More on Ingrid Newkirk
Yesterday I blogged about a piece over at the Huffington Post. I've learned more in the meantime.
1- Others not just myself are questioning the veracity of what Ms. NewKirk wrote. The best reply was done by Patrick Smith, an airline pilot himself. Here are his comments.
As an airline pilot, air travel columist (Salon.com) and author, as well as somebody who sympathizes with many of the sentiments on this site, I was startlingly offended by your cartoonish depiction of what happened on a plane en route to Norfolk. It is these sort of distorted, fear-addled recollections that make people needlessly afraid of flying. (Damn, and after reading that New Yorker piece about you not long ago, I had a certain newfound respect for your work!)
1. "Hurricane Watch"
Hurricane Watch means almost nothing. Hurricane Watches are standing alerts that have little to do with actual weather on the ground at that moment. What were the actual wind gust conditions on the field? And how would you, as a passenger, have any idea?
2. "Severe crosswinds"
How do you know? And what was the allowable crosswind component for your aircraft? Do you even know what type of aircraft it was, or what a crosswind component means, or what the actual implications for crosswinds are?
Did you somehow have access to the actual, real-time ATIS data at the airport? How were you able to ascertain wind vector and velocity?
3. Wind Sheer (sic):
You can't spell it, and from your description you don't don't seem to understand what windshear actually is. And note: there hasn't been a serious windshear incident in this country in 20 years.
4. "wind sheer warning area?"
There is no such thing. But okay, while I get your gist, did you somehow have access to on-field LLWS advisories? Were you in the cockpit, calculating the data for approach and VREF speeds? In any case, windshear advisories are, alone, not unusual and rarely indicative of danger, depending on the exact values, which of course you would have no access to.
5. "Blown out to sea?"
That's totally absurd. Were you in a kite? A balloon? Maybe the crewmember reported that *the storms* were blown out to sea, or else was euphemizing something.
6. "No one, including the crew, thought we would live"?
Again, that is completely ludicrous.
7. Had "No required backup plan?"
What does that mean? Do you have any idea how complicated the strictures are for dispatching a commercial flight, and what rules must be in place on every leg covering weather-related diversions? Was this flight somehow dispatched illegally? And if so, which is extraoridinarily unlikely, how would you know?
7. "hadn't enough fuel to go further"
Really? Were you watching your seat-back fuel gauges, actively calculating the fuel paramaters for a diversion/alternate, as laid out per flight plan?
8. "Cockpit recordings I obtained later":
CVR tapes are not released to the public, period, even after catastrophic air disasters. The only people who have access to them are the NTSB and official investigators, and only after very serious incidents and accidents. Transcripts are sometimes released to the press during investigatons, but never the actual tapes and only in the event of a serious mishap, which this was not. Would you mind explaining where/how you obtained this information?
An airline pilot is saying what I'm saying. Mr. Smith didn't even pick up the date not being possible for a Hurricane watch. Just says Mr. Smith is no more perfect than myself. ;)
2- This morning Ms. Newkirk replied back.
Yes it was wind shear. I should hire a proofer. It was a tornado watch, not a hurricane watch. It had been in effect that afternoon and the storms were intense with lightening at the time of our attempted landings (2 failed, 2 succesful in the end) "everywhere" and with cross winds. I have the weather reports too from the airport. I have the FAA report, and I paid for the cockpit recordings, the tapes. If the skeptics would like to pay to copy them, you can have them too. I'm not sure why you don't want to believe this, unless you are a pilot who has taken risks and shouldn't have and feels on the spot. I spoke to pilots to get my facts at the time and they were appalled and incensed that when all other other planes had chosen to divert for good reason, our guy decide to take a chance with our lives and come on in. It wasn't right. Not to the mother of two beside me or to the other passengers who are lucky to be alive. Pilots are human. Some think they are infallible, some are in a hurry to get home. It is something to think about and hope that the FAA and the airlines take cavalier attitudes more seriously.
I am definitely not an airline pilot. Or a pilot of any kind.
I'm still skeptical but emailed Ms. Newkirk to ask for the copies she offered to share. If she does so, I'll blog again here again saying I'm satisfied. Stay tuned.
Update- Ms. Newkirk replied to my email already. She's says she has tower recordings. I'm emailing her again to work out a way for me to get the recordings. We're working something out and I'll post an update when I get the recordings. Right at the moment I'm open minded, and totally open to having my skepticism of the last 24 hours or so proved wrong. Stay tuned.