This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 29, 2011 12:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was How a troubled life ended. The next post in this blog is 'Dog charities have their day. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

How the Burnside plane crash saved lives

Those of us who were around Portland at Christmastime in 1978 remember when a commercial jet airliner headed for a landing ran out of fuel and crashed on East Burnside at 158th. Ten people died, and 23 were seriously injured. One guy I knew at the time was on board; he walked away but never wanted to talk about it.

Anyway, that horrifying story has a bit of a happy ending, here.

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In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell offers insights regarding how cultural backgrounds affect a flight crew's ability to respond to emergencies and communicate effectively with the pilot. This travel blog has a good summary: http://www.worldhum.com/travel-blog/item/malcolm-gladwell-on-aviation-safety-and-security-20090125/

Why isn't this true for law as well? Why isn't there an NTSB Intensity investigation whenever we discover a wrongful conviction and whenever the police Kill another mentally Ill person?

Or are we only concerned with systemic improvements when white people of a Certain class are likely to be among the ones injured by mistAkes?

One of my friends from high school was on that fateful flight with her husband and young children. All children were ordered to the front of the plane to sit in the bulkhead seats. My friend's family refused to be split up, believing that if they were going to die, they wanted to die together. As it turned out, all the deaths were in the front of the plane.

That was my second year in Portland - I was driving back from refereeing a basketball game in Gresham, and took the surface streets instead of the freeway back home to inner NE Portland. There wasn't the instant news/messaging/traffic alerts back then, so when I hit roadblocks, I just detoured around, and it was some hours later that I found out what had happened. As I recall, a house was damaged/destroyed in the crash. And, yes, very lucky how few actually perished.

I just was reading a book which has stories of Oregon disasters in it and the 1978 crash was in there. One of the empty houses that the plane landed on has just been evicted two weeks before.

I was at the crash scene as a shooter for KGW TV at the time - it was amazing there were not more deaths/injuries than there were - it was horrific to see a big jet in the middle of a neighborhood. I'll never forget seeing those images that night or the morning Mt. St. Helen's blew.

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