Flying Lessons Blog

“An Unthinkable Day” as Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Kills Parents and Children

January 27, 2020

President Obama’s characterization of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant on Sunday as as “an unthinkable day” speaks to more than the loss of a sports legend, but to the devastating effects on four families. Nine people were on board the Sikorsky S-76; Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna. Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Altobelli and her parents Keri and John Altobelli. Christina Mauser, a basketball coach and the mother of a 10-year old boy who was not on the aircraft and three others including the pilot, who at this writing have not been identified. Such a loss is indeed unthinkable as the former President said,… Read More…


Wait. Stop. Please Don’t Threaten Prosecution in Ukrainian Crash

January 12, 2020

Despite the tragic loss of 176 people onboard the Ukrainian International Airlines flight shot down over Tehran on January 8, no one should applaud the promise made in a Tweet from Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, to prosecute those responsible for the attack on a civilian airliner. And let’s not get too excited either about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. Retribution sounds satisfying in the heat of the moment, but it will not make another attack less likely in the future and that should trouble everyone who flies. Since the news first broke that the Ukrainian International 737 crashed… Read More…


Remaining Objective While Missile Theories Fly in Tehran

January 10, 2020

Much of the evidence so far in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 seems to suggest a missile brought down the airliner on Wednesday. A surprisingly illuminating video posted by The New York Times shows a pin of light ascending, then intersecting with what is presumably the plane, followed by a large explosion. The plane continued in some sort of flight before crashing. Whether it turned back to the airport purposefully, is difficult to discern from the available information. Twelve seconds after the intersection of the purported missile with the airliner, the camera records the sound of the explosion. (Someone better at math… Read More…


Iran Includes US & Boeing and Considers Explosion In Ukrainian Crash Probe

January 9, 2020

#BREAKING: It is now known that the Flight PS752 of #Ukraine International Airlines exploded mid-air before impacting ground in #Shahriar, near #Tehran, #Iran. Cause of the explosion of this Boeing 737-8KV with UR-PSR register is unknown.This video shows it moments before crash👇 pic.twitter.com/b1n6TVBccD — Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 8, 2020 Iran plans to include the United States, Boeing and the joint American/French CFM Engines in its probe into Wednesday’s crash of a Ukranian International Airlines Boeing 737 that killed 170+ people. In a rapidly filed report (in Persian) with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Iranian government indicated it would follow the United Nation’s internationally… Read More…


What’s a Hunch and What’s Hooey in Ukraine 737 Disaster in Tehran

January 8, 2020

There’s a lot we don’t know about what caused a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 to crash shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday morning. But two things are already abundantly clear. First, a number of people who should know better are spewing baloney when they say they know what didn’t happen. Second, what is known so far is consistent with a possible missile strike considering Iran’s launch of 22 missiles just hours earlier. This doesn’t prove anything, it is simply a hunch worth sussing out. In a video posted on Twitter, a ball of light can be seen streaming… Read More…


A Decade in Aviation Departs Leaving Challenges in Its Wake

December 31, 2019

The request for an email interview arrived in my inbox from Namibia shortly after Christmas. The journalist wanted my thoughts about, what else, the Boeing 737 Max. The October 2018 and March 2019 crashes of two of Boeing’s newest jetliners and the subsequent grounding of the fleet for an unprecedented 9 months (and counting) is the aviation story of the decade. Like a pebble tossed into a pond, the ripples continue to radiate outward, making the Max debacle a story of global significance. Norway, Indonesia, Argentina, China, Mauritania, Iceland, Morocco, airlines in these and other nations have been impacted by decisions made at Boeing and… Read More…


Grinch Arrives at Airport Where Santa Died, Pilots Say

December 24, 2019

On the Friday before Christmas in 1959, private pilot Charles Chase Jr. died dressed in a Santa suit. The 39-year old father and aviation aficionado had taken his airplane over Central Maine, loaded with Christmas presents for the children in the town of Dover-Foxcroft. It was an annual tradition that would see him land right back on the private airstrip he helped develop and distribute presents to the kids eagerly awaiting their flying Santa. Gifts and Santa are an unbeatable combination but sixty years ago, one can imagine that the kids were probably equally excited about the airplane. On this particular Christmas, however, Santa’s arrival… Read More…


A Deadly Week Illustrates Private Flying Has Its Risks

December 2, 2019

Two high-death count general aviation accidents punctuated the American Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In South Dakota on Saturday a Pilatus PC-12 turboprop crashed in near blizzard conditions shortly after taking off from the south-central part of the state on an 800-mile flight west to Idaho.  Nine people were killed, three were injured. Four generations of men from the Hansen family, business owners in Idaho Falls, were aboard the airplane. The Pilatus may have been overloaded as this airplane has seats for two crew and up to nine passengers and 12 were aboard. On Wednesday, Otabek Oblokulov, his wife and three children 3, 11 and 15 years… Read More…


A Lesson For Boeing & the FAA From the Time When UL Certified Airliners

November 25, 2019

In the early days of aviation, those with the second most to lose in a crash – the first being the occupants of the airplane – took responsibility for making sure the plane and its pilots were safe. That entity was not the government, it was the insurance companies. “They couldn’t prevent pilots from stunt flying and the planes would crash and they would pay out,” said Rachel Madden an archivist with UL in Illinois, also known as Underwriters Laboratories. The National Aircraft Underwriters Association asked UL to register pilots, to create airplane manufacturing standards and to inspect and certify the finished products. Between 1921… Read More…


No Proof of Muilenburg’s Claim Boeing’s Self-Certification Makes Skies Safer

October 30, 2019

Among the many claims made by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg that does not pass the smell test is the one he made on Tuesday, asserting that America’s broken process for certifying the airliners is in fact, enhancing air safety. Boeing has attained never-before-levels of autonomy in self-certifying the airworthiness of its designs after lobbying Congress for that authority and in fact, actually helping to write the new laws, according to The New York Times.  “The creation of the delegate authority has enhanced safety,” Muilenburg told members of the Senate’s Commerce Committee on Tuesday. “There has been a 90 percent improvement in safety, a portion of… Read More…


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