Friday, April 10, 2009

Dont know why

I am not sure why I look into air disasters as much as I do, seeing how I fly at least once a month you would think I would stay away from it. Northwest Airlines Flight 255. wiki link, was a MD-82 carrying 149 passengers and 6 crew. It originated in Saginaw, laid over in Detroit and then headed for its final destination in Phoenix, Az. I was 9 years old when this flight failed to lift off the ground, killing 154 on board and 2 pedestrians driving on Middlebelt (I-94 overpass). I person survived, 3 year old Cecelia Cichan of Arizona, her mother, father and 6 year old brother all perished on the plane. Her body was found just a few feet from her parents, still in her seat. The MD-82 never got off the ground due to pilot error, the flaps and slats where not in the proper position for take off. Now engineers thought of this before hand and implemented a warning device that would give notice that the plane was not ready for take off, this device was not in service.

Here is the audio from the cockpits CVR click

The story of Cecelia is nothing short of amazing, 3 years old, sole survivor of a great tragedy. Looking at scenes from the accident you cant but think it had to be an act beyond human. Here are photos, its a slide show. Everyone knows what the yellow tarps mean, one of the Dr's in charge
of the makeshift morgue said no bone was intact.

Pictures click

She was adopted by her Aunt and Uncle in Alabama and they kept her from publicity. In her 20's now, college grad, married and a Psychologist. From what I understand she
has never been to the memorial, but she does sign into the guestbook and leave a note every anniversary.

The more I looked into this tragedy, the harder it becomes to grasp. I think I always see what has happened on the exterior. The yellow tarps, twisted metal, suitcases and list of names tragically lost. Behind all that are families torn apart and in some cases families completely lost. Cecelia had to start her life over again without knowing her parents or her older brother, the miracle baby whom lost everything. The entire Best family from Mesa was lost, Father, Mother and their 3 children.
The Byelich family from Chandler and two branches of the Geiger family, one from Phoenix and one from Gilbert, all died on the plane. It wasn't until I read the name Justin Keener did I really understand loss. His story was shadowed by Cecelia's, not that it was a miracle, but to me it was the greatest loss. Being a parent its hard to think of what you would do in that situation, the moments before death. One one NWA flight the stewardess explained to the mother of a baby that in case of an emergency she is to put her son onto the floor and hold him there. Could you? Planes are not meant to crash, in fact there is nothing safe about them, except if they take off and land, then it did what it was meant to. In those final moments of flight I dont think my children would be anywhere but held tightly. I fly alone for work and have come to the realization that if something did go wrong I could only sit it out, hope that they know I love them. The most tragic part of falling to your death would be seeing the fear in their eyes, them looking to you to save them, something you have no control over. Alaska Airlines flight 261 dropped from 30,000 feet to 24,000 feet when a horizontal "jackscrew" stabilizer failed. The passengers on board had to feel relief when the pilots leveled the plane out, but a few minutes later their fate was decided. The Mcdonald-Douglas MD-83 went into a vertical roll and dropped 24,000 feet into the ocean, no one knows what they did their last few moments. Justin Keener was 12 years old and flying alone on Flight 255. He was visiting his Aunt and Uncle in Michigan, this was his first ever flight alone. His parents were not aware they plane had crashed, untill they arrived at the airport to pick him up.

Here is an excerpt written on Justin:

Robin Spotleson still cries when she talks of her son.

She also tries to think of what he would be like as a grown man.

"He was just a sweet boy, kind of quiet," she remembers. "He was very kind. Very loving."

She and her husband, Justin's stepfather, arrived at the airport unaware the plane had crashed. She was surprised to hear her husband being paged when they walked into Sky Harbor but presumed it was to tell them that the plane would either be late or early.

She continued toward the gate while he went to hear the message.

When she arrived at security to walk through, she said that it was very quiet and that people stepped back when a policeman approached her.

"The policeman walked up to me and touched my arm, I remember that," she said. "He started walking me. I remember a door opening, and there were people crying and grabbing at me."

Spotleson has managed to get through the hard times, in part, because she and her husband had a daughter five years later. Her faith also tells her that she will see her son again.

"Twenty years is a long time," she said. "Justin would be 32 now. But it still hurts, I still think of him every day."

The doomed flight lasted only about 19 seconds, but Spotleson cannot bear the thought that Justin was alone during those terrifying moments.

After the crash, she learned that man sitting next to her son was a father flying without his children.

"In my heart, I believe he was holding on to my son," she said. "I have to believe that."

My knowledge of Justin is minimal, what I know is what you know, yet the story still makes my stomach turn and eyes burn. It's impossible to think what could have happened for those brief seconds, what unfolded, what he thought. I dont know how his parents dealt with the situation. I would have to know everything, I would have to see.

After writing this I decided to look into my upcoming flight this Sunday the 19th. For the first time ever I will be flying on a NWA Mcdonald-Douglas DC9-50.

A list of those lost click


Mother Firefly said...

What a touching and well- written post. You brought tears to my eyes - you have a way with words and describing emotion that cuts right to the heart.

I myself have a hard time looking at pictures of crashes of any kind, especially air. I have a hard time flying but I make myself do it - and when I know I'm going to be flying soon, I avoid any kind of 'air disaster' movie just because I don't want those kinds of images in my head when I get on the plane. I realize you're safer in the air than on the ground, but still each and every time I get on the plane, I pray that if something were to happen, that it would happen fast and that I wouldn't even see it coming, I can't imagine sitting there and knowing this is the last few minutes of my life.

Probably your best post ever - you mentioned you don't know why you're drawn to such things but I wouldn't think about it too much - just continue to write about things that move you because you do an amazing job of pulling us into your own feelings.

Keep it up.

harleygirl13 said...

What a touching and well written post. It brought tears to my eyes and made me think about all the flying I do. I sometimes think what if when I fly. I always say a prayer. There are always so may families on the flights all excited about vacations. Whole families and just parents. I don't know what I would do. Really there is nothing but I totally agree I would be clinging to my child or my loved one. Roger had to go and pick up his sister at Metro shortly after the crash the same day. He said it was terrible and that the debris extended for miles.
It is hard to imagine. You should have been a writer of some kind. You have such a way of telling and describing things. One can tell that you love your children very much just by the way you talk about them and other children as well.

Mother Firefly said...

I agree, except it's never too late, he can still be a writer.

Jumbo's Lezis said...

Porn star too, I hope its not to late for that. :)

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