by Robert Firth
Tenerife, the worst accident in aviation history; like all pilots, Captain Van Zantenâs decision to go for the take-off was only one of the many thousands of decisions he had made in his career. Rain, snow or fog obscuring the view of the entire runway was not uncommon and something he had experienced many times.
He was thinking about many things; the delays, his inconvenienced passengers, the schedule, and the flight legs facing him after dropping his passengers just 25 minutes away.
Of course, he was 100% certain that the Pan Am aircraft was clear of the runway. As his aircraft was gaining speed, he was readying himself for the mental switch from visual to instruments as he would be climbing through the fog. The instant he saw the Pan Am aircraft looming into view directly ahead of him he knew, he knew right then and right there, he knew he was dead, he knew they were all dead......everything flashed through his mind... Instinctually, he pulled back on the yoke......but he knew...
No pilot would ever consider, for a moment, initiating a take-off unless he was absolutely certain the runway was clear. Van Zantenâs decision to shove those power levers forward began a terrible inevitable chain of horrendous events sending a enormous shock wave of loss and sorrow down through the decades.
His two children never saw their dad again. Consider the hundreds dead, each with many close friends, wives and children, relatives and associates, all suffering from this captain's fateful decision. As the wrecked, tortured and doomed fuselage hurled itself toward its' fiery destruction, he, in those last seconds, understood everything....
The survivors and relatives of the dead have to live for the rest of their lives with their losses and, every hour of every day, they remember and are, in this sense, forever damaged.. the changes are profound and permanent, deep scars in the psyche. AFTERMATH, speaks to these things......
In a way, the accumulated grief and loss of the aftermath eventually eclipses the enormity of the horrendous event itself ...
- eBookIt.com, February 2012
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