My melancholy cloud has lifted.
Well, sort of.
I am loathe to indulge my "down" times.
I did once.
It damn near killed me.
Last night I purchased a couple of corned beef briskets and a head of cabbage. Neither corned beef, nor cabbage, is recognized as a theraputic treatment for depression.
*not two Prozac tablets*
Well, not so far as I know.
Regardless, my funk hadn't lifted by dinner time.
Instead of having the corned beef, I called in a pizza and large meatball/provolone sandwich to the Italian Kitchen and had Christine pick them up.
Pizza, especially Geno's, is comfort food by the slice.
The meatball sandwich was amazing.
I felt much better.
So today, it's corned beef and cabbage.
Unfortunately, just as I was feeling better, I read this article.
Outside of pilots and air traffic controllers, nobody can even fathom the horror of a "near miss" or "mid air collision".
I've walked through those fires of Hell.
It wasn't pretty.
I stopped a "mid air collision" on May 11, 2001 at roughly 9:15 am. The wreckage would have fallen on three casino/hotels in Tunica, Mississippi. There were 157 passengers and crew on the airplanes involved. One was a B-737 flying from DFW to Memphis, the other was a E145 regional jet flying from Memphis to Houston Intercontinental Airport.
The flaming wreckage would have killed (according to an expert's estimate) around 500 to 1,000 people on the ground.
That, by the way, was a conservative estimate.
How did this situation come to pass?
The controller woking the Delta jet gave his plane the wrong altitude.
He sure as Hell didn't mean to.
Dave was, and still is, a very competent air traffic controller.
I was pretty busy with a number of departures climbing out of Memphis International.
As I was scanning my radar screen, I was stunned to see an arrival at the same altitude as one of my departures.
I stood up, keyed my microphone and yelled, "CONTINENTAL EXPRESS TURN RIGHT HEADING THREE SIX ZERO IMMEDIATELY!!!".
For the record, I can yell really, really loud when necessary.
They didn't respond.
However, I observed them making the turn.
I also observed their radar target merge with the Delta aircraft.
At that moment everybody in the radar room thought the aircraft had hit.
I was in the process of trying not to pass out from trauma.
The controller next to me was crying.
Because of the hard turn I issued and the pilot's understanding of the tone of my voice, the planes missed each other.
The Continental pilot cranked the plane hard right in a move that surely stunned the passengers.
It was only then that the Delta crew "saw the Continental jet through the clouds".
The Delta pilots' words, not mine.
37/100th's of a mile, same altitude, at 500 nautical miles per hour.
It was a "swish/swish" at 7,000 feet.
I had nightmares for over two years after that.
I had the "pleasure" of reliving that moment almost every night.
Like I said, it damn near killed me.
I blamed myself for not seeing it sooner.
The level of depression was crushing.
Unfortunately that's just part of the job.
Some men and women go through their entire careers with nothing bad ever happening.
Others are witnesses to the most horrifying events you can imagine.
I'm sure the pilots of the two aircraft involved in the Hong Kong incident were shaking in their shoes during and after the event.
I'm sure the air traffic controllers involved were no less shaken.
Air traffic controllers value pilots' and passenger's lives above all else.
I never met one that didn't.
My heart goes out to those involved in the near miss yesterday.
I don't feel as bad as I did yesterday.
In fact, all things considered, I'm in a good place.
My mind is at peace.
Except for the folks involved with the near miss.
I know what they are going through.
If y'all have nothing else to pray for today, pray for the pilots and air traffic controllers involved, peace of mind.
Y'all can't fathom just how much they all need that today.
I, for one, am glad you can't.
Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.
Air Traffic Mike, ret.
I Know DKDC
4 weeks ago