EAL flight 212 – the crash.

fullsizerender-7The crash of flight 212 comes into my consciousness from time to time. These days it’s usually Stephen Colbert who takes me back to that time. After Stephen became famous and I became a huge fan of his, I learned that he lost two brothers and his father in that deadly crash.

The crash was (and is) particularly poignant for me because my first husband and I were working for Eastern Airlines at the time, in Charlotte, where the doomed flight went down. I worked in reservations. My now ex-husband worked in the computer lab.

Flight 212 originated in Charleston, SC, landed briefly in Charlotte, NC, and continued to O’Hare in Chicago. Usually a number of passengers disembarked in Charlotte and made connections to destinations other than Chicago.

I remember that morning in September as if it were yesterday. Ironically, the crash occurred on September 11, in 1974. It was a foggy morning. Poor visibility. I remember a loud boom and a bit of a tremor. I wondered, “What on earth was that?” It was a few minutes later, in my car, when I heard the news on the radio. All I could think was, “No, no, no, no, no!”

Then, I couldn’t help asking myself, “Did I book any of those people on that flight?” Fortunately, I don’t know the answer to that question. Flight 212 was a busy and popular flight. Most reservations agents had booked someone at some time on 212. Best not to dwell on it.

The flight left Charleston with seventy-four people on board. Initially there were thirteen survivors. Later three of those thirteen died of severe burns. A co-pilot and a flight attendant were among the final ten survivors.

For days, then weeks, airline employees and others sifted through the sad traces of human life cut short. Some worked the morgue.

I write this piece to honor those workers. My husband was one of them. He worked tirelessly and without complaint. I don’t know if I ever thanked him. I do so now. Thank you, JDM.

NTSB probable cause statement:

The flight crew’s lack of altitude awareness at critical points during the approach due to poor cockpit discipline in that the crew didn’t follow prescribed procedure.  Source: Wikipedia

What a sad, sad statement.

Remembering…

I woke up this morning with a vivid image of my ex in my head — the image of D the first time I saw him.  I don’t know where it came from or why I saw him so clearly in that form.  Did I dream of him?  I don’t recall a dream.

The Charlotte Airport.  August 13, 1972.  Eastern Airlines had hired both of us and we were heading to Miami for three weeks of training along with several other new employees from the area.  At the time, one of Eastern’s largest reservations facilities was located in Charlotte.

D caught my attention that day because he talked a lot — and he had a rather loud voice.  He provided a distraction as I tried not to worry about spending the next three weeks away from my three little daughters.  He kept trying to make jokes about Eddie Rickenbacker.  I had read Eddie’s memoir.  I didn’t think the “jokes” were funny.

D was more than six feet tall.  He was very, very skinny.  His blond-streaked hair was curly and cropped just short enough to gain him employment with the conservative corporate giant.  (I learned later that he had to get a haircut in order to be hired.)  I didn’t notice his beautiful blue eyes at the time, but I couldn’t miss his Yosemite Sam moustache.

My first impression?  Forgettable — a young college kid who talked too much because he was nervous about his new job.

The end…or maybe not.Photos from Wikipedia

Leaving on a jet plane.

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.  ~ Maya Angelou

Here’s to Peruvian friends, present and future!

I couldn’t resist this photo of an Eastern Airlines version of the Boeing 757 which I found on Wikipedia.  I know that Eastern is now defunct, but I have many fond memories of the company as I worked for them in my youthful working years before I became a teacher.  A  part of our journey will be on the 757 so it seemed appropriate to post a picture of it.

If you like, listen to the song written by John Denver and performed by Peter, Paul and Mary here.  I also have many fond memories of the music of John Denver and P, P and M.  If you’re my age you can sing along.  If you’re much younger than I, you can take a little musical-history journey through the Folk Era Hall of Fame.  🙂  Enjoy.

I hope to be able to post a photo from time to time while I’m gone.  I learned to do so by phone a few days ago, and I understand that many hotels in Peru have wi-fi.