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The Black Box: All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents
Readers join desperate pilots in the cockpit as they fight gravity and time in a plane that's falling out of the sky.
Anyone who watches the news knows about the "black box." Officially called the cockpit voice recorder, the black box (which is actually Day-glo orange) records the final moments of any in-flight accident. Often it provides the only explanation of a crash -- inevitably, it provides a heart-breaking, second-by-second account of intense fear tempered by unyielding professionalism.
This 1984 Quill title has been completely updated to include twenty-eight new incidents occurring between 1978 and 1996. Some are famous, like the 1996 Valujet crash in the Everglades and the ill-fated launch of the space shuttle Challenger; other disasters range from commuter prop aircraft to jumbo airliners and a pair of Air Force planes. Few have ever been revealed in their entirety, each, without exception, is absolutely gripping.
In this new edition, editor Malcolm MacPherson has, wherever possible, added weather notes and descriptions of events in the cockpit and cabin, heightening our vivid sense of being there during the final moments. Provided by the National Transportation Safety Board and vetted by an experienced airline captain, these are unforgettable case studies in ultimate emergency -- authentic, immediate, filled with drama, terror, human frailty and error, and unquenchable courage.
“AIR CANADA 254! Do you see traffic at 1 o’clock…"
…about 4 1/2 miles???”
“Yeh, 621 has ah, crashed–“
So there it was. The pilot of an inbound Air Canada Vickers Viscount, Flight 254, who was next in the (landing) slot, right behind the ill-fated Flight 621 “Stretch” 8 (DC-8-63) confirmed that 621 had indeed crashed.
And it was in this chatter between the YYZ Tower, Departures, AC 621, and AC 254 that it all unraveled for Flight 621. And while all blame for the eventual outcome for the accident seems to fall on the Captain and First Officer…that IS NOT my opinion.
If you read the almost 200 page report (half a page, of which, is pictured above), and you have attention to detail, the truth indeed rises above all the “chatter” surrounding the accident.
The truth is in the talkback.
Both then, and 33 years later when I discovered it. Additionally, a little legwork as the police say…and well…
Wait for the book, when I lay it all out, in true irrefutable fashion ~
I will give one clue, however.
Captain Peter Hamilton, a former decorated WW II RCAF Halifax bomber pilot and hero, who was shot down and captured by the Nazis, and even spent time as an POW for his country, for the duration of the war, certainly, certainly, had the deck loaded against him on that day.
Mr. Hamilton who has my deepest and heartfelt respect, tried desperately, and in vain, to save his “ship” on that horrific day and that is what makes it so much a tragedy, and not just an accident.
I am cut to the heart, and enraged, every time I evision that highly skilled, and experienced aircrew, all of them, frantically trying, trying, to turn it all around…and they could have!
They could have!
That is the bitter and tragic truth!
Yes, even after losing an engine, and even though the starboard wing was on fire. They could have. They had both the experience, and skill. These were Air Canada jetliner pilots for gosh sakes! Not just Cessna 172 weekend warrior wannabees!!
Except for one thing…critical information was denied them at the fateful (turn-it-all-around) moment, when had they most assuredly needed it.
And that made all the difference, folks……between safely landing and crashing.
When the compromised Air Canada DC-8 finally plunged earthward, the SO Rowland apologized one last time to his captain, Peter Hamilton for his error with prematurely deploying the spoilers. But Peter was already gone. It was determined that he suffered a massive heart attack just after entering the descent.
And while there is more…that too will have to wait for the book.
RIP Flight 621.
© Paul Cardin - Friends of Flight 621
In-flight meal, Air Malta, 2006
I can't remember what this was at all, but it was one of the best economy meals I have ever had on any airline. It was tasty, splendidly done, crunchy potato wedges, and the vegetables had some taste and hadn't been cooked to death. Tasty doughnut-type thing for dessert with lovely crunchy sugar on top. Highly recommended.
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