Today, at 7AM, meanwhile I was having a coffee at our Operations Office; I was watching the video of the National Air Cargo B747-400 that crashed shortly after takeoff yesterday at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan.
News and media have extensively covered the accident and through the video camera of a military vehicle we have seen the last moments of the doomed flight.
As always, we’ve already heard a lot of speculation about the probable cause of the accident. From the video we can guess some type of control malfunction or a CG shift outside of limits due to load movement inside of the aircraft’s cargo compartment during takeoff, this caused a stall and a subsequent loss control thereof. While reading this came to my mind a part of the book of Ernest K Gann – “Fate is the Hunter”, in which the cargo shifts during takeoff on a Douglas DC-3 and as they have to fight desperately to keep control of the aircraft meanwhile the rest of the crew tries to move forward the load in the cargo compartment.
Those last seconds must have been a desperate fight in the cockpit of the Boeing 747 of National Air Cargo, pushing on the control wheel to lower the nose and regain the vital speed that keeps an aircraft in the air. For sure they thought until the last second that they will win the battle against an aircraft that refused to continue flying because its CG had moved completely outside of limits. Surely they also thought they could get out of this one the same way they got out of so many others. But, fate was sealed and this would be the last flight for those seven unsung heroes who are not on the news when things go well at the end of each day.
What kind of mechanism acts inside of a pilot head that we can continue every day after seeing this kind of events around us? We can call it…self defense? denial of events? always will happen to someone else, but not me?. I guess is a mix of all this..
Have you ever asked a pilot if he/she can choose its way of dying?… Imagine yourself the answer….
Tomorrow morning another flying day will begin; seven heroes are flying at higher levels, out of reach.