Saturday, February 14, 2009

Details Emerge in Plane Crash

More is being learned about the plane crash in Buffalo, and apparently it's going to take awhile to achieve certain objectives.

For example, the cold weather and the extent of the wreckage could mean that it will take four days to recover all the bodies. The plane apparently fell flat rather than going into a nosedive, which could expand the radius that must be searched for bodies and debris.

There are reports that the crew reported "significant ice buildup" on the aircraft's wings and windshield minutes before the crash.

And frequent fliers may want to read the article by Ken Belson and Christine Negroni in the New York Times: "The 74-seat turboprop plane that crashed Thursday night near Buffalo was part of an expanding fleet of small regional aircraft that have become a vital part of the country's airline industry and are increasingly the only air link available to far–flung towns and smaller cities," they report.

Air travel has been getting negative publicity lately, with the ditching of a flight into the Hudson River a month ago. No fatalities occurred in the Hudson River incident. But even with those two recent events, nearly 2½ years had passed since anyone died in the crash of an airliner in the United States. Anyone who boards a plane knows that crashing is a possibility, but the odds are against it.

Yesterday, the most prominent name among the presumed dead belonged to Beverly Eckert, the 57-year-old widow of a Sept. 11 victim and a member of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee.

She may still be considered the most prominent victim after all is said and done, but there were other noteworthy people on board that plane, apparently.

Among the victims were:
  • Alison Des Forges, 66, an historian and human rights activist.

  • Coleman Mellett, 34, a jazz guitarist with Chuck Mangione.

  • Gerry Niewood, 65, a jazz saxophonist who also played with Mangione. In 1981, Niewood performed with Simon and Garfunkel in their "Concert in Central Park."
There may be other notables who died in that crash, but even if there aren't, that's a significant number from a group of 50.

But, while perhaps not as accomplished, there were others on board who led interesting lives, as CNN points out.

The Buffalo News has been devoting its resources to the story extensively.

Even if they aren't normally superstitious, staff members at the News could be forgiven for approaching Friday the 13ths with a certain amount of trepidation from now on. This makes two consecutive Friday the 13ths that have brought tragic news stories that had a direct bearing on Buffalo. The previous Friday the 13th came last June — and brought the death of Buffalo native Tim Russert.

Not-so-good news, guys. The next Friday the 13th will be next month.

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