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The Air France Crash Should Raise the Question: "Who's Looking out for us up There?"


On March 7, 2004, I was on board a flight to Norfolk, Virginia which attempted to land when all other aircraft had fled the area due to a hurricane watch and severe crosswinds during a black thunderstorm we could see below us. We ran into wind sheer during each of two failed landing attempts -- one at an air force base nearby -- and were, in the pilot's words, "blown out to sea." Cockpit recordings I obtained later show that the pilot entered the wind sheer warning area despite lightning strikes "everywhere," had no required backup plan and by the time of our third attempted landing, hadn't enough fuel to go further.

No one, including the crew, thought we would live, but we were "lucky." Luck shouldn't play a role. However, Federal Aviation Administration complaints fell on deaf ears and Northwest Airlines simply assured us all that its pilots were well trained and that safety was their number one concern.

When I was about 4 years old, we flew from England to a little island. It was my first flight and I said, quite loudly, "Will we get to see God?" I am told that passengers visibly paled. There are pilots out there who are rushing home, who feel immortal, who make me feel that my question may be proper to ask on flights headed into bad weather, and that isn't very comforting.