Re: Plane Nose Dives From Break

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         09 Jul 94 16:58:52 
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>A friend of mine recounts a story about changing seat positions
>while in flight ... the seat slid back to the stops after rotation,
>leaving him with a view of nothing but blue sky, out of reach of
>the rudder pedals and barely able to hold the yoke.  He maintained
>control ...

Something similar happened in the 1950s on one of Eastern's Lockheed
Electras shortly after it had departed Boston's Logan Airport.  Alas,
unlike your friend, the plane dived into Boston Harbor, killing all
aboard.

The story became rather interesting because the crash was blamed on
pilot error.  Lockheed was no doubt eager to exonerate the aircraft
because this was around the time when Electras were falling out of
the sky on a regular basis.  There also wasn't any clear evidence of
a failure of the aircraft.

I'm not certain of the details, but as I recall it was several years
before the truth came out.  The pilot's family wanted to clear his
name, or maybe it had something to do with insurance.  After a long
search, it was discovered that the latch mechanism on the pilot seats
in Electras (or maybe it was just this particular Electra) had had a
history of problems.  The relavent parts were recovered from the
bottom of the harbor and it was discovered that the seat latch had
indeed released.

The cause of the crash was revised to show that the seat latch had
failed, causing the pilot's seat to slide forward, which in turn
caused him to push forward on the yoke.  Before he could recover,
the aircraft dived into the water.

I found the whole incident to be quite educational -- such a little
thing (well, seemingly little) could fail with such tragic conse-
quences.

--
Karl Swartz	|INet	kls@ohare.chicago.com
1-415/854-3409	|UUCP	uunet!decwrl!ditka!kls
		|Snail	2144 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025, USA
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