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God is my copilot...but He's not type-rated
March 24, 2009 1:30 PM   Subscribe

We all admired Capt. Sullenberger's cold blood on the Hudson. His fellow pilot Chafik Garbi, however, placed in similar circumstances, performed rather less well.
posted by Skeptic (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
If you don't have brass gonads, you probably shouldn't be a pilot.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:37 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


16 people dead? Not only was he a bad pilot, he clearly couldn't pray worth a damn.

Also: Sicily Air Crash would make an awesome band name.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:39 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


God helps those who help themselves.

except at buffets
posted by GuyZero at 1:45 PM on March 24, 2009


Having lived in Italy before, I've flown more than my share of Alitalia flights. It used to annoy the hell out of me that passengers always applauded after the plane touched down. I would snark, "What are they applauding for? The plane is supposed to land safely, that's what pilots are paid for!" But now I understand.
posted by Curry at 1:49 PM on March 24, 2009


God helps those who help themselves.

except at buffets
posted by GuyZero at 1:45 PM on March 24 [+] [!]


I'm definitly turning (or returning) that into a joke:
Why are church suppers always buffet style? Because God helps those who help themselves.

Now I'm off to torment my co-workers...
posted by 445supermag at 1:52 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


''Never before in the history of aviation disasters has there been such a chain of events and counter-events.''

What's a counter-event? Something that counter-happens?
posted by The Tensor at 1:52 PM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Headline suggests he was Sullenbuger's co-pilot. C-
posted by Zambrano at 1:58 PM on March 24, 2009 [15 favorites]


I saw someone on TV ask Sully if he prayed before he ditched. He very politely said he didn't have time. I would have been less polite. "It was less than a minute from the time the birds hit the plane until I decided to land in the river. If I had stopped to pray, everyone would be dead."
posted by vibrotronica at 1:58 PM on March 24, 2009


And for all of you armchair pilots out there, there's now an iPhone app [iTunes link] from the creators of X-Plane that puts you in Sully's seat during that fateful flight.
posted by gyc at 2:05 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Headline suggests he was Sullenbuger's co-pilot. C-

At least I spelled Sully's name correctly. F

Anyway, if the moderators would like to edit the post by deleting "His fellow pilot", to avoid misunderstandings by inattentive readers, they'll be welcome.
posted by Skeptic at 2:15 PM on March 24, 2009


I'm sorry for the people who died because that pilot was a jackass. That said, I think this is a really thin and poor post.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2009




It used to annoy the hell out of me that passengers always applauded after the plane touched down. I would snark, "What are they applauding for? The plane is supposed to land safely, that's what pilots are paid for!" But now I understand.

What? How is this crash any different then crashes in the U.S?
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on March 24, 2009


Holy shit, Rhomboid. That story is messed up.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:30 PM on March 24, 2009


Very pertinent link.

Asked if he at any point prayed, he told Couric, “I would imagine somebody in back was taking care of that for me while I was flying the airplane.”

“My focus at that point was so intensely on the landing,” he said. “I thought of nothing else.”

posted by zardoz at 2:34 PM on March 24, 2009


Damn, Rhomboid, I thought that was a bad Michael Crichton novel.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:36 PM on March 24, 2009


Nothing fails like prayer!
posted by gurple at 2:39 PM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


He didn't pause so that he could pray he paused because he was panicked. Panicky pilots are bad but not newsworthy. Why does the fact that a prayer slipped out while he was neglecting his duties makes this newsworthy?
posted by brenton at 2:40 PM on March 24, 2009


Wait, I can top it: Gameel al Batouti, co-pilot of Egyptair flight 990, who prayed extra hard while nose-diving his 767 into the ocean, likely offing himself along with 217 others, including over 30 high-ranking Egyptian military officers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:42 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regardless of what you think of the power of prayer, I'm sure that taking off without enough fuel to complete the journey had a lot more to do with the crashing.

Hopefully the ground crew who installed the faulty fuel gauge were amongst the six others jailed.
posted by tapeguy at 2:48 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Panicky pilots are bad but not newsworthy.

Generally air crashes are always newsworthy.
posted by !Jim at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2009


Hopefully the ground crew who installed the faulty fuel gauge were amongst the six others jailed.

If, and only if, the procedures for fitting a fuel gauge involved extensive checking of its calibration. If this was not required then absolutely not, as they did nothing wrong. The gauge was faulty, not the installation (from the article's wording) and so I'd suggest the company that supplied the fuel gauge should be, though. Certified components are tightly controlled supposedly in order to ensure faulty components are eliminated from the supply chain well before leaving the factory, never mind getting on a plane. It is preposterous to blame the fitter for an incorrectly supplied component (much less hold them accountable) unless the correct procedure was not followed.

In aviation controls and procedures are in place to minimize risks. Just because something went wrong in the entire chain doesn't mean the poor schmo who actually connected it to the aeroplane was in any way at fault. You don't have enough information to make that wild, knee-jerk, suggestion.
posted by Brockles at 3:25 PM on March 24, 2009


I see your 16 dead because the pilot was busy praying and raise you 75 dead because the pilot let his 15 year old son into the cabin to play with the controls and unknowingly partially disengage the autopilot.

The moment I read that I figured it was Aeroflot, and was not disappointed...

I saw a fascinating documentary on Russian aviation a few years back where an ex-pilot revealed a secret apparently known to all Soviet-era pilots -- how to cheers each other with vodka without causing the sound of clinking glasses, which might cause alarm with the passengers.
posted by clevershark at 3:46 PM on March 24, 2009


(mind you I don't think the 15 year old would have done a very good job landing at Kai Tak anyway)
posted by clevershark at 3:47 PM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Prosecutors say that after both the plane's engines cut out, the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land in the Mediterranean instead of trying to reach the nearest airport.

You know, I've always been a little bit jaded about "hero" pilots because I think, well of course they're going to try their hardest to save the day… I mean, they don't want to die themselves, right?

When I read this shit it makes me realize, this is the problem with religion: it's too powerful a demotivator.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on March 24, 2009


He didn't pause so that he could pray he paused because he was panicked. Panicky pilots are bad but not newsworthy. Why does the fact that a prayer slipped out while he was neglecting his duties makes this newsworthy?

If he had time and presence-of-mind to pray, that's pretty bad that he did that instead of proper emergency procedures. This is assuming that "oh god oh god oh god" doesn't count as a "prayer," of course.
posted by explosion at 3:57 PM on March 24, 2009


He didn't pause so that he could pray he paused because he was panicked.

If I can turn this assertion into a question: had he not been religious, would he have made the bad decisions he did? Obviously there's no firm answer to be had, but I find it interesting to ponder.

I think I can say with some certainty, though, that praying while flying an aircraft is not a useful activity. Whether praying while being flown in an aircraft is useful is something on which I don't anticipate a very fruitful discussion...
posted by topynate at 4:08 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Geeez. Madness

Also: "cold blood" has entirely different connotations from sangfroid. Calques are tricky like that.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 4:19 PM on March 24, 2009


God helps those who help themselves.
According to whom?

I'll answer that question: According to Benjamin Franklin, in whose Poor Richard's Almanack this famous saying originated.

The Bible has quite a different opinion than Mr. Franklin (who, incidentally, was also quoted as saying that he found Christianity "unintelligible").
posted by Flunkie at 4:30 PM on March 24, 2009


I hope the Invisible Cloud Being thought he prayed hard enough...
posted by Chuffy at 4:34 PM on March 24, 2009


This reminds me of why I hate that Carrie Underwood song: no, you stupid cow, keep your damn hands ON the wheel, quit yammering at Jesus and drive.
posted by jamaro at 4:41 PM on March 24, 2009


I guess you'd prefer Chely Wright's, Shut Up and Drive?
posted by Atreides at 6:23 PM on March 24, 2009


If, and only if, the procedures for fitting a fuel gauge involved extensive checking of its calibration. If this was not required then absolutely not, as they did nothing wrong.

This is completely wrong - every replaceable component in an aircraft has a serial number and part number so that what happened - "[g]round crew had installed a fuel gauge designed for the ATR-42, which is similar to the ATR-72 but has smaller fuel tanks" - doesn't happen. Gigantic logbooks are kept with all of these parts so that you know when it was installed, where it was installed, and when it needs to be replaced.

As such, the Tuninter incident smacks of maintenance malpractice.
posted by squorch at 8:24 PM on March 24, 2009


Remind me of a joke.

As part of a political project aimed at forging greater ties between the US and Libya, the US sends one of it's star fighter pilots to spend time with the Libyan Air Force and help train Libyan pilots in some of the more sophisticated combat techniques.

When he goes for his fist flight, the US pilot notices that the old Soviet Migs that the Libyan Airforce use look a little worse for wear. He's assured that they fly fine but, when they're in the air, he is told that the ejector seats don't work.

"Don't work?!? what happens if there's an engine malfunction?" he asks.

"You must put your hands together and pray that Allah saves you" is the reply.

Sure enough, 5 minutes later, the left wing on the US pilot's plane breaks completely off, and he finds himself hurtling towards the ground. With nothing else that he can do, he starts praying to Allah:

"Allah, please save me. Allah, please save me."

The response is immediate. A huge hand appears from the sky, scoops the falling Mig, and places it safely on the ground.

The pilot can't believe it.

"Thank God for that!" he says.

The next second, a huge foot comes out of the sky and stomps on the plane, crushing it and the US pilot.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:05 PM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Where is you God, now?
posted by vivelame at 2:49 AM on March 25, 2009


Glad to see the Dark Ages alive and well in the 09
posted by The Salaryman at 6:42 AM on March 25, 2009


I am not sure that yelling out the Arabic equivalent of "Oh my god" or "Holy Shit" counts as prayer.
posted by OldReliable at 3:47 PM on March 25, 2009


I can understand panic and prayer. Letting your kid dick around in the cockpit? That's the guy who should go to jail.
posted by Amanojaku at 9:44 PM on March 25, 2009


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