From: ak336@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (John Dill) Organization: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (USA) Date: 22 Jan 93 02:59:50 PST Followups: 1 2 3 4
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I'm new to this forum, so I'll introduce myself first before I relate this story. I'm an air traffic controller at the Cleveland ARTCC in Oberlin, Ohio. I've been a controller for 22 years and have quite a few avaition related stories I can tell. I'm also a commercial pilot, though have not been very active the last few years. My memory is a bit fuzzy with the dates and names (names will be changed anyway to protect the guilty) but I think most of what I'm abou to tell is the truth. A Boeing 727 was enroute to JFK at an altitude of 41,000' on this day about 1976. The pilot (we'll call him "Slim") and the co-pilot were discussing the latest rumor about the so called "step", as in boating, but relating to the increase in speed and reduction in fuel consumption possible at high mach numbers and altitutes possible with the 727. The so called "step" could apparently be reached by extending the flaps by 1 or 2 degrees, while at the same time pulling the circuit breakers for the leading edge slats (which automaticlly deploy when flaps are lowered). After discussing the procedure, they decide try it. The flight engineer had left the cockpit to attend to "personal matters" so the Captain reached behind his seat and pulled the breakers for the slats, and then the co-pilot pulled the flap handle out of the detent until he noticed a slight movement of the flap indicator (the flaps themselves are not visible from the cockpit). Satisfied that they had improved the aerodynamics of the 727, the crew was in the process of noting mach no. and fuel flow, when the engineer returned to his seat. Being a professional and concientious fellow, he scaned the panels around his station, and low and behold discovered two circuit breakers that popped. Well, you guessed it...he pushed them in, the slats deployed, and the 727 now became very aerodynamicly unstable. It rolled to the left and nosed over, despite the crews application of oppisite control movement. The next part is part conjecture (the crew wisely erased the flight data recorder after surviving), but it is known that the 727 went supersonic in it's dive from 41 grand. I think the Captain may have been the hero, as he had the presence of mind to lower the gear and not tear the wings off trying to regain control. When the crew finally did get the 727 under some control, they called us at Clevland and requested an immediate landing at Detriot. The damage to the 727 included missing or bent gear doors, missing slats (on one side) and damaged on the other. Of course, the cabin was a shambles, with food carts and debris scattered everywhere. A few pax sustained injuries...can't remember how serious now. A long legal battle took place between ALPA and the airline (Global Air?) and the F.A.A. In the end, I think the pilots were exonerated..and if you ask me....they saved the day! John -- Don't blame me.....I voted for Bush!