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sometimes when you're having a bad week, something puts it all in perspective
dave-oh my god!

he past five years has marked an unprecedented era of safety in the U.S. aviation industry, thanks in no small part, I'm sure, to the events which transpired on 9/11/2001. In fact, there have been no major airplane crashes since November, 2001 in the U.S. That ended today when a ComAir commuter jet carrying 43 passengers and 3 crew crashed shortly after take-off from Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, KY. It's all over the national media right now, however being a small city where not much happens on a regular basis, they're still scrambling their own correspondents to the area. The local television stations have pre-empted their regular programming and are feeding a lot of their information up to the networks and cable news outlets. One of the crew, is believed to have survived the crash and is in critical condition at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, but the rest of the flight's passengers have been killed.

The news are making wild speculation about whether the plane may or may not have used the wrong runway based on anecdotal evidence on the crash site in relationship to the layout of the runways. I personally find that very, very hard to believe. That means there would've been a complete breakdown in communication between the pilot, the tower, and the ground crew. Also, the runway in question would've not even been lit, as it's only a daytime use runway.

The last restaurant job I held before entering the trucking industry was at the airport. I was the General Manager of the Food and Beverage services in the airport and worked closely with the airport administration and the airline management, particularly Delta/ComAir. Part of those duties was the provision of "continental breakfast" boxes for the ComAir flights every day. As janietrain pointed-out in her entry, Lexington, and central Kentucky in general, is a relatively close-knit community and there's a chance everyone will be touched by this in some way or another, whether knowing someone who was on the flight or someone who did.

This is just awful.

Now I've got to figure out how I'm going to get to the south-side of Lexington from Frankfort this afternoon to see my kids. I'm definitely not taking Versailles Rd.

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The NTSB is now confirming via NBC that the plane did take off from the shorter runway. Early speculation seems to point to the newly paved runway being a source of some confusion. There used to be a white runway and a black runway. Both require a left turn. If the pilot frequents Blue Grass Field, he's probably accustomed to taking the black runway. Last weekend, during a paving project, the initial section of the shorter runway was paved with black asphalt. One wrong turn based on selecting the "black" runway may have cause this entire incident.

By the way, jainietrain? That's the best misspelling EVER!

Sorry 'bout the misspelling. :(

Yeah, I just got home from seeing my kids and turned the news back on. That's nuts. Regardless of what repaving there was, not only did the pilot not pay attention to the painted number on the strip (or the first officer) but they completely ignored their instruments, which should've been giving them an incorrect heading.

Let the lawsuits begin.

Breakdowns in communication will and do happen. Consider the worst plane crash in history which resulted from a breakdown in communication so avoidable it defies belief: Tenerife Disaster.

My heart really goes out to those families. Speaking as one utterly terrified of flying, I can't imagine a worse scenario.

And that whole "Call an 800 number" authorites told the victims' families just pissed me off.

It's starting to look like this was completely pilot error. He DID take off from the wrong runway it has been confirmed. This would mean that he ignored the painted runway number, the fact that the runway was unlit, and that his instruments were incorrect since the were facing the wrong direction. And he still took off.

Holy fuck.

They sure tore the hell out of the landscape.

Jesus Christ. This is terrible. Hope you're getting to the chillun's okay.

Fire-related deaths rather than smoke inhalation? Those poor folks.

I went the back way through Versailles on 169 to Keene then took 1267 and came out by the Ramsey's on Harrodsburg Rd. I left like, with an extra hour and a half just in case. Got there in about the same amount time as I always do and had time to kill so I went KROGERING.

The Beaumont Plaza Kroger is the bomb.


I had some cat there try to be my personal shopping assistant like a year or two ago. I finally told him to buzz off, I can find my nuts and berries on my own.

They had a muhfuggin ANTIPASTO BAR up in there. I got some roasted mushrooms with red peppers in some sort of garlic vinegar, some sushi, and some awesome cheese for lunch today.

Shut up!


That shit is cursed.


I am starting to think that Versailles Road leads to nothing but a bedlam of evil anyway.

This is all we talked about today on the way to the gift show and during our stay in Louisville (and why Charlie was late to pick me up--he was watching the story on the news and lost track of time).

So you don't think this has anything to do with the runways just getting paved? This kind of story makes me totally understand why people are so afraid to fly anymore.

I remember when TWA Flight 800 crashed in 1996. A 13 year-old boy named David Babb was on that flight. He went to school with many of my church-friends, so I vaguely knew him through them. I can remember how everyone in our community was torn up over this boy's death and how the people saying, "it could never happen to me!" changed their tune. Sure, it didn't happen to us, but the crash showed that both young and old can die any time, any place. Even when you think you are safe.

I guess the repaving is indirectly responsible, but it's certainly no excuse. The pilot and first officer obviously ignored or missed a lot of other things that they should've been paying attention to.

I hate this. I can be a lot more forgiving of mechanical error, but when someone was grossly negligent in a job where the safety of others is paramount, it really really irks me.

Yeah, this is just about a worse case scenario to me. When I'm on an airplane, I generally have a good idea where the plane is when it's on the ground. If it's looking like it's on the wrong runway, I'd be freaking out bigtime.

A CRJ-200 takes over 5000' to get in the air. One with 50 passengers...

The wreck is maybe two tenths of a mile from the end of the shorter runway and the fence at the end of the runway, less than a tenth of a mile, was clipped.

The tower at a smaller airport will give clearance to takeoff as soon as a plane leaves the gate. They generally won't pay any attention afterwards unless ATC tells them there's another plane incoming, and ATC is generally not at the airport.

Well, I'd guess the tower really had nothing to do with it. Since it's been confirmed that they did indeed take-off from the wrong runway, I would be inclined to believe it was all human error within the cockpit. I'm sure they asked for clearance on the proper runway before they ever left the gate, then didn't pay attentiont ot he big ass number painted on the pavement... or the fact that the lights on the runway weren't on... or that their instruments were giving them incorrect heading information from their flight plan.

There's something in the paper here about the lights. Although the airport decided to stop maintaining the lights, it may have been possible the lights were on.

Still, it sounds like multiple errors were made unless there's something else going on which we don't know about.

4 of the passengers were from Gall's on from my dept of Export. If they werent waiting til Oct for me to transfer to audit, I might have also been on that flight. another friend of mine in the CS dept was good freinds with one of the other 4, plus the guy who got a job transfer that she applied for so she too might have been on that flight as well. Gall's will be making a release at startup tomorrow morning. and I knew the Exportt person well. Our dept will be effected by it in many ways

Yay for delinquent transfers.

My ex-wife's husband works with a guy whose son was on the flight.

(Deleted comment)
Nothing to be sorry for. :)

It's a bit farther-reaching than just the Lexington community. As part of a news spot on here advertising the 10 p.m. news in Eau Claire, it was mentioned that the young lady serving as today's flight attendant was a graduate of UW-Eau Claire (aka, my new school). Most people who attend this university are from this area.

It's heartbreaking.

Yeah, I figured that with the crew, they could be from just about anywhere. Being a Sunday, though, I imagine most of the passengers were locals. Two of them were a couple who had just gotten married the night before and were leaving for their honeymoon. :(

The pilot in command has ultimate responsibility to make sure they are on the correct runway. Other factors may be contributory. Only having 1 person on duty in the tower was an FAA policy violation, and he was operating on only 2 hours sleep between shifts ... an extra or more alert set of eyes might have saved the day; but it's not the controller's responsibility once clearance is given. The dark, the repaving and altered taxiway, might have contributed. Maybe if we had a pilot to chime in here, but apparently it's not that unusual for a pilot to set the directional instruments to the runway heading. He's supposed to cross check with the magnetic compass to be sure they are close (magnetic and gyroscopic or GPS heading will be about 4 deg. off in Lex. - but the difference between runways 22 and 26 is closer to 40 deg.). If the pilot thinks he's on the right runway, sets directional to the runway and forgets to check the magnetic compass ... we saw what might happen.

Something else not even discussed (that I've seen) ... the co-pilot was older and more experienced (definitely in total hours and I think hours in type, too). Just a hunch; but perhaps this had to do with pilots' union rules. When a pilot goes from one carrier to another he drops down to the bottom of the ladder.

Semper Vigilans

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