By: Eduardo Valenciana
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flight Attendants are listed crewmembers on all manifests in the
airline industry worldwide. The term "crew member" is deceptive for
aviation experts hold little regard in the belief that an F/A has the
ability to comprehend the complex technical information that a cockpit
crewmember must have to navigate the aircraft safely. More so, in the
minds of the aviation industry, a F/A's maximum ability to aid in the
determination of a particular cause in airline crashes is limited to
that of an observer. F/A crewmembers are expected to relate
information valuable to the investigating experts who then can
decipher such information to help in the final determination. That is
Twenty one years after the experts walked away from Benito Juarez
Airport in Mexico City, accepting the final cause of the crash of
Western Airlines DC-10, Flight 2605, under the command of Captain
Charles Gilbert Sr., as "Error de Piloto," we will examine the truth.
As the surviving flight Attendant, I would like to set the record
straight once and for all. Why would the F/A of 2605 be qualified to
challenge the expert's decision? First, I was a witness to the events
that unfolded during and after the flight. Second, I have spent the
last twenty years educating myself in understanding the technical
problems involved in final determination. Third, I was raised on the
streets in the barrio in East Los Angeles. The "skills" I learned
there in surviving proved to be the best tool in allowing me to
complete such a journey alive and in one piece. Lastly, such "skills"
allowed me to obtain the documents and files, including the CVR
recording from 2605 that will back up my assessments. Eliminating the
belief that it's a captain's ship and here lies the final blame, let
us view all the facts. In my mind the cause should be "break down of
the airline system and it's back ups."
The investigation and final report on the incident was handled by La
oficina de el secraterio general de espacio areo mexicano. The
report, forced upon and accepted by the NTSB and Western Airlines is
in shambles and insulting to the intelligence of educated people. The
NTSB's contribution was to simply to loosely translate the sparse
document and accept it. One example of the Mexican agency's inept
documentation is in referring to one flight attendant who perished as
being alive and another who survivrd as being a casualty.
THE COCKPIT CREW & FELLOW PILOTS:
The flight was under the command of Captain Gilbert, F/O Ernest
Riechel and S/O Daniel Walsh, all respected aviators. Captain Gilbert
was a no nonsense Captain and Safety Pilot with thirty years invested
in the company. On a personal note, First officer Ernest Riechel was
in the mist of a ugly divorce. On the days leading up to the
incident, Riechel had lost 28 pounds, his uniform no longer fit him
and he had started the monthg's schedule by arriving to work without
his uniform coat and cap. Besides other petty differences, arriving
at work not in uniform offended Capatian Gilbert. In the early part
of the month, Captain Gilbert officially "wrote up" F./O Riechel.
This incident created a atmosphere of heinous hostility in the
cockpit. Such hostilities were obvious to fellow pilots who revealed
to me that these two individuals should not have been in the cockpit
together, but were reluctant to personally get involved because of the
"silent code" of pilots. F/O officer Riechel also related to me
during the flight of 2605 that he had not slept for 40 hours prior.
SUPERVISING CHECK PILOT:
The day before the crash, in regards to concerns of some pilots and
Captain Gilbert's write up, a Supervising Pilot of the company briefly
spoke with Gilbert and Richel separately to gauge the situation.
Reluctant to express their true feelings for fear of possibly
embarrassing themselves, the pilots made light of the
"misunderstandings." In what amounted to nothing more than one good
old boy talking to another, the supervising pilot dropped the issue.
Unfortunately, the issue was bigger than anyone realized. During the
flight, I entered the cockpit of 2605 and was witness to a heated
verbal lashing of Riechel by Captain Gilbert.
MEXICAN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL:
During the flight, Mexican Air Traffic Control can be heard on the CVR
recording, advising 2605 to expect a landing on Runway 23-Left, the
only runway equipped with NIS capabilities. This statement was
removed from the final Mexican report.
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