09 November 2005

Falling From The Sky

WARNING:

This is disturbing stuff to think about!

In previous posts, I mentioned that the main reason I continue teaching people to fly helicopters is because of the folks I meet along the way.
(Believe me, there's NO money in it!)

One of the first students I taught as a civilian,
I'll call him Gary,
got his private helicopter pilot's license in 1983.
We've been friends since.

In November of '86,
Sara Jean and I were invited to his birthday party.
I was standing near the refreshments when his Mother approached with a smile so strange, I immediately asked "what're you up to?"

She answered, "I just thought one pilot would enjoy talking to another........come along, I have someone I want you to meet!"

Curious,
I followed like a puppy.

Nice lookin' man.......One of Gary's in-laws.
I shook his hand and introduced myself, then said,
"She's up to something. What kind of craft do you pilot?"

"A Mini-Sub."

His company was based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
When the Shuttle Challenger exploded,
the U.S. Navy initially tried to handle the recovery themselves,
but quickly found their machines were not
the most efficient for the task.
They hired Gary's in-law to come pick up all the pieces.

Did you anticipate my first question?
"Were they alive?"

"Six of the seven had deployed and were wearing their emergency oxygen packs."

As I recall, after the explosion, it took about 15 minutes
for the first pieces of the spacecraft to start splashing in the water.


Three years earlier........in 1983.
Korean Air Flight 007, flying at 35,000 feet,
is shot down by a Russian Fighter aircraft.
It took 12 minutes for the Boeing 747 to crash into the sea.
Did the passengers don their oxygen masks?
Were they functional?
If so, like the Challenger Astronauts, they had a long,
terrifying time to think about their lives, and the reality of dying.

It is macabre,
thinking about how people would behave under such circumstances.
Obviously, some would be hysterical.
The Astronauts, the Pilots,
and some individuals on the airliner
would be methodical , trying to find a solution to the very end.
But 12-15 minutes surely would seem
like an eternity under such circumstances.

It's difficult to imagine.

The Challenger tapes are available,
but to avoid distressing families
NASA won't release them.
Do you think they should be made public?
If they were, would you want to hear them?

2 comments:

GG said...

No, I don't think the public needs to hear those recordings or see the pictures. The people who investigate the accident might need to but not the public.

There might be some of it the family should know about,,, I'm thinking that 15 minutes would be a very long time and there might be some last words for loved ones. But other than that, it would be gratuitous

There are videos of accidents on TV and probably all over the Internet that shows terrible things, lives cut short in tragic ways, and sadly there is a market for it. The world realy doesn't need more of it, though.

NASAemp&PilotJunkie said...

Due to the Freedom of Information Act NASA has had to release all their documents. Go to this website and request the information you desire - http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/FOIA/agency/

This week on the National Geographic channel they are doing the Columbia disaster on the "Seconds from Disaster" show.

As a JSC employee I find all this stuff interesting.