2002-10-26 / Letters

Don’t Blame Pilot

Don't Blame Pilot

Dear Editor;

Before the NTSB blames the pilot of flight 587 - a man I am not related to and have never met - they'd need to be able to respond to the following questions.

Question 1: An aircraft lifting off from runway 31L and seeking to head south or southeast (tracking 'wavey') has the option of flying the harbor or slicing the peninsula. Tracking the harbor means less than a 90-degree port turn, whereas slicing the peninsula is tantamount to a 180-degree turn in the same short linear distance. Any schoolboy who ever flew a model airplane knows that all three forces of torque, yaw and slipstream will be significantly increased on an inclining flight choosing the 180 degree option. Ever hear the groan of the aircraft engines struggling 700 feet over Beach125 Street. Ever watch the Concorde as it struggles to fly a fuel-saving path over our homes. They're fighting those enhanced forces. The increased whine of the engines is one result of counteracting forces. If the NTSB really thinks there is a danger of any pilot flying either the tail or rudder off the plane, then why not enforce your own 'fly the harbor rule' and ease the forces. They don't enforce the rule, because they're not truly worried. The airplane manufacturers are not worried either. I too, am annoyed, but not worried.

Question 2: A vortex, the conical disruption behind the plane that supposedly "caused the pilot to overreact" is, in my opinion, a somewhat lame theory. Its forces are quickly diminished. Observe, if you will, any Friday or Saturday evening as the planes come in two by two over Dayton towers. At times there is not even a 30 second delay from one to the other. More telling even is the spread pattern where they are staggered side by side. Were the vortex really an issue, would the NTSB allow this pattern?  Not only is it allowed, it is standard operating procedure! Once again, annoying, yes, unsafe, no.

Are they really going to blame this pilot for hitting a vortex and "flying the tail off'?" Who's going to sign their name to this? How will they respond in ten years when some high school physics student writes a report showing how ludicrous this theory is? Maybe they should consider interviewing eyewitnesses.


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