(from The New Yorker magazine.) SaveSave
“Aircraft do not crash of themselves.” Tough love? Too harsh? Nevil Shute did include designers and managers in his paradigm of human error. Quote from Slide Rule: The Autobiography of an Engineer, 1954.
A new episode of the National Geographic Air Crash Investigation TV show, titled Killer Attitude is hard for me to watch. It describes the crash of a perfectly good Northwest Airlink Jetstream 31 from MSP to Hibbing, MN, on 1 December 1993. I was flying out of MSP that night, same airplane type, same airline. I knew the captain, Marvin. I remember the grief counselors in the MSP crew room for two weeks after the crash. And one of the presenters, Craig Railsback, is a friend. We met 25 years ago, as young first officers in Jetstream 31 training at this … Continue reading This hits close
This time last year the American ship SS El Faro went down in a hurricane with the loss of all thirty-three crew (Wikipedia page). It seems impossible ‘in this day and age’ that such a thing could happen. It wasn’t a mechanical issue, or a rogue crew, or pirates, or a freak storm. The Washington Post reported one of the deck officers voiced concern prior to sailing, emailing friends and family, “there is a hurricane out here and we are heading straight into it.” Yankee magazine has published a deep read that is worth the time for any pilot to … Continue reading Why would a ship sail into a hurricane?
One of the best books written by a test pilot/astronaut is Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Mike Collins. He was a USAF test pilot, spacewalked on Gemini 10 and went to the Moon on the historic Apollo 11 mission. Here he talks about an interesting airmanship trap — Death by Embarrassment: It’s hard to admit a slip or mistake or error. But don’t let that kill you.