I've been busy flying the last couple of days but have an evening off right now, and the opportunity to read about and interject some comments on the recent tragedy in Smolensk. On April 10th a Tupolev jet carrying 96 people, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, crashed on approach to the Smolensk Airport in Russia, killing all aboard, the political, cultural and military elite of Poland. News reports indicate that the pilot made multiple missed approaches to to the fog-bound airport, and continued the final approach despite an altitude warning from air traffic control.
More disturbingly, the same story relates an earlier incident where President Kaczynski threatened a pilot with "consequences" when he diverted to Azerbaijan instead of landing in unsuitable conditions. That's a factor of company culture that a good investigation may have to address during the investigation. I don't have a problem with the pilot of an aircraft consulting the passengers regarding their wishes after a missed approach. Would they prefer to land as near as possible and seek ground transport to the original destination or to return home? Would they prefer to try another approach and then have to land elsewhere to refuel before returning home, or to return home in one shot? Sometimes passengers mistake this input for having the final decision, but as former president Lech Walesa recalled, "Sometimes the plane captain would make the decision himself, even against the recommendations." The captain should always be making the decision, considering passenger recommendations only after safety is assured. The fact that a Russian-built airplane crashed in Russia, to be investigated by the Russians, brings out the Polish conspiracy theorists, but while I'd totally read that espionage novel, I don't believe it is more than fiction. As Walesa also said, "We do not yet know what happened, so let’s leave the explaining to the experts."
It's not only an aviation tragedy, but a national tragedy. Poland is an ancient country with a long history of strong leadership and culture, but no country can easily absorb the sudden simultaneous loss of its leaders in multiple fields of endeavour. The terrible irony of the situation is that those on board were on their way to a memorial service for a previous generation of Polish leaders and intellectuals who were massacred by the Soviets in Katyn Forest. Approximately twenty-two thousand Poles, such as military officers, professors, lawyers, public servants, priests and other officials were executed there. It's similar to the purges Stalin carried out within the Soviet Union itself; if you remove the intelligentsia--the people capable of understanding, caring about and communicating what is wrong with your regime--then it is much easier to lead the remaining citizenry. Anyone who would otherwise interfere with your power is either dead, imprisoned or terrified.
My condolences to the families and countrymen of all those involved. I trust that Poland will find talented people to take up the reins and continue its national journey. Poland has not yet succumbed.
Well written. Indeed, the conspiracy theories are pretty laughable, in my opinion. And it is incredibly disturbing to read about the earlier incident where a pilot was threatened (and, I believe, fired) for exercising PIC authority to ensure safety. Frankly, I think the president behaved like a fool in that situation, and if a similar thing happened here, it proves my point. It's a terrible shame if it was his foolishness, combined with the pilot's spinelessness, that lead to so many deaths. However, we clearly don't know much at this point, so it's way too early to start accusing anyone of anything in this particular case. All one can say for now is "rest in piece"...
The conspiracy theories are premature. When the Russians have investigated and reported, and the report blaming the Polish pilots has been analysed by other experts, it'll be time for Poles and pilots to defend their own.
It's never too soon for conspiracy theories! I love conspiracy theories, and any stories that are woven around existing stories or facts to re-interpret them. I adore the Back to the Future movies and that episode of Star Trek: TNG where they go back in time to the Original Series episode. (I'm not fooling anyone into thinking I'm not geeky enough to know the names of both episodes, am I?)
I'm not geeky enough to know the names of both episodes...
Remind me, please? TOS was a long, long, long, time ago. Even TNG is getting a bit hazy, except for Wesley.
The Trouble with Tribbles and More Tribbles, More Troubles. They ask Work why the original Klingons don't have ridges.
Of course, thanks. TWT is a classic, of course, and now I do have vague memories of Geordi hiding in a storage bay under a pile of Tribbles.... TNG had a season or two of sillyness.
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