August 21, 1995
CARROLLTON, Ga. (CNN) -- Survivors reported that take- off began well
enough, but the smooth ride ended abruptly minutes later when a commuter
plane crashed into a Georgia hayfield Monday.
Two people died at the scene and a third died later in a Chattanooga,
Tenn., hospital. Twenty-six were in the crash of an Atlanta Southeast
Airlines plane near Georgia's border with Alabama. Flight 7529 was en
route from Atlanta, Georgia to Gulfport, Mississippi when it went down.
(298k aiff sound file)
The plane was apparently attempting to land at West Georgia Regional
Airport after the pilot reported engine trouble, the FAA said.
The plane broke up into four sections, with the passenger compartment
in cinders. It crashed into a field 50 yards away from the home of Paul
Butler, who told CNN he was reading at the time and heard two booms, but
said the last thing he expected to find was a plane crash.
He said he went outside and saw fires and people running-- some of
them in flames.
Scott Eason, who was near the field where the plane crashed, said a
flight attendant told him that "we lost an engine." Eason said he and a
friend arrived on the scene to see passengers milling around. Injuries
ranged from minor cuts to "several people who were badly burned."
(315k aiff sound file)
Eason said the middle of the plane was destroyed and both the front
and the tail were on fire when fire crews from Carollton arrived.
Two people, including the pilot, died on the scene. A third victim,
69-year-old Lucille Burton, died at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.
She had suffered burns over 100 percent of her body in the crash. Two
other crash victims are listed in extremely critical condition in the
Erlanger burn unit.
Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton said it had received 15 of the
injured. Another 11 were carried to nearby Bowdon Area Hospital where
nine of those were considered in stable condition.
ASA flight 7529 was carrying 26 passengers and a crew of three., said
Christy Williams of the FAA. The plane was a twin-engine Brazilian-made
Embraer 120 aircraft with one empty seat.
ASA has had two other fatal plane crashes in its history, both
involving the Embraer 120 model--including an April 5, 1991 crash in
Brunswick, Ga., that left 23 dead, including ex-Sen. John Tower, shortly
after he was forced to withdraw as President Bush's choice to be defense
In that crash, a propeller malfunction caused the crew to lose
control of the aircraft, FAA records show.
The Embraer 120 also has been involved in two other fatal accidents
-- a Sept. 11, 1991 crash of a Continental Express in Eagle Lake, Texas,
that killed 14, and an April 9, 1990 crash in Gadsden, Ala.. in which
two of the nine passengers on the ASA flight were killed.
FAA records showed the plane involved in Monday's crash had no
history of accidents or violations.
The craft took off from Atlanta at 12:28 p.m. for an hour and 35
minute flight to Gulfport. Controllers said they lost radar contact at
12:45 p.m. shortly after the pilot reported engine trouble. The wreckage
was located at 1:10 p.m.
An investigation team from the National Transportation Safety Board
is on its way to the site.
ASA is a private company that provides a connector service for Delta
Posted on Tuesday, November 02 @ 08:42:04
God, Please Let Me Die Quickly!
All passengers for Flight #7529 to Gulfport should now board the
aircraft.” I had arrived early at the Atlanta airport, so the
announcement was a welcomed sign that my routine business trip
would soon be underway. I found my seat and settled in for a
peaceful reading of the sports page. After takeoff, the pleasant
gentleman next to me dozed off. We were on our way to Gulfport,
But the peaceful part of that day -- Aug. 21, 1995 -- ended 15
minutes later with a loud explosion -- blam! The commuter plane
veered to the left and dipped sharply. Seconds later, the
captain leveled out the fall, but I noticed passengers looking
out the left side of the aircraft. Then I looked: The housing
was ripped from the engine and fluid was pouring from it onto
the wing. It was clear we had not stopped falling.
I gripped the seat back and glanced over to take one last peek
out the window next to me. All I could see, as we plummeted
through the thick clouds, were the treetops coming ever closer.
Just moments before, I had been thinking of my two beautiful
twin girls and two handsome sons, I had remembered every precise
detail of their smiling faces. I was so proud of them. Now I
realized I may not ever see them or my wife on this earth again.
The sense of loss I was already feeling nearly overwhelmed me.
How could my kids grow up without me? Would my wife, Beverly, be
strong enough to raise four precocious children on her own?
Would my young family always remember how much I loved them?
The flight attendant’s calm voice snatched my attention. She
seemed a little too calm, and it worried me. One final
announcement to the 26 terrified people on board: “Everyone just
hang with us, this is liable to get a little rough.” I turned my
eyes straight ahead, determined not to look out the window
again. Time for one last prayer: “I’m ready to come home, Lord.
Please let me die quickly, without much pain.”
An instant later, I felt the plane’s left wing touch the ground
and snap off. A woman screamed from the front of the cabin. The
second time the plane touched, it landed with a jolt. For a
moment the only sound I heard was the tearing of metal, the
impact and the drag wrenching the plane as we slid along the
The aircraft rolled to an abrupt stop, with the left side facing
up and my window flush against the hard ground. People, seats
and luggage from the left side suddenly fell with force on top
of me and everyone else who had been seated on the right side of
the plane. I would later learn the excruciating pain I was
feeling was from two broken ribs and a separated shoulder.
I looked up and spotted a large hole in the fuselage. I could
see a fire raging at the mouth of the jagged opening.
My first instinct was to escape quickly, but I couldn’t. The
crash position we had been instructed to assume required that I
place my hands on top of the seat in front of me. The weight of
the people and debris pinned my arms there and prevented me from
releasing my seat belt, trapping me in the burning plane.
I was alive, but I was furious with God. “How could You do this
to me? How could You allow me to survive the crash, only to die
in the fire? I’m supposed to be dead now!” My thoughts raced as
I frantically tried to free myself. It was the only moment of my
entire life that I had experienced this kind of intense fear.
The church-kid-turned-adult who had never really known hunger,
pain or loneliness was about to learn what it meant to trust
Somehow, in the 10-second eternity it required for me to reach
and release my seat belt, the people on top of me had scrambled
free. Disoriented, I stood to my feet and moved forward, walking
on what had been overhead baggage compartments. There was no
screaming, no pushing or shoving; just a monstrous sense of
urgency as we all filed toward the opening.
Then I heard the voice of a man overhead crying out, “I can’t
get out of my seat belt, somebody help me!” Another determined
and forceful voice behind me said: “Will somebody please help
that man! For God’s sake, somebody help him!” In my daze, I had
not even noticed the man still imprisoned in his seat, suspended
from what had become the ceiling of the airplane. I reached up
and hastily flipped open the latch on his taut seat belt,
causing him to fall straight down. When I turned again toward
the opening, I saw three or four people between me and the
outside -- all standing motionless. Then I saw why. The massive
crack in the fuselage had become immersed in fire and smoke, and
we couldn’t see past the furious flames.
“God, there must be another way out!” wailed the thoughts inside
my foggy head. I spun around to the rear of the broken plane and
saw that everyone behind me was facing forward. I knew if
another life-saving exit was accessible, people would be using
As I turned back to the opening, we all shouted in unison: “You
have to do it! You have to go through the fire! Go, go, go!”
Knowing we had no other option, everyone began to leap through
the fire, until it was my turn. I leapt through the fire too,
but I don’t remember it. All I remember is hitting the ground
outside the plane and somersaulting to my feet.
I stood up and looked around to see grass on fire for 50 to 100
feet in every direction. I was surrounded by seven or eight
people running or laying on the ground, all of them on fire.
Every person and every thing that I could see at that moment was
fully engulfed in flames -- except me.
At the time, I didn’t realize the plane’s nearly full load of
fuel had spilled all over the ground right at the place where we
escaped. When the passengers jumped into the fuel and the fire,
their clothes ignited like torches.
Not knowing what else to do, I yelled at two people to roll on
the ground. This didn’t help even slightly so I pulled off their
flaming clothes. One man’s socks were consumed with the bright
red blaze even after his pants were removed. I used my bare hand
to put out the fire.
“Get away from the plane! Get as far away from the plane as you
can!” called out the flight attendant, still in control. She was
cradling her arm and had suffered other injuries, but she still
felt a sense of duty to warn the stunned passengers of an
Feeling helpless to battle this fiery adversary, I decided to
heed the flight attendant’s advice. I grabbed hold of my right
arm to carry it with me. By this time, my shoulder separation
had caused it to feel like little more than dead weight. I
turned and walked away, tears in my eyes, as I listened to the
desperate cries for help as they faded behind me.
The plane crashed near Bowdon, Georgia -- only 75 miles from my
house. My family and friends were able to visit me in the
hospital within hours.
I still think about what could have been. Rarely does an hour go
by that my thoughts do not turn to the crash. I frequently
relive the moments after the plane began to break apart, feeling
the same terror coursing through my body as I did on that August
afternoon. I believe that my experience was similar to the
apostle Paul’s when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:9: “Indeed, in
our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that
we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
Why did God allow me to have this experience? I had always
considered myself to be self-sufficient, never depending on
others for things I could do myself. My career has been fairly
successful, and my needs have always been met. And I had become
complacent about the need for God’s power in my life. I
certainly knew He was there, and I prayed and sought God as
often as most anyone I knew. But before the accident, I had no
idea what it meant to truly trust in God.
Now I realize how often my family is far away from my
protection. I can’t always be with my sons as they encounter
bullies and drug dealers in school and on the street. It’s
impossible for me to be with my precious daughters every minute
as they grow up and face the dangers of life. The plane crash
helped me see that God is always with them, and I can trust Him
to take care of things out of my control. I’m ashamed to say
that -- before the crash -- my children had never seen their
father on his knees before the Lord, praying for guidance and
Few people have witnessed God’s awesome mercy as I have. There
is no doubt in my mind that I should have died a painful death
in a fiery plane crash. I could not control, or prepare for, the
events that happened that day. In my weakness, I could do
nothing. But God stretched out His hand to me, covering me in
the hour I needed Him most. I now trust Him completely with my
family. He knows what is best -- and that is fine with me.
The Power of
By Susan C. Friedenberg
June 19 to 20, NBAA held its 3rd Annual Flight Attendants
Conference, which was attended by approximately 115 women and
men from the United States and Europe. Attendees at that
Conference learned that flight attendants who are trained
properly for both emergency and first-aid situations have
tremendous power and responsibility as third crewmembers for
I am quite certain that if a pilot were given the option to
share his cockpit with a non-type rated pilot with no experience
on that type aircraft, he would certainly decline. The same
standards in choosing a flight attendant should apply. Any
flight attendant who is not properly trained should not be on an
airplane. The following story clearly demonstrates the value of
emergency and first-aid training.
On August 21,
1995, Robin Fech, a flight attendant for Atlantic Southeast
Airlines, reported for work. The three-person crew onboard
Flight 7529, an Embraer 120, took off out of Atlanta, GA, for
Gulfport, MS, with 26 passengers onboard.
we flight attendants always have in the back of our minds the
knowledge that anything could happen at any time. Flight
attendants who have the proper emergency training are prepared
for a variety of scenarios. For instance, if they are
emergency-trained third crewmembers, they are well versed in a
variety of taxi, takeoff, inflight, approach and landing
scenarios. And if they are well-trained third crewmembers, they
are at all times conscious of any irregular smells and sounds
onboard the aircraft. During takeoff and landing, well-trained
third crewmembers methodically make a mental review of
coordinated procedures to follow in tandem with the cockpit crew
in the event of an emergency situation.
particular day, the aircraft took off and climbed to 18,000
feet. Robin had commenced a beverage service and her forward
galley was occupied with loose service items. Suddenly the
aircraft shuddered and shook violently, followed by an
explosion. Without hesitation, Robin immediately invoked her
emergency training procedures. She secured herself as the
aircraft dropped approximately 9,000 feet.
One of the right
engine propeller blades snapped off and went into the engine
cowling, which caused a fire and the engine to peel like an
onion. Later they would find only 16 inches of the missing
five-foot propeller blade remaining, attached to the hub on the
stowing items in the galley and the cabin, briefing her
passengers and managing their panic. For a long three minutes
there was no communication or signals from the cockpit because
they were literally fighting to gain control of the airplane. At
approximately 11,500 feet the cockpit signaled and alerted Robin
to the fact that they were attempting to make an emergency
landing in Atlanta, GA.
As the plane
rocked, rolled and continuously lost altitude, Robin repeatedly
demonstrated the brace position, checked seat belts,
repositioned able-bodied passengers, briefed passengers on the
location and operation of all the exits, and managed passenger
panic for six-and-a-half long minutes. She never stopped
utilizing her time to brief and rebrief her passengers.
They never made
it to the Atlanta airport, but instead crash-landed in an open
field after shearing through tree tops in Carrolton, GA. Robin
was knocked unconscious on impact and she awoke to the sounds of
a roaring fire, breaking metal, and small explosions all around
her. She found herself completely turned around in her jump seat
and engulfed in dense black smoke.
cracked ribs and a broken collarbone and arm, Robin found
herself trapped and unable to see into the cabin. She heard
passengers screaming and moaning outside of what was left of the
fuselage. Robin made her way out of the burning aircraft through
smoke and fire and found some passengers still alive and in
shock. She performed first aid and used parts of her own
clothing on passengers who were on fire. She then directed her
attention to the cockpit area. The captain died on impact but
the first officer was still alive and trapped in the burning
cockpit. His hands were severely burned and he was making a
futile attempt to chip his way out of the cockpit with a crash
ax. She personally directed his rescue with the help of a
surviving passenger. She heroically saved the lives of 17
passengers and her second-in-command.
At the time of
this crash, Robin had been a flight attendant for two-and-a-half
years. She had attended one initial emergency and first aid
training class and two recurrent training classes. The surviving
passengers were grateful for her knowledge; passenger Bryon
Gaskill asserted, “I can’t imagine anybody being more purposeful
in doing her job.” And passenger U.S. Air Force Major Chuck
LeMay recounted, “Because of her, folks inside the cabin
remained calm. No one was screaming. . . We did not panic. Robin
behaved like a drill sergeant.”
As a manager
within a flight department you clearly have a choice. You can
hire a third crewmember for full time or contract services
either with or without emergency training. Try and envision the
above scenario without a properly trained third crewmember; the
life that might be saved could be your own.