Terror at 41,000'

From:         ak336@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (John Dill)
Organization: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (USA)
Date:         22 Jan 93 02:59:50 PST
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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!
  Don't blame me.....I voted for Bush!