Sound of impact
August 7, 2003 10:37 AM   Subscribe

That's it I'm dead. Collected transcripts (and some MP3s) of the last words spoken in the cockpits of doomed planes make for harrowing, and addictive reading/listening. Further examination of the site yields interesting statistics and more MP3s.
posted by thirteen (49 comments total)
This site features lurid video, and does not seem as respectful as the one I linked to in the thread start.
posted by thirteen at 10:40 AM on August 7, 2003

Airdisaster also has a great collection of CVR's (Cockpit Voice Recorders), Tower recordings, Videos of crashing planes, transcripts, and pictures. Great stuff for the aeronautically frightened.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:50 AM on August 7, 2003

Amy, I love you.

So sad. Wonder if anyone ever told "Amy" about it.
posted by orange swan at 10:50 AM on August 7, 2003

Actually, these conditions don't look very good at all, do they?
posted by goethean at 10:51 AM on August 7, 2003

So sad. Wonder if anyone ever told "Amy" about it.

that particular report says that 8 of the 29 people aboard died. Let's hope he told Amy about it himself.
posted by GeekAnimator at 10:58 AM on August 7, 2003

I didn't look too deeply at the link, but one of the saddest stories of blackbox recordings was from a flight a man took with his two young children. The final words heard on the recording were the inspiration for an Elvis Costello song. The title? "Daddy Can I Turn This?"
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:05 AM on August 7, 2003

While the subject matter is interesting and sad, I'm more interested in who the jackass is who programmed the page. Why on earth would you disable the right-click function on your links? I want to read the story in a new browser window you moron...what possible reason could you have to prevent me from doing that? And when I try to view the Source on the page in IE6, it won't let me do that either. Wtf? I thought web pages were supposed to be easy to use by those who want to view them, not piss people off enough to make them not want to come back.
posted by rrtek at 11:09 AM on August 7, 2003

just turn your javascript off and the problem will go away
posted by chrisroberts at 11:13 AM on August 7, 2003

The transcript that gets to me most is the Sioux City cornfield crash, where most of the people walked away. The pilot was amazing. Check out where he says "Whatever you do, keep us away from the city."
posted by GaelFC at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2003

Why on earth would you disable the right-click function on your links?

while I agree with you, and loathe it when people do that, I would imagine he did it to make it more difficult for someone to swipe the mp3s. Some things do not need to be sampled into some 15 year old's techno song.
posted by GeekAnimator at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2003

Matt Warmerdam said "Amy, I love you.". Looks like he survived.
posted by Akuinnen at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2003

I want to read the story in a new browser window you moron

Did you try shift-click?
posted by callmejay at 11:33 AM on August 7, 2003

It's not often that text alone can give me the chills, but that site did. I don't want to listen to the audio, thanks.
posted by tommasz at 11:37 AM on August 7, 2003

March 23, 1994: Perhaps Captain Yaroslav Kudrinsky, of Aeroflot flight SU593 from Moscow to Hong Kong, was a little too enthusiastic about Take Your Daughter To Work Day. A cockpit tape records his 13-year-old girl, Yana, saying "Daddy, can I turn this?" Then his 15-year-old son El'dar took over at the controls, and the trouble really started. Eagerly swivelling the control column, Junior disconnected the autopilot. The plane, still at full power, rolled over sideways and began to plummet at a dizzying 650 feet per second, while crew members shrieked instructions at the bewildered teenager and his father desperately tried to shift him out the seat. Kudrinsky at last levelled out at 1300 feet, too late to stop the Airbus A310 shattering against a Siberian hillside, killing all 75 aboard. Wrecking the old man's car is one thing. . .
original link
posted by lsd4all at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2003


I hate flying. Every time we bank I feel like we're going to fall out of the sky. I make a habit of listening to the ATC chatter on the headphones on United flights; it makes me feel a little more in control, because as long as I'm not hearing anyone go, "Mountains!!!" I'm probably OK.

At least, I keep telling myself that.
posted by hob at 11:48 AM on August 7, 2003

It's silly.. but I used to enjoy flying when I was younger. Now I can't stand it. Being up so high like that in a tin can. I've had several nightmares about it. I can't say that this thread has helped :)
posted by Akuinnen at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2003

The United Airlines 232 has got to be one of the most amazing feats of flying, most incredible examples of poise under pressure, and most fantastic coordination between the tower and the craft that I've ever read. This is why pilots deserve the respect they're given.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2003

09.01:11 CAM 2 Are we clear of that Cessna?
09.01:13 CAM- Suppose to be.
09.01:14 CAM 1 I guess.
09.01:20 CAM 4 I hope.
09.01:21 CAM-1 Oh yeah, before we turned downwind, I saw him about one o'clock, probably behind us now.
09.01:38 CAM-2 There's one underneath.
09.01:39 CAM 2 I was looking at that inbound there.
09.01:45 CAM 1 Whoop!
09.01:46 CAM 2 Aghhh!
09.01:47 CAM Sound of impact
09.01:48 CAM 1 On shit!

Wow cool stuff, I don't think I'll ever fly again
posted by carfilhiot at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2003

I wanted to hate this post, and to hate thirteen for posting it, but after having browsed the site — and especially after having read the entire Sioux City story — all I can say is "wow". Disconcerting, yes, but also inspirational. Thanks, thirteen.
posted by jdroth at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2003

I hate flying, too, ever since September 20, 1989. I heard about the crash on the morning news. "What a miracle, only two dead." A few hours later, at work, I got a call from my dad, who told me my Aunt Ayles and cousin Betsy were the two. airdisaster has the accident report: "Two passengers in seats 21A and 21B died of mechanical asphyxiation (suffocation from being crushed and unable to breathe)."

posted by MrMoonPie at 12:24 PM on August 7, 2003

Particularly incredible quote from UA232:

[After losing all three hydraulic systems, and backups]: And as a result, we had no ailerons to bank the airplane, we had no rudder to turn it it, no elevators to control the pitch, we had no leading-edge flaps or slats to slow the airplane down, no trailing-edge flaps for landing, we had no spoilers on the wing, to help us get down, or help us slow down, once we were on the ground. And on the ground, we had no steering, nose wheel or tail, and no brakes.

Holy sucking fhit!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2003

*laughing sigh* I clicked on the September 20, 1989 link and also listed on that page is an advert for low airfares to Chicago.
posted by lsd4all at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2003

MrMoonPie - my condolences, man.
posted by notsnot at 1:01 PM on August 7, 2003

Reminds me of an art installation at Burning Man 2001:

Someone recreated the fuselage of a plane, and inserted it into the ground at an angle. The nose of the plane was broken apart, with gas-powered flames shooting out of it. Via a side door, you could enter the fuselage and sit inside the plane. It had real airliner seats arranged in rows, and an instrument panel set up at the front like a cockpit. Everything about the interior was designed to resemble the experience of being in a plane going down. Giant fans shot wind back through the cabin, flapping around a bunch of torn seat upholstery, hanging wires and oxygen masks. Strobe lights flickered on a random pattern. A recording of what sounded like a CVR was playing underneath the racket of the wind and a deafening radio static. You couldn't quite make out the words byt you could hear the panic in the voice.

All you had to do was sit in there for about 5 seconds to become totally freaked out.

This was about a week before Sept 11, 2001. I don't think that installation will be coming back to the Playa any time soon.
posted by scarabic at 1:29 PM on August 7, 2003

These transcripts show how little margin of error there is once something goes bad how quickly they go bad. At least for a hobby boating is more forgiving.
posted by stbalbach at 1:48 PM on August 7, 2003

Just in case there is any question, I did not post these for any sensational reason. I am so impressed by how brave some of the people sound, and very touched by the earnest way some people meet their end when they had no clue it was coming .

I know of one transcript, that I do not believe is among these where the final moment goes like this:

NCA 458 CAPTAIN: You got nine seventy-one on 'er?

NCA 458 FIRST OFFICER: You got it all, Dad! We're gonna hit!


I have read that last line as many ways as I can think to, and it breaks me into little pieces. I admire him so much.

I hope we all live forever.
posted by thirteen at 2:12 PM on August 7, 2003

For more on the Sioux City crash, this page has a couple of short video links (about halfway down). The quality is quite poor, but you can see the plane cartwheel on landing. I wouldn't normally link to such a thing, but the footage is not gratuitous, and you come away thinking: how in the hell did two-thirds of the people on that plane survive? After reading the transcript, you could not tell by the way that the plane descends that it is in any sort of trouble, which speaks volumes about the quality of the pilots.
posted by humuhumu at 2:15 PM on August 7, 2003

The Japan Air 123 recording is probably the most chilling of them all. After the plane hits the first mountain, you can still hear the automated recording yelling "Pull up! Pull up!" until the plane hits the second mountain and the recording ends.
posted by punishinglemur at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2003

Caution, may be disturbing

Quite possibly the first appropriate use of the blink tag I've seen.
posted by 4easypayments at 3:57 PM on August 7, 2003

humuhumu: thanks for the link to the Sioux City crash footage; that's amazing. One of my childhood heroes, US Equestrian Team rider Michael Matz, was on that plane. He survived the crash and rescued a couple of kids from the burning wreckage. You're right: I keep watching it and wondering how anyone survived.
posted by swerve at 4:03 PM on August 7, 2003

It's funny that in the list of top 20 worst disasters the entry below gets such a brief description.

There was a BBC documentary a while back on this incident. Funnily enough the day this happened a film crew was on board filming a typical day in the life of a sailor type documentary and got footage of everything that happened.

Basically, the reason these people died was because the US Navy captain thought he was on the set of a hollywood movie.


290 fatalities - July 3, 1988 - Persian Gulf - Iran Air
Date: 07/03/1988
Time: c 10:30
Location: Persian Gulf
Airline: Iran Air
Flight #: 655
AC Type: Airbus A300B2-202
Registration: EP-IBU
cn/ln: 186
Aboard: 290
Fatalities: 290
Ground: 0
Details: Shot down by the U.S. Navy vessel U.S.S. Vincennes with a surface-to-air missile
posted by carfilhiot at 4:19 PM on August 7, 2003

wow, re: lsd4all's link'd story - here's the accident.

In the end the co-pilot initiated a 4.8g pull-up and nearly regained a stable flight path...
posted by Nauip at 4:32 PM on August 7, 2003

My boyfriend is terrified of flying, and has to be heavily sedated not to spend the whole trip in a deathly panic. If I had a dollar for every time I've held his sweating palm as he winced over every sound and tiny bit of turbulance, we could buy our own molecular transporter. I've always reassured him that it would be fine, but gads. Reading that website makes me wonder if he's the smarter one.
posted by arielmeadow at 4:57 PM on August 7, 2003

Oh, and here are some photos of the Burning Man installation ("Play Plane Crash") mentioned by scarabic.
posted by arielmeadow at 5:02 PM on August 7, 2003

The audio from the 2000 Alaska Air crash was the one that affected me the most. The other pilots in the air reporting as the plane went down.. you'd have to be a stronger person than I to see something like that mid-flight and still stoically carry on to your destination. (Personally, I only fly thanks to the miracle of Xanax.) Fascinating and touching link, thirteen.
posted by jess at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2003 has some pretty good clips of the UA232 cartwheeling. The thing is, even though it looks like it's completely engulfed in flames, and it's moving in a manner no airplane should ever move in, the fact that it was cartwheeling actually absorbed much of the impact and (at least according to the pilot) probably saved more lives.

It does look pretty awful, though. For the record, the greatest single plane fatality involved a plane flying into Mt. Fuji. While 520 people died, 4 did survive, which is pretty incredible. The largest air disaster ever was a two plane collision (two 747's). Interesting trivia: one of the planes involved was the Clipper Victor -- the first 747 ever. The worst part about the whole thing is that one plane was still on the ground, the other just taking off. Just goes to show, it doesn't really matter if you're 10 feet above the ground or 35,000 -- you're still toast.

And speaking of toast, the worst air disaster, IMHO, is the 1980 Saudi Arabian Air 163, which had an onboard fire, safely landed, but didn't evacuate the plane immediately. The pilots tried to taxi the damned thing instead of openning the doors -- in the end it took something like 27 minutes for the doors to be opened from touchdown, and 301 people (everyone) died of smoke inhalation or fire. Crazy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:27 PM on August 7, 2003

My boyfriend is terrified of flying, and has to be heavily sedated not to spend the whole trip in a deathly panic.

see, i totally bypass the whole sedation thing and just refuse to fly. period. yes, i know the statistics (just as i know the health statistics of smoking, yet i continue), but there are certain fears and addictions that disregard all reason.

great link, btw, thirteen. i've always been morbidly curious about unexpected death and the final moments in one's life.
posted by poopy at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2003

"we gave them 200 survivors to start with, instead of 150 [that they had trained for]" -pilot from the Sioux City crash

I find this very touching- these pilots indeed gave them 200 lives. And at the same time it shows how much PTSD can warp the mind that this man feels guilt from the crash.
posted by loafingcactus at 6:44 PM on August 7, 2003

For the record, the greatest single plane fatality involved a plane flying into Mt. Fuji.

I remember reading about this in Time magazine shortly after the crash. Apparently they'd been in serious distress some 20 minutes before impact, and many of the passengers wrote some last words, which were found in the wreckage. One man had written to his son, telling him to grow up and be wise, another man had written to his wife, saying he loved her, and one cocktail napkin had "no no no" scrawled all over it.

Totally gut-wrenching stuff.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:18 PM on August 7, 2003

Thirteen, thanks for this post. I am, like many people I suppose, completely terrified by the idea of dying in a air accident. I know it's not a rational fear, but every year I have to fly (I live in NYC, my parents in California) and each year it just seems to get worse.

I remember back in 1995 or 1996, the Discovery channel (or it could have been The Learning channel) had a week-long documentary about air disasters that featured quite a bit of information about the Sioux City crash, and it was really inspirational. Did anyone happen to see this special? I've been searching for DVDs of the show for the last few years and haven't been able to find it. Watching it (sort of ironically, I guess) helped me feel a lot better about flying.

But the thing that has helped me the most, the last time I had to fly I talked to my doctor about it and she gave me a small prescription for Valium. I highly recommend this for anyone who's as terrified of flying as I have been. It really, really helps!
posted by slackdog at 10:03 PM on August 7, 2003

One of the hardest things I've had to deal with came from the Lockerbie crash, where two young women were found sitting side-by-side in a section of seats, their arms wrapped tightly around each other and their fingers crossed.
posted by alumshubby at 11:13 PM on August 7, 2003

And however many times I see it, the video or photos of the planes going into the World Trade Centre makes me stop in complete shock. The way that second plane just disappears into the building, followed by the enormous fireball...
posted by humuhumu at 1:45 AM on August 8, 2003

For the record, the greatest single plane fatality involved a plane flying into Mt. Fuji.

One of my distant relatives, my mother's cousin, perished in this incident. I still get shivers reading about that one.

One of my Latin teachers was lost in the Lockerbie bombing.

I still fly a lot and while I dont relish it, I am happy to do it to get where I want to when I want to.
posted by gen at 3:36 AM on August 8, 2003

carfilhiot, that makes me sick too. The US destroyer was in Iranian waters, and the Iranian airliner was in Iranian air space, yet after shooting it down the US military/government didn't even have the decency to apologize to the families of the victims let alone the government of Iran. They blamed the pilot of the airliner, and also insinuated that the Iranian government had devised the whole thing in order to make the US look bad.

Incidentally, Noam Chomsky (among others) believes the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie was ordered by Iran (not Libya) in retaliation for the downing of the Iranian jet earlier that year, although there isn't any solid evidence to support this.
posted by Devils Slide at 4:34 AM on August 8, 2003

September 11 is the second worse day to fly accident wise.

Date No. of Accidents (1950-2002)
December 22 17
September 11 15
September 3 14
October 2 14
November 23 14
August 12 13
December 8 13
August 29 12
December 7 12
December 21 12
posted by stbalbach at 7:44 AM on August 8, 2003

Devil's Slide, do you realize that the US payed the family of each Iranian victim $300,000 per wage earning victim, $150,000 per non wage earner?
posted by NortonDC at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2003

Yes, I had heard they were paid something, but I didn't know the exact figure. I suppose the settlement does show an iota of regret (without offering an official apology), if that's what you're implying.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:13 AM on August 9, 2003

Reminds me of an art installation at Burning Man 2001

There was also a theatre piece at the new york Fringe festival a few years ago, where the set was the cockpit of an airplane and they recreated last moments and close calls from blackbox recordings. It was pretty gut wrenching too.

I'm not especially afraid of flying but I have thought about my last moments more often on a plane than other places, I guess just because you have so little control, and if things do go wrong, almost no hope of survival. You're more likely to die in a car crash, but you feel like you or someone you trust is in charge (usually / hopefully), and if you crash you still might be okay. Not that I haven't been freaked out here and there in a car under sub-optimal conditions...
posted by mdn at 9:34 AM on August 9, 2003

It's actions, not words, Devils Slide. I'll take that trade-off just about any day.
posted by NortonDC at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2003

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