~ Archive for October 7, 2003 ~

Bizarre Helicopter Crash Story

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Authorities have spent two days searching for a crashed helicopter Columbia, Missouri based on a 911 call.  Here are some details from a TV station’s story:



He told the dispatcher his name was Larry Bishop and they were flying from North Carolina to Kansas City.

He also said there were six others on board and the pilot was dead.

Towards the end of the conversation Larry repeatedly said he could not feel his feet. Just before the phone line went dead, he was calling out a female’s name.


This is a very strange incident.  From RDU to Kansas City is nearly 800 nautical miles, well beyond the range of any helicopter ever manufactured.  You’d probably have to make two refueling stops to make it from North Carolina to Kansas City, an all-day ordeal at the sluggish cruising speeds of even the most expensive helicopters (pushing into a typical west-to-east headwing slowing the machine down even further).  Anyone rich enough to charter a helicopter would be rich enough to charter a jet or turboprop instead and fly non-stop in a tiny fraction of the time.


A helicopter that can carry 7 people is at least a $2 million machine that requires a substantial support crew.  One of them would very likely have noticed the pilots’ failure to report arriving in Kansas City.


Anyone who can afford to charter a $2 million, $1000/hour helicopter ought to be someone with, if not a lot of friends, at least a lot of dependants.  You’d think one of them would have noticed his boss’s disappearance.


If this story proves to be true it will be almost as amazing as the U.S. Navy’s failure to notice the sinking of the 1,100-person cruiser Indianapolis during World War II (see the book In Harm’s Way).


[Update:  Manila seems to be failing to post the comments that have been placed on this article.  The most interesting is a link to the audio recording of the 911 call:  http://www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/2538847/detail.html]

Prediction: Arnold will Lose

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Time to stick my neck out with a prediction:  Arnold will lose the California election today, for reasons that have nothing to do with his recent spate of bad press.  Arnold will lose simply because there are enough craven risk-averse people in California terrified at the prospect of trading a known (Gray Davis) for an unknown (Arnold as politician).  Either (a) the recall will fail and Gray Davis will keep his job, or (b) a lifelong political hack such as Cruz Bustamante will prevail over the replacement candidates without experience in politics.


[Update October 8:  Sometimes when you stick your neck out it gets chopped off…  Arnold seems to have won by a landslide.  This on top of the humiliation of arriving home from flying and finding out that philip.greenspun.com (my main server) was down for 11 hours (it runs on the photo.net box and none of the new staff there seems to have noticed or have monitors installed).]

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