Flying Lessons Blog

Ethiopian Crash: Out of Control and Evocative of Lion Air

March 10, 2019

One hundred and fifty-seven people were killed in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Sunday. The airliner en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi slammed into a plateau near the town of Bishoftu southeast of Addis creating a crater that leaves little of the airplane intact. It suggests the force with which the airliner hit the ground. “You can look at the accident site and make a couple of guesses from the gouge in the earth; this airplane was out of control when it hit the ground,” said John Gadzinski, a 737 captain and air safety specialist. It was, he suspects, “flying… Read More…


A Highway Runs Through It – the Runway that’s Walkway, Bikeway and More in Gibraltar

February 21, 2019

With a stiff wind blowing from the east, Ingrid Lang of Kreizlingen, Switzerland steadied herself against the gate, her cell phone tightly clasped in her hand. She and her husband had pedaled their bikes from a campsite a few miles across the Spanish border just to be at the barricade on the south side of Gibraltar International Airport in time to see British Airways flight 493 depart for London. An aviation geek from childhood, Ingrid may have been the most enthusiastic bystander but she was far from the only one. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers were also watching, having been brought to a temporary halt by… Read More…


Nurse Arrested for Fatal Error – An Aviation Safety-Inspired Investigation Should Follow

February 15, 2019

There’s one thing every medical patient and every medical professional should demand now that a nurse in Tennessee has been criminally charged with accidentally killing a patient; a full and public investigation into the factors that led to this tragic mistake. This could and should be the same as what happens following air accidents. Thirty-five-year-old Radonda Leanne Vaught gave a fatal dose of the paralyzing drug vecuronium rather than versed, an anti-anxiety medication to a 79-year old woman who was being prepared for a body scan. Because both drugs begin with the letters v e, Vaught selected the first drug offered by the computerized medication dispenser failing to… Read More…


Could Pilot’s Death in Ditching Have Been Avoided by Air-Sea Communication?

February 12, 2019

How difficult would it be to find a basketball in an area of the ocean slightly larger than the city of Dallas? That was the job facing the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Southeast over the weekend. Cutters, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft spent 21 hours unsuccessfully searching for 68-year old Robert Hopkins, a pilot for a Florida air cargo company who ditched in the Atlantic on Friday afternoon, about 13 miles off the coast of Miami. After failing to find Capt. Hopkins by midday on Saturday, the search was called off as Hopkins was presumed dead. The flight’s first officer, 28-year old Rolland Silva was recovered by a Coast… Read More…


Protecting Super Bowl Sky Should Raise Civil Air Patrol’s Profile

February 3, 2019

For as many pilots who plan to stay on the ground Sunday, all the better to watch the 53rd Super Bowl being played in Atlanta, there will be some who think, “Hey, what a great day to fly!” If your plans include flying over Georgia, be sure to check the temporary flight restrictions and special air traffic procedures above and around Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Some of these notices went into effect earlier in the week and some will continue through February 5th according to the Federal Aviation Administration. TFRs and special procedures are nothing new for pilots, though the ones that apply for special events like… Read More…


Aviation Law Firm Colson Hicks Eidson’s #metoo Moment

January 18, 2019

It may be harder in these chaotic days to discern what’s right. For the personal injury firm Colson Hicks Eidson, which does a robust business in aviation disaster litigation, this is my opinion; follow the example set by other companies that have severed their association with alleged sexual predators. When airplanes crash, Colson Hicks Eidson enjoys the services of Manuel von Ribbeck and his sister Monica Ribbeck Kelly. One or the other of the two, using the name Ribbeck Law Chartered, arrive at the scene of the disaster, hold press conferences, meet with victims and survivors of air disasters in order to sign them up… Read More…


Willful and Whimsical, Southwest’s Kelleher is Gone but Not Forgotten

January 4, 2019

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, its chairmen emeritus and an undisputed member of the pantheon of airline titans, died on Thursday, January 3, at 87. His sixties-era effort to establish a Texas-based airline in the decade before U.S. airline deregulation was an improbable effort.  Nevertheless, the carrier’s unusual business model and playful attitude both among employees and with passengers, transformed the industry so much, that four decades later, the increase in air connectivity in a community following the arrival of a low-cost carrier is often referred to as the “Southwest Effect.” There are many reasons for the success of Kelleher’s baby, now America’s largest domestic… Read More…


Air Travel Holiday Treat: Turbulence Avoidance Coming Soon

December 20, 2018

Like Santa himself, turbulence appears in the blink of an eye and out of the blue. Unlike Santa, it leaves tears in its wake.  Getting knocked around the cabin during an otherwise ordinary flight is the leading cause of injuries for airline passengers, not to mention exceedingly frightening. Just ask any of the 192 people aboard Aerolineas Argentinas Flight 1303 from Miami to Buenos Aires in October. Fifteen of them were treated on arrival to Buenos Aires for injuries sustained during the bumpy flight. But just in time for the holidays, the International Air Transport Association is promising something nice; a turbulence reporting program that… Read More…


Lion Air Lawyer Accused of Sexual Assault in 2010

December 17, 2018

Aviation lawyer Manuel von Ribbeck, often accused of being an ambulance-chaser, has of late been threatening reporters writing about the less-seemly practices of Ribbeck Law Chartered. Those journalists may have something new to question him about. While they’re at it, they might want to question his enablers. von Ribbeck arrived in Jakarta shortly after Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the sea killing all aboard on October 29th. The Boeing 737 MAX was brand new and sporting a new software system that may have played a role in the disaster. With an enthusiasm that borders on gleeful, von Ribbeck told Lion Air family members that… Read More…


Curious Partnership As Lawyers Race to Secure Lion Air Cases

November 29, 2018

What does a Harvard-educated lawyer and former U.S. prosecutor from white-shoe law firm have in common with a scrappy duo of sibling attorneys with no U.S. office or phone number on file? The brother/sister act’s most public legal experience is defending themselves from a range of complaints, contempt of court threats and ethical infractions. Both sides of this incongruous pairing, Curtis Miner, the aforementioned Harvard man who is a partner in the Miami firm Colson, Hicks, Eidson, and Manuel von Ribbeck and his sister Monica Ribbeck Kelly are alike in their indiscriminate pursuit of aviation accident cases with the promise of a big fat payout. Having… Read More…


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