Today, Belvis de la Jara joined the exclusive but larger than it should be club of places, like Lockerbie or New Delhi, who were quite happy to mind their own business – until an airplane fell on top of them. DA6, one of the very few operational Eurofighter planes, crashed. Specifically, both engines appear to have failed simultaneously – what Bob Shaw, in his pre-SF writing aviation industry PR days, would have been told to describe as “developing negative lift”. The pilots managed to glide the plane away from massively populated areas and ejected to safety (the first garbled reports I heard, about half an hour after it happened, was that they had jumped out).
The only good thing to come out of the whole business was the lack of casualties. No one who was at Ramstein in 1988 will ever forget the moments after the three Frecci Tricolori fighter jets collided in mid air and one fell into the crowd. It wasn’t just the way everyone rushed off in all directions, then rushed back and got in the way of the rescue personnel: it wasn’t even the lack of first aid materials – the four first aid stations were very lightly equipped. Damn it, it wasn’t even the way people were shifted from one hospital to another in a desperate attempt to match the injured to the skilled resources. It was the charred bodies, which the firemen had to carry away, it was the inability to forget those sights and to find them invading dreams for months and years afterwards.
The 2002 Lviv Air Show would come a close second. It was a nice day: people were pressing up against both sides of the runway to see the Sukhoi SU-27 doing acrobatics. In hindsight, they were closer than would have been permitted anywhere else. And it should have been borne in mind that Ukranian pilots get about twenty hours flight time per year, as opposed to ten times that in NATO air flights and that the Ukrainian airforce was desperately short of spares. So what happened was the Sukhoi going up in a huge ball of flame and 66 people dying, including 19 children. They were just lying, sprawled, on the ground, cut down like grass, parts of their body scattered and random.
This piece isn’t going anywhere: it’s not intended to. I’m just sitting at the keyboard, numb with horror that the beautiful plane, whose photo sits next to the computer (thinks: most people have pictures of human loved ones, I have the planes) … that plane, photographed flying above some furry German bogs, which I look at every time I turn away from the screen, is lying in a thousand shards of jagged metal, being pored over by accident investigators. And I’m just sitting here, doing nothing useful, typing, staring, typing, staring, staring, staring, staring. Because I'm so sad and so angry that I can't think of anything more constructive to do.
posted by Dovya R @
10:42 PM : discuss