Little Bits of History

June 1

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 1, 2017

1999: American Airlines Flight 1420 makes a terrible landing. The flight originated from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas on its way to Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT). The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82. It was delivered to American Airlines in 1983 and had been in continuous use accumulating 49,136 flight hours. The pilot was Captain Richard Buschmann (48) who was a US Air Force Academy graduate (1972) who had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before hiring on with American Airlines in 1979. While with the airline, he had accumulated 10,234 flight hours with about half of them flying the MD-80 series of McDonnell planes and the other half flying Boeing 727s. The First Officer was Michael Origel (35) who was with the airline for less than a year. While he had only 182 hours of flying time with the airline, he had been a pilot for the United States Navy with a total of over 4,000 hours of flying time.

Flight 1420 was scheduled to leave Texas at 8.28 PM and arrive in Arkansas at 9.41 PM. The National Weather Service’s notice of a line of thunderstorms altered those plans. At the time, policy mandated pilots to limit their duty time to 14 hours and if the plane were delayed for too long a time, a new crew would have to be found. The plane originally scheduled for the flight had not arrived in time and so this plane (N215AA) was substituted. This allowed the plane to depart DFW at 10.40 PM. At 11.04 PM, a weather advisory was updated with thunderstorms at the LIT area and Nashville International Airport was an alternate landing site. The flight crew discussed options and decided to land at LIT. They approached landing strip 22L but at 22.39 PM traffic control advised of heavy windshear and change of wind direction. A new landing strip was given.

In order to properly approach runway 4R, the plane had to circle around to line up correctly for the landing. The plane had to turn away from the airport and their weather radar only looked ahead, they lost track of the storm. They were to make a visual landing, but as they turned back, they lost sight of the runway. They were then instructed to make an instrument landing. In their rush to land as quickly as possible, they neglected to complete their airline’s pre-landing checklist. And this led to a cascade of errors.

At 11.49.32 they got their last controller message before landing. Because they had failed to set the automated systems, spoilers did not automatically deploy and the crew did not manually deploy them. The plane did not slow appropriately. They also did not have the brakes automatically controlled and the plane hurtled down the runway at too great a speed. They overshot the runway by 800 feet, collided with a structure there and crushed the nose of the plane and the left side of the fuselage. Captain Buschmann was killed in the accident as well eight passengers. Two more died in the days that followed. There were 41 passengers who were seriously injured with a total of 110 people injured out of the 145 people aboard.

I constantly make lists and itineraries and then can’t stick to any of them. – Freema Agyeman

Checklists remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance. – Atul Gawande

Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen. – Safety saying

Accidents are some one’s fault. Don’t let them be yours. – Gary Works Circle by Illinois Steel Company

Zambian Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2015
Lusaka Heroes Acre - memorial

Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial

April 27, 1993: A DHC-5D plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was heading out of Libreville, the capital city of Gabon – a sub-Saharan county on the west coast of Africa. The flight carried the Zambian national football team on their way to Dakar, Senegal to play a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Senegal. The Zambian Air Force had specially arranged to fly the team and had three refueling stops scheduled. The first was at Brazzaville, Congo and the second was here at Libreville. The de Havilland Canada DHC-5D Buffalo had taken off from Lusaka, Zambia and made the first refueling stop without incident. At the stop, there was an issue with one of the engines but the flight continued on without delay.

A few minutes after takeoff from the second refueling stop in Gabon, the left engine caught fire and failed. The pilot shut down the right engine which caused the plane to lose all power. The plane had still been in its climb and without power, fell into the water about 550 yards offshore. An investigation report issued ten years later attributed the accident to instrument error, pilot error and pilot fatigue. The same pilot had flown the team from a match in Mauritius the previous day. There had been 25 passengers and five crew aboard and all of them were killed in the crash. The team, Chipolopolo, had been doing well and they were hoping to win the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations and make their first World Cup appearance.

The plane had been in service since 1975 but out of service for five months from late 1992 until April 21, 1993. Test flights were done on April 22 and 26. Before takeoff in Zambia, a number of defects in the engines along with carbon particles in the oil filters, disconnected cables, and trace of heating were found. The plane was used for the football team’s transport anyway. There were 18 players, the national team coach, and support staff aboard the plane. The captain of the Chipolopolo team, Kalusha Bwalya, was not aboard as he had been playing in the Netherlands for PSV and had made separate arrangements to get to Senegal. Bennett Mulwanda Simfukwe was supposed to have been on the fatal flight, but was removed from the list of travelers by his employers.

It took a decade for the official report to be released by the Gabonese government. Relatives of the victims continue to lobby the Zambian government to find out how the faulty plane was ever permitted to leave Zambia in the first place. The members of the national team killed in the crash were buried at what is now called Heroes’ Acre near the Independence Stadium in Lusaka. A new team was quickly put together in 1993 and Bwalya was faced with bringing them together to face off in the African Nations Cup, just a few months away. They made it to the finals, but were unable to defeat Nigeria in the last game. The team won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 in Libreville, only a short distance from where the plane had crashed nearly two decades earlier.

Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruyff

For me soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day. I’ve had the good fortune to take part in major competitions like the Olympics, and winning the World Cup was also unforgettable. – Ronaldinho

The first World Cup I remember was in the 1950 when I was 9 or 10 years old. My father was a soccer player, and there was a big party, and when Brazil lost to Uruguay, I saw my father crying. – Pele

I need a life outside of soccer. So I very much welcome, you know, new love interests and dating and friends and family. – Hope Solo

Also on this day: Sultana – In 1865, the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
John Milton – In 1667, Paradise Lost was purchased for £5.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.
Expo 67 – In 1967, the Expo held official opening ceremonies.
Operation Moolah – In 1953, an unusual offer was made by the US.

* “Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial” by Francis Alisheke / – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Air Force One – Not

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 17, 2012

Ramon Magsaysay

March 17, 1957: A plane leaving from Cebu, Philippines disappears before reaching Manila. The Douglas C-47 plane was a two-engine, newly refurbished aircraft operated by the Philippine Air Force. It had recently been purchased and had less than 100 hours of flight registered. Five Air Force officers crewed the plane piloted by Major Florencio Pobre. It was the official plane of the seventh Philippine President, Ramon Magsaysay. It was called Mt. Pinatubo after the then-still inactive volcanic mountain of Magsaysay’s home province of Zambales.

President Magsaysay was very popular and was fairly certain of winning the upcoming elections in November. He arrived at Cebu City and on March 16 gave several speeches. His day was filled with four different speaking engagements and then a party at the home of Cebu City mayor, Sergio Osmeña, Jr. Magsaysay finally got to Lahug Airport and boarded the presidential plane shortly before midnight with the mayor’s father and former Philippine President ( the fourth), Sergio Osmeña seeing Magsaysay safely off.

The plane took off at 1 AM and headed toward Manila, about 400 miles away. The weather was clear. People on the ground later said the plane did not seem to have enough altitude as it approached the Balamban mountain range. At 1:17 AM the plane radioed the Malacañang Palace, home of the President, informing them of a 3:15 AM estimated time of arrival. No one ever heard from them again. When the plane failed to arrive, a massive land and sea hunt was instituted. Much of the flight plan was over open waters.

By mid-afternoon, locals were reporting a loud crash and subsequent fire in the mountains of Balamban, Cebu. There was only one survivor of the 1:40 AM crash, Néstor Mata. The reporter from the Philippine Herald was badly burned and it took 18 hours to transport him down the mountain, and another six months to recover from his burns. He is still alive. The President, many other government officials, and journalists perished in the crash. There was some speculation of sabotage since Magsaysay led the fight against the communist Hukbalahap movement. The crash was due to metal fatigue. As the plane tried to gain altitude, the shaft of the right engine carburetor snapped and caused a loss of power.

I believe that government starts at the bottom and moves upward, for government exists for the welfare of the masses of the nation.

I believe that a high and unwavering sense of morality should pervade all spheres of governmental activity.

I believe in the majesty of constitutional and legal processes, in the inviolability of human rights.

I believe that the free world is collectively strong, and that there is neither need or reason to compromise the dignity of man. – all from Ramon Magsaysay

Also on this day:

Wearing of the Green – In 493 or 461, St. Patrick died.
Golda – In 1969, Golda Meir became the Prime Minister of Israel.
Rubber Bands – In 1845, rubber bands were first patented.

No Fear of Flying

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 17, 2011

The crashed Wright Flyer

September 17, 1908: Orville Wright crashes the Wright Flyer and his passenger, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, is killed. Selfridge was the first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane. He was a First Lieutenant in the Aeronautical Division, US Signal Corps of the US Army stationed at Fort Meyers,Virginia.

Selfridge was born in San Francisco, California in 1882 and graduated from West Point in 1903. He ranked 31st in a class of 96 – Douglas MacArthur was first in the class. He was one of three pilots trained to fly the Army’s newly purchased dirigible. He took his first plane flight on December 6, 1907 on Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kite made of 3,393 winged cells. They flew for seven minutes covering 168 feet and Selfridge was the first recorded flight passenger. He also designed Red Wing for Aerial Experiment Association (Bell’s flight company) – their first powered craft.

The Army was considering buying a plane from the Wright Brothers. To demonstrate the craft, Orville went up with his passenger, Lt. Selfridge. They circled the fort 4.5 times without problem. Then the right propeller broke. This caused a loss of thrust which set up a vibration which in turn caused the split propeller to cut a guy wire which braced the rudder. The plane was cruising at 150 feet altitude when it began to nose dive. Orville controlled the glide about half way down before losing control. The plane crashed nose first into the ground.

Both the pilot and passenger were struck against the remaining wires on impact. Selfridge also struck his head against a wooden upright and suffered a skull fracture. He underwent neurosurgery but died without ever regaining consciousness. He was 26. Orville Wright suffered several serious injuries as well including fractured ribs, injured hip and broken femur. He spent seven weeks in the hospital recuperating. The Army bought its first military plane in 1909.

“When once you have tasted flight you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward: for there you have been and there you will always be.” – Henry Van Dyke

“You define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.” – Paul Theroux

“I wouldn’t mind dying in a plane crash. It’d be a good way to go. I don’t want to die in my sleep, or of old age, or OD…I want to feel what it’s like. I want to taste it, hear it, smell it. Death is only going to happen to you once; I don’t want to miss it.” – Jim Morrison

“If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music, and of aviation.” – Tom Stoppard

Also on this day:
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I – In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton proclaims himself Emperor of the US.
One Dam Thing – in 1930, construction began on Boulder Dam.

Plane Flies into Building in New York

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 28, 2011

Empire State Building after the crash

July 28, 1945: A plane flies into the tallest building in New York City. The building had been designed by William F. Lamb who used previously rejected drawings to create the design in just two weeks. Excavation of the site began on January 22, 1930 and the actual building was started on St. Patrick’s Day that year. There were about 3,000 people working on the building, mostly immigrants. Five of those workers died during construction. Former New York’s governor, Al Smith, allowed his grandchildren to cut the ribbon, opening the building on May 1, 1931. President Hoover turned on the lights remotely from Washington, D.C. and the Empire State Building was officially opened.

The Empire State Building stands 1,250 feet tall at the 102nd floor Observatory. Atop that is the 203 foot tall pinnacle for a total rise of 1,453 feet and 8 9/16 inches. The 86th floor has an indoor and outdoor observation deck. The pinnacle is peppered with broadcast antennas and topped by a lightning rod. It was the first construction project of over 100 floors and there are 1,872 steps from the ground to the 103rd floor. There are 6,514 windows in the building as well as 73 elevators. Also included are 473 miles of electrical wiring and 70 miles of pipe. It cost $40,948,900 to build.

In 1945, July 28 was a Saturday. It was foggy morning. Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith, Jr. was piloting a B-25 Mitchell bomber. He was undertaking a routine personnel transport mission from Boston to LaGuardia Airport. When he asked for permission to land, he was told of the zero visibility. He opted to proceed regardless of this problem. Because of the dense fog, he became disoriented. When he passed the Chrysler Building, he should have turned left. Instead, he turned right. He crashed into the Empire State Building at 9:40 AM. His plane struck between the 78th and 80th floors and caved in an eighteen by twenty foot hole in the north side of the building.

One engine shot through the opposite side of the impact and flew another block before landing atop another building. There, it started a fire, nearly destroying the penthouse of the affected building. The second engine and the landing gear fell down an elevator shaft. The fire due to the crash was extinguished in forty minutes; even today it remains the only such fire at such a height to be successfully contained. Fourteen people were killed. Betty Lou Oliver was the elevator operator and survived the event. She was lowered inside the elevator and the cable broke, dropping her 75 stories. She was injured, but survived. Despite all this chaos, the building was opened again the following Monday.

“Eddie Fisher married to Elizabeth Taylor is like me trying to wash the Empire State Building with a bar of soap.” – Don Rickles

“The Eiffel Tower is the Empire State Building after taxes.” – Anonymous

“An optimist is someone who falls off the Empire State Building, and after 50 floors says, ‘So far so good!’“ – Anonymous

“The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city.” – Terry McKay

Also on this day:
Dusting for Prints – In 1858, fingerprints are first used – sorta.
Motormouth – In 1958, Lord Jellico spoke for the first time in 19 years.