Author Archive

Test Pilot May Face Prison But Prosecution of Boeing in 737 MAX Disasters is Unlikely

October 15, 2021

Mark Forkner, formerly a Boeing test pilot, was to be arraigned in Federal Court in Texas today for fraud for his role in the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX airliners that killed a total of 346 people. Forkner is the first individual to be criminally charged for hiding Boeing’s flawed design of the 737 MAX from regulators. One might find this lone wolf prosecution curious considering that in legal documents signed by Boeing earlier this year, the airplane maker acknowledged “fifty or more employees” had “participated in, condoned or was willfully ignorant” of Forkner’s deception of the FAA. The consequences of the deception are… Read More…

Can Your Next Vacation Make You Smarter?

August 19, 2021

Zermatt, Switzerland – It’s a no-brainer that visiting museums and historic sites can make a vacation an educational experience. But kinetic activities, say a heart-rate elevating rafting trip or a tour by bike can also make us smarter. People who immerse themselves in nature get other benefits too, including enhanced memory, cognitive function and creativity, a feeling of well-being and bonding opportunities with like-minded fellow travelers. That science backed up what I’d already believed to be true was liberating. No longer did I have to feel guilty about choosing to go snorkeling instead of an edifying but more sedentary outing like visiting a local landmark…. Read More…

TWA 800 Conspiracy Theorists, You’re Wrong

July 16, 2021

Saturday, July 17th marks the 25th anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747 that exploded shortly after takeoff from New York, killing all 230 people on board.  While many events since that day in 1996 have eclipsed the story in size and scope (the 9/11 attacks and the Corona pandemic to name but two) the theory lives on that the official cause of the crash was covered up. “Look-backs” at the accident necessarily include the unlikely scenario that the flight from New York to Paris was felled by a missile. But the theory flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that… Read More…

Traveling With Ignorance and Uncertainty. Yes, I Bought a Campervan

July 15, 2021

It took eight months from that day in May 2020 when I first started thinking about getting an RV until I took possession of my new campervan. While that’s shy of a full gestation period, I do find myself murmuring, “Hello baby,” each time I approach it, ready for my next road trip. Yes, Ladies and Gents, I bought a campervan and it has taken possession of me. From the position of still not knowing much about this thing called #vanlife, Here are some things I have learned already. There is a lot to learn. Other RV owners are eager to help. Some are brilliant…. Read More…

Southwest 737 Max Flight Returns to Airport After Cockpit Fire Warning

July 13, 2021

A Southwest Airlines 737 Max made a rapid return to Baltimore Tuesday morning just minutes after takeoff after a fire warning horn sounded in the cockpit.  Southwest Flight 4136 left Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport headed for Phoenix at 6:43 but was in the air only briefly before the fire warning bell and airspeed over speed alert began to sound. Other people on the radio frequency could hear the audible warnings blaring as the pilots turned the plane around and landed. Emergency vehicles were waiting on the runway as the plane touched down. The pilots requested that firefighters check for smoke or signs of… Read More…

Head of FBI Probe Into TWA 800 Crash Dies, Leaves Mixed Legacy

July 6, 2021

This post has been updated to included confirmation of Kallstrom’s death and details concerning the cause of death. James Kallstrom, the 78-year old former head of the New York office of the FBI, died on July 3rd. According to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, Kallstrom struggled for six years with an illness related to his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam in the sixties. Edmond J. Boran, the foundation’s president told me Wednesday morning that Kallstrom’s exposure in 1966 and 1967 only began to trouble him fifty years later when a mysterious rash appeared on his upper torso. He was treated with chemotherapy…. Read More…

Former Delta Pilot Jailed for Making Death Threats

June 21, 2021

NOTE TO READERS: Several readers, including acquaintances of the pilot discussed in the blog post below, have criticized me for a headline since changed which asked “Was he Unstable?” In their opinion, the acts for which this person was arrested were unrelated to his work at Delta Air Lines, and occurred several years after the airline questioned his mental stability and following an extremely contentious relationship between the airline and the pilot which ended in his firing. You can read more in the comment section. In deference to the logic of these arguments, I have changed the headline. I will also remind readers that the… Read More…

It’s A Long Road to Stardom – Comedienne Makes Cross Country Walk for Selfi Documentary

May 3, 2021

    If Jessica Watkins seems a few steps ahead of everybody else, that’s because she is. Before outdoor recreation became as popular as it is now, Watkins was walking across the country. When only millions of people were vlogging rather than the 2.6 billion doing it today, Watkins was reclining in a pup tent recording thoughts both comical and poignant into a laptop camera. And before women started to convert the trauma of sexual assault from fear and shame into something more powerful, Watkins was using her own rape in standup comedy routines. And now, three years after her trek, Watkins is surely one… Read More…

Robert Francis Controversial Face of TWA 800 Investigation Dies

April 29, 2021

During the second half of the nineties, the patrician visage of Robert Talcott Francis dominated the news.  And yet, when he died earlier this month at the age of 83, few outside of the aviation press published obituaries. This is not an obituary either, but my impressions of a thin slice of the man’s career when he was caught between feuding agencies and a multinational catastrophe. In 1996, Francis, with his Oxford shirts and aristocratic manner, was the vice-chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and as such he was the face of two high-casualty, high-profile airline crashes. In May, he was in Miami when… Read More…

The Aviation Industry Knows, “Don’t Make a Mistake” is Not a Solution in Taser Handgun Confusion

April 19, 2021

When Minneapolis police officer Kimberly Potter fired her service revolver instead of her taser on April 11 killing Danute Wright, she was not the first to say this fatal action was a mistake. Sixteen police officers have done something similar according to the website The weapons have a similar feel and both are worn in holsters on an officer’s belt. They both fire with finger pressure on a trigger. That this weapon confusion could happen repeatedly over the course of decades has many in law enforcement calling for better training and urging officers to be more careful. But there’s a more thoughtful and effective… Read More…

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