Monday, August 10, 2009

Varig Airlines DC-8 Crash in Liberia

"There's nothing like the smell of kerosene and chard flesh in the morning." Steve

This is the official airliner accident report of the crash;

When entering the stratus layer, the captain told the co-pilot that it was no longer necessary to report altitude and speed and was instructed to look outside and to report as soon as he could see the runway.
Over the FR locator beacon, the altitude was about 800 feet, whereas his correct altitude should have been 520 feet. He then increased his rate of descent to between 1200-1500 ft/min, by reduction of power and by pitching the nose of the aircraft down. About 15 seconds after passing FR the co-pilot reported runway in sight, saying also that the visibility was poor and that they were too low. Descent was continued until the DC-8 impacted the ground 6023 feet from the threshold of runway 04, 180 feet to the right of the runway extended centre line with the aircraft coming to rest after a ground slide of approximately 850 feet. The aircraft caught fire.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the pilot-in-command to arrest in time the fast descent at a low altitude upon which he had erroneously decided, instead of executing a missed approach when he found himself too high over the locator beacon."

WTF? Captain? Drunk again?

This is my unofficial report;

Sometime after 3 Am, we were awakened by the phone. A plane had crashed at Roberts Field and help was needed. I went with my dad that morning. It didn't take long to reach the south end of the airport about 7 miles away.

There we saw the DC8, the top 1/2 fully engulfed in flames. the one airport firetruck had run out of water and had broken down so the plane just burned until there was nothing much left to burn. The stench of kerosene and burnt flesh was an overlay of the normal swamp/bush smells. though we had driven through some low lying fog, there was no fog in the area of the crash having been burnt away from the intense fire.

One person was found in the bush standing against a palm tree. He had walked away from the crash into the tree where he died from injuries and burns.

As the wreckage cooled, bodies were carried out of the plane and lined up on the ground. As people tried to put the bodies in the bags, they found that they would not fit. The dead had burned in their seats and had taken a permanent seating posture. In order to get the bodies in the bags, they were stepped on to break the legs into a flat position. Such a sound.

Later that morning after returning home to clean up, we went to for brunch at the "Pan Am Hotel" at Roberts Field. All the survivors not in the Firestone hospital were there, still smelling of kerosene. The pilot was escorted past the crowd that was screaming at him in what seemed like every non-english language on the planet. We thought they were going to mob lynch him.

Every story you read or head about have much deeper stories known only to the people who were on site.

Just another brick in the wall that they call Steve.



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  2. My mother was on that flight (flying from Italy) and she happened to get up to adjust some chocolate easter eggs in the overhead compartment that she was bringing for her nephews and neice. Because she was standing at the time of impact she was thrown towards the front of the plane and was able to get off the plane quickly and only suffered some bumps and scratches and a lost shoe.