Tag Archives: flight 90

In Memory of Air Florida Flight 90… again

Greetings, readers. Yes, another January 13th has come around, marking the sad anniversary of a very deadly and very avoidable plane crash. I wrote a commemorative blog entry about Air Florida flight 90 seven years ago. More time has passed, but the heartache goes on. Here is a re-post of that entry.

Thirty years ago today a terrible air tragedy took place. Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport at 4:01 pm. It stayed airborne for less than 30 seconds. It hit cars on a bridge, killing four people, before plunging into the Potomac River. Of the 79 passengers and crew on the plane, 74 died. I thought about this much over the years and it has weighed heavily on my mind. Several very simple things happened and if any one of them had not occurred the crash might not have taken place.

The D.C. area was in the grip of a blizzard that day, over a foot of snow was on the ground and the airport was closed most of the morning into the mid-afternoon. Once the runways were cleared, planes began taking off again. Palm 90, as it was called in the tower, was to be de-iced, pushed back, and lined up waiting for its turn to take off.

I have seen a TV movie, called Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, and documentaries, including Discovery Health channel’s Critical Rescue: “Heroes on the Potomac,” about this event and they all concur that three things contributed to the disaster. First, when the plane could not push back easily, the Captain applied reverse thrust to aid the tug tow tractor, as it is called, in the push back. Secondly, the wings did not appear properly de-iced, so when the plane was sitting in line for take off, extra snow was piling on top of snow and ice that was already there. Lastly, and most importantly, the engine’s anti-ice systems were not engaged.

When I learned of this, it infuriated me. I thought to myself, how can a pilot and co-pilot be sitting in a blizzard and not activate the systems that would keep the plane free of freezing precipitation. Since they were a Florida based airline, however, I suppose I can understand them being used to not using the anti-ice system.

When the jet crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac River, it didn’t take long for heroes to emerge. Two gentlemen helped rescue the few survivors that were huddled in the freezing water. They were Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian. Tragedies sometimes tend to bring out the best in people. They might wonder if they have the right stuff. When the time came, both men jumped into the frigid river and did their part in the rescue effort.

Two more heroes were Gene Windsor and Don Usher who performed the daring helicopter rescue. But the biggest hero of all was a man named Arland Williams, who was so tangled in the wreckage and knew he could not escape, that he kept passing the rope to other survivors so that they would have their chance to be rescued first. He made the ultimate sacrifice. To me, it is fitting that the 14th Street Bridge was re-named the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge years later.

For family members of people who died in automobiles on the bridge, and passengers and crew in the plane, my heart goes out to you. It was a tragedy that did not have to happen in my opinion but it did. I’m certain that the FAA learned something from the accident and has taken steps to prevent bad weather crashes from happening in the future.

Rebecca and I will see you on Wednesday. Until then, take care, have a great few days, love one another and happy reading.

Enjoying virtual flight on YouTube

Greetings, readers. A number of people on YouTube put up videos of themselves being on an airplane, with their little camera facing out on to the wing. I have used some of these videos for ambient background noise to help with sleeping, and sometimes just to enjoy them. My question is: How do they do it?

I’ve Googled the equipment that is used as stated in their description and obviously it is electronic. Please, readers, correct me if I am wrong, but I thought all electronic gadgets had to be turned off for taxi, take-off, and landing. No matter. It really does add to the experience. The camera that is used can fit into the palm of your hand and can be clamped down to the window of the aircraft. I believe, but I’m not certain, that it plugs into a computer’s USB port and you can record directly into the computer.

One of my favorite videos is a flight on American Airlines from Las Vegas, Nevada to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. I really enjoy the few moments after take-off when big mountains come into view followed by the pretty clouds, and before I know it we are at cruising altitude with lovely blue skies. It was a daytime flight and everything was as bright and clear as could be.

There is more than one person on YouTube that does this. My favorite is someone who posts as inflight Video. He has videos from all over the world and my guess is that when he travels anywhere for business he records the flight. Why does this fascinate me so much? Here’s the answer.

As friends of mine and my steady readers know, I love aircraft and flying. Early in life I had thoughts about being a commercial pilot. Health issues closed that door. I do not have the time nor the money to hop onto an airplane anytime I want, turn right around and come home again. I’m silly, not stupid, and taking a several hundred-dollar joy ride for the day is out of the question. My Aunt Marilyn lives out west so I could have an opportunity to fly cross-country, I just have to find the time and funds to do it.

For now though, the flight videos on YouTube will have to do. I hope to visit my Aunt sometime in the coming year. We’ll see if that transpires.

The last two little tidbits. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the ill-fated Air Florida Flight 90 disaster, which occurred in 1982. My blog entry on this event still gets a few views during the year and I expect more around the anniversary. This post, as well as my very popular top ten list from the show Air Crash Investigation, made me think, what if I did another top ten list of favorite episodes from ACI? There are so many to choose from. I don’t think I’ve seen them all, but the ones I have seen I remember quite well. I think for next week I shall take notes and try to come up with another ten episodes for a second list. Am I expecting the same high numbers as the first top ten list? It certainly would be nice but I am grateful for any reads I get on any blog entry. I’ll get to work on that one this weekend.

Before I sign off, prayers going out to all who need it in areas of the country experiencing droughts, floods, or blizzards. The weather has been kind of freaky this winter.

Until next week, take care, have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, happy reading.

Thank you readers for staying with us. Here is #500.

Greetings, readers. When Rebecca and I began this blog in late 2011, I never dreamed that we would still be going now. Not only are we still going, but numbers and popularity seem to be on the rise. I know quite a few regular readers personally. I love it. Today’s entry is going to be a thank you and a quick recap of some of our most popular blog posts.

It is with my deepest gratitude and my appreciation that I say a heartfelt thank you to all the people who have read this blog over the years. Some of my regular readers leave comments, and I take the time to read and respond to each and every one of them. It helps me to have that feedback and connection when it happens. I am grateful to the readers who have reached out to me.

The most read blog entry, by far, is still Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories, from September 2013. This probably is caused by the continued search for the downed Air Malaysia 370 flight. But I also know from the search terms used that I can see in the stats, that a lot of the views for this entry are from fans of the show. I also am a fan, which why I wrote it in the first place. It still intrigues me that so many look at this entry each and every day. It is always at the top of the stats or near it. Many people have also looked at my follow up about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crash, though not as many have looked at that as have looked at my post In memory of Air Florida Flight 90. Suffice it to say, that the blog entries about airliners and airline disasters seem to be my most popular.

Another entry that comes up a lot in the stats every month is the one I wrote in 2012, Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, and that truly warms my heart. The majority of comments I have received have been from former students of his, and their kind words about my father are special to me. To think that Pop is still enriching people’s lives years after his passing is truly amazing.

The entry that Rebecca and I still get a chuckle about is the Top ten list of modern conveniences, from February 2013. Rebecca and I both think that it’s being used as a teaching aid, perhaps in a college or university. If any of our regular readers know what this entry is actually used for so often, please do tell. We would love to know.

The From Rebecca series is also quite popular I’ve noticed, and they do get many reads, which I’m sure puts a smile on Rebecca’s face. I think it is cool too. The one that keeps coming up so much is From Rebecca: A little bit in a hurry. We don’t know why. It was written in August of 2012 while I was on the road to Maine a few years ago.

We have a direct link to Facebook and Twitter. My friends on both social medias learn about the new blog entry almost immediately after it is published. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends are coming over from there to read my blog. I am extremely happy about this. I have 250 some odd friends on Facebook, and it is exciting to see the numbers that are generated from there. They seem to especially respond when I write about something extremely personal, which I will admit I don’t do all the time. I’ve known some of them for many years, and I care about them as much as they seem to care about me.

As I’ve said before, I have no immediate plans to end the blog. I am seriously considering self-publishing a second blog book. Most of my 500 entries were written after the first book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, was published in 2013. Rebecca and I will work on that quite soon.

It is with my utmost joy and appreciation that I close this entry by once again saying thank you to you my readers who have kept this blog such a joy for me to write. Until Friday, have a great couple of days, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

For yesterday, a brief remembrance of Air Florida Fight 90

Greetings, readers. I know I have blogged about this topic before, but yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the Air Florida flight 90 crash. As PALM 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s national airport (I think it is called Reagan National now), during a heavy snow storm, the flight was doomed from the word go. As the 737 rolled down the runway with its engines clogged with ice and snow, there was virtually no chance of a safe take-off. The pilots, who admittedly lived in Florida and never needed their de-icing equipment, failed to activate it before the flight. Had they done so, this tragedy, I think, would not of occurred.

I started to wonder how many family members and friends of the victims would still be alive after 34 years. For those of you who are, I’m certain that that date always brings a sting and pain to your heart. Once again, I offer my heartfelt condolences, prayers, and good thoughts.

This is the first blog entry of two today. Rebecca will have a top ten list coming up shortly. Take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

In Memory of Air Florida Flight 90

Thirty years ago today a terrible air tragedy took place. Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport at 4:01 pm. It stayed airborne for less than 30 seconds. It hit cars on a bridge, killing four people, before plunging into the Potomac River. Of the 79 passengers and crew on the plane, 74 died. I thought about this much over the years and it has weighed heavily on my mind. Several very simple things happened and if any one of them had not occurred the crash might not have taken place.

The D.C. area was in the grip of a blizzard that day, over a foot of snow was on the ground and the airport was closed most of the morning into the mid-afternoon. Once the runways were cleared, planes began taking off again. Palm 90, as it was called in the tower, was to be de-iced, pushed back, and lined up waiting for its turn to take off.

I have seen a TV movie, called Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, and documentaries, including Discovery Health channel’s Critical Rescue: “Heroes on the Potomac,” about this event and they all concur that three things contributed to the disaster. First, when the plane could not push back easily, the Captain applied reverse thrust to aid the tug tow tractor, as it is called, in the push back. Secondly, the wings did not appear properly de-iced, so when the plane was sitting in line for take off, extra snow was piling on top of snow and ice that was already there. Lastly, and most importantly, the engine’s anti-ice systems were not engaged.

When I learned of this, it infuriated me. I thought to myself, how can a pilot and co-pilot be sitting in a blizzard and not activate the systems that would keep the plane free of freezing precipitation. Since they were a Florida based airline, however, I suppose I can understand them being used to not using the anti-ice system.

When the jet crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac River, it didn’t take long for heroes to emerge. Two gentlemen helped rescue the few survivors that were huddled in the freezing water. They were Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian. Tragedies sometimes tend to bring out the best in people. They might wonder if they have the right stuff. When the time came, both men jumped into the frigid river and did their part in the rescue effort.

Two more heroes were Gene Windsor and Don Usher who performed the daring helicopter rescue. But the biggest hero of all was a man named Arland Williams, who was so tangled in the wreckage and knew he could not escape, that he kept passing the rope to other survivors so that they would have their chance to be rescued first. He made the ultimate sacrifice. To me it is fitting that the 14th Street Bridge was re-named the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge years later.

For family members of people who died in automobiles on the bridge, and passengers and crew in the plane, my heart goes out to you. It was a tragedy that did not have to happen in my opinion but it did. I’m certain that the FAA learned something from the accident and has taken steps to prevent bad weather crashes from happening in the future.