Saturday, May 5, 2012

Flight Data Recorders are Where You Find Them

A very tragic story is unfolding in British Columbia surrounding a hang glider accident that resulted in a young woman falling to her death instead of enjoying an adventure gift purchased by her boy friend. Apparently included in the package was video an pictures documenting the flight. As I have previously written about a Vans RV 7 in flight break up, video or pictures recorded during a flight are a valuable resource to accident investigators, and proves to be surprisingly durable. In a strange twist, the pilot of the ill-fated hang gliding flight apparently thought there was something on the video record that he did not want to come to light. It has been reported that he swallowed the data card containing the video, resulting in a charge of obstructing justice.

When considering the cause and responsibility for an accident it is important to try to remain impartial and detached until all the facts are in. We will have to see if the data card survived the trip through the pilot's digestive system, experts are confident it has. Then we will have to see what evidence, if any, is in the data. However, the fact that the pilot took the rather extreme measure of trying to destroy the card by swallowing it is telling. It is certainly one of the stranger stories about flight data recovery that I have ever heard.

My condolences to the friends and family of Lenami Godinez. To lose someone during what should have been an enjoyable adventure to what certainly looks like a preventable accident affects everyone in aviation.

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