Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Plane Crash W/ Senator Ted Stevens

There comes a time in all aviation that we have to deal with these very sobering moments. I was no fan of Senator Stevens and will not pretend to be in the least bit, but my political opinion of Senator Stevens is irrelevant for the purpose of this particular blog entry.

It takes a special type of person to dream to be a pilot of any kind, regardless of the aircraft. Whether it is hot air balloons, hang gliders, supersonic jets, helicopters, powered parachutes, gliders... you have to be the type of person that loves to be in the air, and loves the idea of flying through clouds, etc. Those of us that love the air will look up at the sky at circling birds and wish we could join them. We get excited when we go up the elevators of tall buildings.

But then there's that whole thing about returning to the ground. Sometimes that can be more complicated than getting in the air. And every now and then, there is a tragedy that occurs that reminds us of this. Those of us that fly must take a minute to pause for the sadness of any loss of life that occurs from a crash. But then the time comes to stop morning, and to start studying.

Every crash is a lesson. There a many different ways to crash. Most crashes are caused by pilot error. Then there are crashes that are caused by atmospheric conditions. Others can be caused by hardware failure. Crashes are examined by the NTSB and reports are released afterwards. NTSB investigations can take quite some time, as they should. Examining a crash is a scientific process... you must examine all available evidence to reconstruct what happened. In general aviation, they have many tools for this.

A big deal that is coming out in light of this crash is the fact that the pilot did not file a flight plan. Flight plans are very important for helping the pilot to establish an idea of how they will navigate their aircraft from start to finish. The thing is that deviations from flight plans are not uncommon, and sometimes they are necessary. I have watched multiple broadcasts from CNN where several of their anchors, such as Rick Sanchez, have been raising a lot of hoopla about the fact that the pilot did not file a flight plan.

The following is an example of what a general aviation flight plan looks like...

That is a flight plan for domestic flights. A international flight plan is slightly more detailed.

How much good would a flight plan have done in this particular situation? Reports from pilots say that the weather in the area of the intended landing site was horrible, which would have been a great reason for the pilot to find another landing site. But this is apparently in a very remote, mountainous part of Alaska.

I am going to continue to watch this story, as more details will come out. It is hard to come to any hard conclusions without having so many details.

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