Commercial, Public Service

1,000 Words

By Staff Writer | June 1, 2010

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This column usually runs just shy of that mark. I tend to agree with that sentiment and am occasionally chided for my quiet nature, although there are some out there that won’t believe that. But there are some things that just beg for discussion, although this will not be a thousand words.

Last month in this spot I wrote about the EMS crash in March in Brownsville, Tenn. I’m not going to say a lot more about that senseless, preventable loss, but wanted to share this image with you. This radar image shows the conditions that existed at the time of that accident. As you may recall from my last Editor’s Note, the operator had dropped off a patient at a hospital and was hoping to get home ahead of a line of thunderstorms.

I am baffled when I look at this image—baffled because I can’t imagine that the pilot looked at this weather image, although it must have been available somewhere. How could he have seen this and thought he could beat that storm in? What was he thinking?


I know, I know... it’s easy to be an armchair pilot, sitting in an office, thinking things through. But part of the chain of events leading to this accident must be the lack of a thorough weather briefing. One look at this line would have let anyone know that waiting was the best—really the only—option. If you recall, the medical crew on board called moments before the crash and said they were seven minutes out. Their base was just on the other side of that line. Do you see the tiny white box in the middle of the line? That indicates the crash site.

Receive the latest rotorcraft news right to your inbox