough to dislodge them.

Pneumatic systems do not work so well with either of the other two types of icing, mixed and rime ice. Both of these happen with smaller drops of water that make smaller ice crystals on the wing. The problem with that is that the ice layer can be very flexible, going out and back with the rubber boot, and eventually forming a covering that builds outside the range of movement of the rubber boot. This makes the pneumatic system ineffective when you need it most, as the mixed and rime ice are rough and cause the aerodynamic characteristics of the airfoil to degrade.

The expanding rubber is an effective system. Well, at least that’s what they try to tell us. I am much more inclined to believe Ernest K Gann, Airline Pilot, the author of a number of fictional books on aviation, but most importantly, the author of the nonfiction book, Fate is the Hunter. He tells us of an encounter with ice in a DC-2(!!), an aircraft that has the same type of pneumatically powered anti-ice systems. Didn’t work for him either, although he and his crew were able to land the old crate before the ice forced them down. That was in the early 1930’s, so this is not a new problem.

Both systems are designed to handle only light icing. Anything heavier can overwhelm the system no matter which type of anti-icing system you have. Then you will have increased drag, possibly degraded lift and a lot more weight right when you have less lift to keep you in the air. Too much of this, and you stall your wing. This is what just happened, and we are all horrified at the result.

Each time an aircrew gets into ice they are presented with the facts that they have a degraded wing, increased weight, decreased power (both systems bleed air off the compressor of the turbine, taking power away from the engines) and an unknown type of ice. Each encounter has to be handled on an ad hoc basis, especially if you have a rubber boot system. You apply the anti-icing and try to evaluate its effectiveness.

As soon as you are in ice you become a test pilot, because no one has taken your aircraft into this exact icing event. This is even more important when you have to change the configuration, either by putting out flaps or dropping the gear. Anything like that changes your environment from where you are and have handled to something you know will be different but you know will require more power. (All configuration changes in the landing sequence increase drag, which must be overcome with more power.) How much more power? Enough, but not more. Or less. Again, this is what just happened. They were where they needed to lower flaps to prepare for landing. The movement of the flaps changed their aerodynamic characteristics enough to increase the power required more than they were ready for, and they stalled right into the ground from 2000 feet up.

The crew knew they were in icing. They had their anti-icing system on. They were doing what they were trained to do. It wasn’t enough.

When I flew the Jetstream 2000 it had a rubber boot on the wing as its anti-ice system. I never trusted it. I made sure that the anti-ice went on only when we had enough ice on the wing that it would break off in large chunks no matter what kind of ice we had encountered. One time we had clear ice, and there was so much ice on the wing when we noticed it and turned on the system that we popped up 100 feet as the ice flew off. It made a sound like a pistol shot. Scared the hell out of both of us, and that was the crew. I can only imagine what the passengers thought! The other times we had to use the anti-icing the ice flew off the wing and we turned the system off until we had enough ice on the wing to make the ice brittle so the system world work. That is the only way that system will work with mixed and rime icing. It is NOT the way the airline (and indeed all the airlines with this type of pneumatic system) trained their pilots to use the system. They said to turn it on and leave it on. They are wrong. The Canadian FAA says that the anti-ice system should be turned on before the aircraft gets into any known icing. This will work with a heated wing, but it will not work with rubber boots. I wonder if they have any pilots in their regulators. It doesn’t look like it.

All in all, an avoidable accident. Inexcusable! Either we need to learn how to use the boots and train our crews on how to use them in a way that will at least give them a chance, or we need to consign the rubber boots into the trash can and put what the big boys use on their jets, the heated wing. I knew about the problems the rubber boots cause long before I was a pilot. (I read Fate is the Hunter in middle school.) The ICAO (International regulators) and the FAA need to start putting safety and the lives of the crew and passengers above cost of an effective anti-icing system.