Saturday, October 04, 2008


I arrive in Regina and meet the other pilot, the one who needs the antenna. We stay in a hotel overnight, where we've been instructed to lay low, take it easy, and check out late, to prolong starting our duty days tomorrow. The plan is to leave one airplane here for another pilot, and then for the two of us to both move on in the same airplane, because the next customer wants two pilots and one airplane.

There's no telling what time this antenna will catch up with us and we don't know when we'll need to leave or how late we will have to work. So we meet for a leisurely 9 am breakfast, where I take advantage of a free copy of the Globe and Mail.

There on the front page is a story about an airplane crash in British Columbia. It's the same airline I was on between Vancouver and Campbell River, and the crash occurred as I was boarding my flight. The pilot and four passengers were killed and two passengers escaped with serious injuries. The ELT was destroyed in the post-crash fire and one of the survivors guided rescuers to their position with cellphone text messages.

The crew that flew me to Campbell River wouldn't have known about it yet, because it took some time for the airplane to be overdue. Perhaps on their next leg they took part in a radio search for the aircraft, just trying to find if it was on frequency. They probably knew the pilot personally, and even if they didn't, they know a dozen people who did. What a tragedy for the company whose employees all the passengers were, for the little family-run airline, and for the families of those who died.

There is frustratingly little information on the cause of the crash. In one paper the same article says they had engine problems, they stalled, and they flew into a mountain. If you're going to speculate madly, at least pick one cause, stupid journalists. They don't even realize that "stalled" has nothing to do with "engine problems."

In my room is an airline customer service questionnaire I have already filled out. I throw it away instead of sending it. It doesn't seem meaningful anymore. I keep the envelope, meaning to send something else, but do you send condolences to an airline? I know people there, but not really well enough for contacting them to come off as other than voyeurism. For those of you who read this, I'm so sorry.

I hope investigators find out what happened.


Anonymous said...

I think a note or card of condolence would be fine. At such a small airline everyone at the place will be intimately familiar with the pilots lost. Even if it never goes beyond the office staff I'm sure it'll be appreciated.

fche said...

> In one paper the same article says they
> had engine problems, they stalled, and
> they flew into a mountain.

One may safely predict this is not what
a reporter had in mind, but a plausible
sequence could be an engine failure, a
stall due to a botched recovery, and
a consequent crash into the mountain.

majroj said...

Probably an ingorant editor.