Re: A brief commentary

From: (Gerard Foley)
Organization: The Greater Columbus FreeNet
Date:         29 Jul 96 02:29:41 
References:   1 2 3 4 5 6
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Rudi Vavra ( wrote:

: Aaah, yes, but again, you are analysing this with the benefit of
: hindsight. Spatial disorientation is a very powerful and deceiving
: sensation. The only way to combat it is to trust your instruments.
: When your instruments don't agree, it's very hard to decide which
: instruments to trust.

: We are all human, and one of the human traits is to stick with your
: convictions. Once the crew make a decision and elect to trust one set
: of instruments, they will go with that decision even if all
: subsequent events try to tell them that their decision was wrong. It
: takes a clear analytical mind to evaluate these signs and break the
: chain. There are plenty of examples of this "fixation", the flight
: that went into the ground because the flight crew were trying to
: figure out whether the front gear was down and locked, or whether the
: green indication light was faulty. Even though the ground proximity
: warning sounded some twelve seconds (from memory, don't quote me on
: that) before impact, no one pulled back on the yoke, because the
: whole crew was convinced they were flying at 2000 feet. They
: convinced themselves that the GPW was faulty!!! (The power of
: assumption.)

    In the mid-thirties a DC3 captain on a United flight from San
Francisco to Los Angeles flying on instruments took the wrong turn
at an intersection and flew out to sea, convincing himself, his
copilot and the dispatcher that both his compass, radio compass
and radio range receiver were all wrong.  It was not until another
dispatcher came on duty and managed to convince the captain that
he should turn 180 degrees and all instruments would agree.  He
ran out of fuel and made a good belly landing close to the shore.
He got everyone out through the cockpit windows, where everyone
but the captain and one other were washed off the floating airplane
and drowned.  The plane was brough ashore with the cabin dry.

  For years after that all UAL pilots were required to report
their magnetic compass headings at every radio checkpoint.