Come Fly With Me

Another story has appeared in the newspaper which raises more questions than it answers.  Four young people have been killed in a fairly local plane crash.  They all worked for Bombardier Aerospace Industries in Toronto.  The pilot was a 20-year-old male, who was so good a pilot that he had his licence to fly commercial aircraft.  With him, he had a 19-year-old female, a 22-year-old male and a 24-year-old man.

They all drove up to Kitchener, from Toronto, and rented a new, reliable Cessna 132 from the local airport.  There’s where the first question arises.  With three airports within a fifteen-minute to half-hour drive, north of Toronto, why did they drive an hour and a half to Kitchener, to rent a plane?

They told the rental agent that they wanted to fly over Toronto and Niagara Falls.  Again, if they wanted to see Toronto from the air, why not rent a plane near Toronto?  Toronto is east, Niagara Falls is south-east from here.  They crashed on a farm fifty miles north and west of here.  What in Hell were they doing up there?  A resident from the crash area stated that small planes use the uncrowded sky up there to practice “emergency manoeuvres”.  Why would a pilot who already had a commercial licence, need to practice emergency manoeuvres in a small plane?  Was he just showing off?

Witnesses say that the plane was spinning down.  The engine would race and then slow, and it and a strong wind would slow the spiral, but then it would pick up speed again.  The plane did not swoop in and leave a swath of destruction in the farmer’s field.  From the overhead photo, it appears to have smacked down on its belly on five-foot tall corn, so gently that one wing was barely snapped off.

I would wonder about a plane-crash that gentle, killing all four occupants, but I have personally witnessed two car crashes which showed just how capricious fate can be.  I watched a car go off the outside of a banked curve one night.  It tumbled corner over corner, seven times.  A four-door hard-top, with all the windows down, it left an unbelted passenger behind without a scratch, as the open window rolled away from him.  There also wasn’t an injury among the other two riders, or any of the 48 bottles of beer they had in the car.  It came to rest leaning against a little maple tree no bigger than my thumb, at the top of a riverbank, 75 feet above the water.

On the other hand, I witnessed a delicate little rear-end collision one day, so soft that the radiator in the rear car wasn’t even damaged.  Unfortunately, the passenger in the front car was killed.  Apparently he was leaning forward, just enough, and at just the right angle that the impact whip-lashed his neck, and without the headrest to support him, the impact snapped his spine.

This is a strange little case.  Did one of the passengers panic when the emergency actions started?  Did someone get thrown against the controls?  Several official agencies are investigating.  It may take a while, but I suspect that, like the Negro, mysteriously stabbed to death in the park, sooner or later we’ll get enough information to at least make an educated guess.

With the wife’s inhalant allergies, our trips are restricted to places we can drive to.  I have only flown twice in my life.  Once we went out to the local airport for the annual air show, and found that, for $20 apiece, we could have a half-hour flight in a fifty-seater, around the cities.  I was the last to board on one flight, and wound up jammed in the last seat in the tail, with no porthole to see out of.  I managed to get a bit of a look through the window ahead of me.  Good thing it only cost twenty bucks.  It was about as exciting as riding around in a shipping container.

The other flight I had, was a bit longer, and in a little four-seater quite similar to the one that just crashed.  The president of the small company I worked for was a plane-nut.  He was the president of the local flying club.  He didn’t own the plane, but could use it whenever no-one else had it, for the cost of fuel.

He had a potential customer and his wife, that he wanted to impress, and had promised them an airplane ride.  He expected me to share his passion for flying, and voluntold me that I would be coming along on the flight after work.  The flight lasted two hours, and, at least I got to ride up front in the co-pilot’s seat, with a good view.  We flew south, out over the coast of Lake Erie, turned around and flew back.  I got to see the Nanticoke Nuclear Power station from the air.  I think it’s illegal to fly directly over it.

Halfway home, he *suggested* that I take the controls for a few minutes.  I demurred, but this was a man who didn’t take no for an answer, so I wound up flying the plane for about fifteen minutes.  It’s like when your Dad took the car out on the highway, and let you sit in his lap and steer.  Oh yeah, with seatbelts and traffic cops, we don’t do that anymore.  The controls were light and easy.  Despite my initial misgivings, I really enjoyed it, but like many other things in my life, finances put it out of my reach.

19 thoughts on “Come Fly With Me

  1. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Well, that’s terrible about the four people getting killed in the plane, but you do make it sound mysterious. (Let us know if you find out what happened to cause it).

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      Like the Connecticut devil-worshipper in Kentucky, sometimes the media get bored and don’t report any more, but I’ll keep looking. It’s not the little aerial pillow fight that killed them that’s mysterious. It’s why they started here, and why they ended up there, and how, that draws the questions that we’d never have asked, if they hadn’t crashed.

      Like

  2. There’s no way to predict what happens in an accident. Like you, I’ve seen people emerge basically unscathed from a ball of wreckage unrecognizable as a vehicle, and killed in a collision that barely dented the vehicles involved.
    When your number’s called, you’re gone. Until then you’ll live through anything. But, as Whitelady says, that plane crash sounds a little hokey to me. In more ways than one.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. I saw a truck tire vs. VW Beetle roof crash that should have killed both riders, but who got peeled out without a scratch. Just not their day, I guess. Have you ever seen the movie Unbreakable? It’s all about who dies, and when.

      Like

  3. It’s so bizarrely arbitrary, how people die—or survive—in accidents. One inch in one direction or the other, 1 mph more or less, etc etc. Have you ever read The Bridge at San Luis Rey?

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  4. Jim Wheeler says:

    It is a scientific fact that most if not all human brains do not reach maturity until the late twenties, and this affects judgement. As a career military officer I can state with conviction that this is a primary reason that young people can be recruited to at least a brief tour of travel and adventure, and I can’t help but suspect that the youth of the pilot and passengers was a factor in this accident.

    The following is a true story. In the summer of 1957 as a Midshipman between my second and third years at USNA I was participating in an involuntary training flight in a two-man Navy propeller airplane. My instructor, a young officer probably in his mid-twenties, took me up, demonstrated with some glee enough aerobatics to make me nauseous, allowed me free reign to try it on my own, and then on the way home, to my amazement, elected to land in a grassy field that was known to him. He got out of the plane, walked across the road and purchased a watermelon from a roadside stand. He flew the plane the rest of the way to base with the watermelon in his lap.

    Sometimes youth does not make the best judgements. QED

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Poor judgement is not limited to the young, but often seems to be a function of scars and broken bones. The invulnerable young DO tend to make bad choices till it hurts. Horses have free reins.

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  5. I could make some slightly-educated guesses, like they wanted to avoid the very busy Toronto airspace, or that (using an old quote) “they didn’t drive it gentle, it was just a rental”. Without knowing a whole lot more about the people involved and perhaps something of their flightplan (if one was even filed), I’m afraid all I could do is guess. If you do find out more, let us know – I’d be intrigued to have some of the many informational holes filled.

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  6. Archon's Den says:

    I’ve heard the *rental* viewpoint, but never that specific quote. Of the declining few who even subscribe to a newspaper, I’m never surprised when I ask questions or point out missing facts or inconsistencies, and have some otherwise intelligent person say, “Oh. I never thought of that.” I guess it’s too late for me to be an investigative reporter.

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  7. That’s sad about those kids, but it makes you wonder.

    Voluntold – I love that.

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder, who, who wrote the book of love.
      Someone at least one, and probably two generations ahead of you.
      I’d like to take credit for *voluntold*, but have to admit it’s from my son, who’s as good with the language as I am.

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  8. benzeknees says:

    There are some very unexplained crashes like this. I worked for a small airline as a dispatcher & was on duty when we had a plane go down. I was out of range for radio contact with the airplane. After a lot of investigation from our company & TSB, it was found our 25 year old pilot had a heart attack at the controls. Nine people were killed – 1 of them a very good friend from a neighboring reserve & a very well liked & skilled pilot.

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  9. Archon's Den says:

    Shit happens, but usually they know what it was quickly. On this one, they had to bring in experts to help them scratch their heads. My belated condolences on your loss. Which reserve was he from?

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    • benzeknees says:

      Summer Beaver, Ontario

      Like

      • Archon's Den says:

        I had expected somewhere in Alberta. I now know more about Nibinamik than I can ever use. Not too far, as the Cessna flies, from Attawapiskat, which I recently posted about. You had your own 9/11 disaster?

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      • benzeknees says:

        We lived a short flight from most of these reserves when we lived in Pickle Lake, ON. (about 30 kms. north of Mishkeegogamang). From all reports the plane just all of a sudden fell out of the sky straight into the ground a few miles from the airport, so it didn’t fly into a building but it was very sad for both communities involved for years to come.
        I will have to go back in your posts & read about Attawapiskat since we got to see some of these people from time to time, especially when the winter road to Red Lake was bad.

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  10. benzeknees says:

    Very interesting take on reserves & unfortunately sometimes true. There are some reserves where things are a little different, but it depends on the reserve. I remember a chief who lost his job because he wanted to take a portion of the money each tribal member received as a hydro settlement to pay for a sewer system for the reserve. The members of the community wanted to keep their money for themselves & ask the government for more money for a sewer system.

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