Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Remembering Allegheny Flight 853

When I was at the Newberry Library in Chicago recently to talk about Collision Course, I had the good fortune of meeting David Sapadin, a controller who was fired from Cleveland Center in 1981 for participating in the strike, but who managed to get rehired using the appeals process of the Merit Systems Protection Board.  (As I point out in the book, only a very small select group of strikers were able to do this.)
   David is now retired from air traffic control.  But he continues to study its history.   He reminded me of an event that I did not write about in my book, but one that should not be forgotten.  It was the mid-air collision between Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 (a DC-9) and a single engine Piper PA-28 (tail number N7374J) over Indiana on September 9, 1969, resulting in 83 deaths.  (The debris field of this accident is pictured above.)  As a subsequent investigation showed, that event occurred in large part because the smaller plane failed to show up on controllers' radar.  This inadequate equipment was one of the chief concerns of the then recently-formed Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO).   David Sapadin studied that accident while a student at Ohio State in 1970 prior to his hiring at the FAA.  You can read the interesting paper he wrote back then discussing this event.  It is called "The Nightmare -- The MidAir" and you can find it here.   My great thanks to David.  If you'd like to get in touch with him, he can be reached at: dmsapadin@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment