Friday, March 2, 2012

My job... not always fun....

It's been so long since I've posted..... I know, I know... SHAME ON ME!    And now here I am, with a not-so-happy entry. 

First of all, let me explain my job (only 4 month left!). Some of you know it, most of you don't.  In spite of being an American citizen, I managed to get a job at the regional German FAA! For the past 16 years, I have been an aviation inspector. My job is primarily inspection the airfields within my jurisdiction (24), checking heli ports or advising hospitals planing to build one, check pilots credentials, attend airshows and see if they are doing everything according to the permission my office gave them, etc. etc. The airfields are small general aviation ones, not the biggies like Frankfurt.

Most of the time it was fun and interesting. But once in a while it's not so great, like when there's a crash. And last night we had a big one!

It was night, there were fog patches, The airfield (largest general aviation airfield in all Germany) has no instrument approach system. The reasons are many, including it's proximity to Frankfurt, not to mention an autobahn (highway) west of the field and a high-speed train railway in the east, right close to the eastern threshold.

A Citation 750x was arriving from Linz, Austria, and decided to try to land.... but instead crashed into a forest just east of the field. Because of it's high speed, it exploded and practically disentigrated!

So today I went first to the airfield, talking to the manager, checked the calibration of the PAPI approach lights (they were ok), then went to the talk to the police helicopter pilots next door. After that I went with the police to the crash site to meet up and talk to the guys from our NTSB (called BFU here).

I didn't take any pictures of the bodies.... believe me, you would not want to see them. They were still lying on the ground, and there wasn't a single one that was in one piece. The smell of fuel was in the air and the ground was covered with lots of debrise, from aircraft pieces, to books, coffee cups and paper plates, even metal knives and forks. Some pieces hung in the trees. It had flown through the tree tops for about 700 m.

While I was there the guys from the BFU found the black box. Here a few pictures I took. Yes, it has an American registration, we have lots of American registered airplanes over here (often for burocratic reasons).

So, sorry for this negative entry. Those who know me for some time know that my entries are usually full of smilies and fun.... I prefer to entertain my readers. But I think I need to write this down for my own sanity....



  1. Yes, that was a bad one. I've been to crash sites before and they are not pretty. As you know, flying isn't statistically dangerous, but is VERY inforgiving of mistakes. Western FAA's (generically) have excellent safety records. You should be proud you're a part of such a worthwhile effort. You'll never know how many lives you SAVED, but I'm sure in 16 years there have been many. Take care, Dorrie.


  2. As it happens, I had JUST finished reading the two pages of pprune on this crash. It was said (in highly technical terms) that it was a crash that did NOT need to happen.


  3. I can fathom what that site must of looked like and I am very sorry that you had to see it. Those poor people and their families.

  4. Those are photos I would not want to take. Also, regardless of being statistically safe, I don't like flying at all.

  5. Just gazing at the photos, one gets a very haunted, unsettling feeling. I can't even imagine what going to the site & experiencing it w/ all senses could do to a person. You're a very strong person, Dorrie. Much stronger than I'd be under such circumstances.


  6. Wow, that's insane. There isn't much left of that aircraft. Seeing a lot of broken up, dead bodies must be something to deal with when you get home at night.

  7. I am also assuming you are Westwind on a particular forum?

  8. it was definitely a crash that could have been avoided. What exactly happened, we don't know yet.... if we ever know. My job will be to decide whether to apply restrictions to the airfield.

    Strong? ME? actually, I'm one of those peeps who cries in the movies, or when reading a book. In some situations I'm a real cry baby and very sensitive. But oddly, like the above crash (not my first) I seem to have no feelings at all.... really weird (professionalism??).

    Ben.... yes *wink*

  9. Yes, perhaps sort of like a fire fighter is - most of the time anyway - able to detach him/herself from the chaos and mayhem of any given event. My brother is a paramedic and apparently they learn ways to block or void out most of it - excepting when a kid is involved.

  10. Hi Westy...I'm back again...

    Love you,