Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


I Lost Another Two Colleagues

September 6, 1985

I lost another two colleagues in the crash of an airline jet that killed all crewmembers and all passengers. The two colleagues were formerly pilots of my company that went over to a startup airline for better career opportunities. I had flown with neither as a company crewmember. Danny M. was crewed on a different aircraft type at another base, and Bill W. had been a part-time FO for the company while I was still a FO. Although looking back through my logbook, I see that while Bill was still working for the local FBO as a CFI, I had flown with him to sign me off for a BFR.

I was temporarily at our Atlanta base to fill in as crew on their flights while a regular Atlanta base pilot was gone for some reason. We came back in from a scheduled flight and heard the news while deplaning. Such a thing casts a very somber mood on whatever follows. Especially as I was scheduled to return to home base that very evening on that very airline.

There isn't really that much of a story here, other than that this is an event that happens to a lot of professional pilots. This is why the aviation pros read and study the resulting NTSB accident reports, so as not to be the ones to repeat whatever pilot errors might have contributed to the accident. My opinion, knowing these pilots, and the facts of the accident, is that there were no pilot errors that were probable causes, regardless of whatever the NTSB might have concluded. Their normal default probable cause is always "pilot error" when the result of the investigation is really "we don't know." And that, I guess, is the consequence, and the burden, of FAR 91.3.



References for Non-Pilots: