What Do You Want To Hear? Let Us Know!

So fascinations with natural and man-made catastrophes have resonated for me my entire life.  What about you?  Drop me a note to let me know what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming podcast!

Been Delayed Again

Yes, real life has once again delayed the podcast!

First it was the job situation. Like many people out there, my job is somewhat in jeopardy, so being able to have the energy to do something as fun as I consider the podcast was just not happening.  It’s hard to focus on something you consider fun when your professional life comes to a screeching halt around you.

And then came the fires.  It started with a horrid windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest, which spurred many of the fires you see.  We happen to live out in the rural part of Oregon, even though we’re not far from the Portland city limits (about four miles as the crow flies).  We had a power outage that lasted more than 24 hours, and then as soon as it came back, we were told that we may have to evacuate at a minutes notice because the fires were moving with such ferocity that some people didn’t get notice at all.  We were in limbo for several days until the weather turned.  And though we wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, we couldn’t because of all the ash and smoke that choked our area.

Things have calmed down, and the fires are abating.  Two months of absolute pandemonium, finally at a quiet roar.

So the podcast will get back in the next month.  I look forward to recording it and hearing your thoughts!

The Crashes of the de Havilland Comets in the 1950s

Today we go back into history by almost 70 years and discuss three different crashes of the de Havilland Comet that happened in 1953 and 1954.  These crashes changed not only the way airplanes were manufactured, but also increased our understanding of metal fatigue. And it’s why we have circular windows in airplanes these days, and how Boeing became the dominant aircraft manufacturer for decades.

As always, you can download the episode here, find us on iTunes, Stitcher, and I Heart Radio or listen on the embedded player below.


The 1918 Spanish Flu

In this, my first podcast in 10 months, I talk about an illness that gripped the world over 100 years ago, the 1918 Spanish Flu.  From the origins of the epidemic to the four waves that spread across the globe, this remains one of the most deadly epidemics in human history.

I touch on quite a bit, but the part that’s the most fascinating is how San Francisco cut itself off from the rest of the world during the second wave of the flu.  And then, after doing so well, and after catering to “anti-quarantine/anti-mask-wearing” individuals, San Francisco opened themselves back up – just in time to be decimated by a third wave.  This info needs to broadcast for people to watch today – especially the anti-quarantine/anti-mask-wearing folks who insist on keeping us unsafe by their need to go out for a drink and a haircut.

As usual, you can download the latest podcast from here, find us on iTunes, find us on Stitcher, or listen to the episode in the embedded player below.

Sources for the podcast are:


Sudden Silence, Explained

So I’d done really well with updating the podcast starting at the end of 2018, and made it a monthly thing.  Not as often as I wanted, but still managed to get some good podcasts out.  I even got a really good interview podcast done with Professor Daniel Aldrich about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

And then I disappeared.

Well, this is a little note of explanation and apology.  Literally the night before that podcast was published, two things happened to me.  First, we adopted a puppy, which yes, can take up a lot of your time.  But bigger than that, I got a part time job on top of my full time job.  I’m now having to work 60+ hours per week, and have for the last four months.  Between the massive time needed for working two jobs and the puppy, I have no time.

This second job won’t last forever, though – though I’m happy it allowed me to pay off my credit card debt.  So as soon as it does, I will get right back to podcasting.  So until then, keep the ideas coming, and I’ll keep compiling shows until we’re ready to go!

The 3/11 Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Catastrophes of Tohoku, Japan

In this very special podcast, I go over a bit about Japan’s 3/11 catastrophe.  Now most of the world is familiar with what 9/11 means, but until recently, I did not know that Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear catastrophes of the Fukushima Daiichi plant were known as the 3/11 disasters.  And there’s so much to know about this entire event, which is why a special interview is part of the podcast.  I’ve interviewed Professor Daniel Aldrich, who has written a book on the subject of Japan’s catastrophes, and the fascinating aspects that helped determine if you were more or less likely to survive.

As always, you can download the latest podcast from here, find us on iTunes, find us on Stitcher, or listen to the episode in the embedded player below.

Short on time, so sources will come later. In the meantime:

The Crash of JAL Flight 123 on August 12th, 1985

Today’s podcast goes into the horrific crash that led to the largest loss of life in a single-plane accident in aviation history.  Not only was the crash horrific, but the aftermath of the rescue was so bungled, that it left people to die.

As always, you can download the latest podcast from here, find us on iTunes, find us on Stitcher, or listen to the episode in the embedded player below.

Sources for the podcast are:

A few observations.  First off, I’d never heard of Association for the Study of Failure until researching this podcast.  But if you go through their scenario as it comes to this event, the list of causation about the accident is quite long, but the first non-human factor (usage) comes thirteenth on their list, which starts with “Ignorance”.  That’s pretty harsh, but in reality, true.

Finally, here’s the pictures as promised, used from Wikipedia:

Survivor Seating Chart

Amateur photographer’s pictures of the crippled aircraft.

Correct (top) and incorrect (bottom) splicing repair of the after pressurized bulkhead.

The Crash And Legacy of PSA Flight 182 from September, 1978

Today’s podcast is about a subject that has changed commercial and private aviation forever, giving us a legacy of safer flying while paying respect to the lives lost.  Every time you fly on a modern airliner, the memory of Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182 should be honored.

As always, you can download the latest podcast from here, find us on iTunes, find us on Stitcher, or listen to the episode in the embedded player below.

Sources for the podcast are:

edit: I referenced American Airlines flight 191 in this podcast, which you can download here or find the blogpost here.

A Look At Uncontrolled Engine Failures in Two Different Catastrophes

Today’s podcast is about two different incidents, that are not only 30 years apart but are immeasurably different based on the outcomes of both incidents.  The first, United Airlines Flight 232, is one that haunts me just because of the sheer horror in the detail that was caught on camera, while the second, Southwest Airlines flight 1380, is much less known.

Here is the crash as caught by a camcorder as promised in the podcast, that someone has included the CVR recording.

And here is a diagram of how the plane broke up, as well as injuries and fatalities.  (Click to embiggen)












As always, you can download the latest podcast from here, find us on iTunes, find us on Stitcher, or listen to the episode in the embedded player below.

Sources for the podcast are:


edit: One last thing.  In this podcast, mentioned a previous podcast where a flight attendant gave her life saving others.  That one would be podcast #12, which you can find here.

Never Underestimate The Level of Stupidity of People In Large Groups

As of this writing, there’s been another plane crash in Russia.  This time it’s a Sukoi SuperJet that’s crashed in Moscow.  The plane landed with half of it on fire, and somehow the pilots were able to calmly bring the plane to a stop on a runway, where people started to evacuate.

That anyone got out alive seems to be a bit of a miracle.  At least based on the video:

Truly a miracle indeed.

But here’s the rub.  At the end of the story is a single sentence that makes my blood boil. It says:

There were unconfirmed claims people retrieving their bags from overhead compartments led to a delay in evacuating the aircraft.

It wouldn’t be the first time. There are countless pictures of people evacuating planes that are on fire, that have their luggage. If you don’t believe me, here’s an image:

And here’s an image:

And here’s yet one more:

There are literally dozens of these images all over the Internet.  And it doesn’t matter where the emergency is.  North America, Europe, Asia – it’s all the same.  People stop and get their luggage first, then get off the plane.  That is beyond screwed up.

My husband was on TWA Flight 379 from STL to SJC in July 2001, when we lived in California.  You probably don’t know about TWA 379, because it didn’t even make the national news, that I remember.  However, an engine blew up at altitude, and filled the cabin with smoke.  They had to do an emergency landing at Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Kansas City, because the pilots were afraid that the vibrations the engine was creating on the airframe could lead to engine separation, which would cause them to flip over, and surely crash.

When they touched down, the flight attendants did what they’re paid for – they evacuated that plane quickly and efficiently.  My husband said that there was not a single piece of luggage taken by any of the passengers.  Everything was left on board.  Why?  Because the flight attendants had planned for such an emergency, and stressed that in an emergency, you leave your luggage on the airplane.  The passengers listened, and they evacuated that plane before anything bad could happen.  The plane was supposed to get in at 7:30pm, but they finally got a new plane ferried in and arrived home about 4am the next morning.

So far unofficial casualty count for the Russian crash are 13 dead, including 2 children.  Some of them probably would have never survived due to the fire. But if even one person died due to the delay of someone getting their luggage out of the overhead bin?  That’s one too many.

A New Thought on Air Safety?

So the majority of the airline crashes that I’ve covered here have been based in the United States, though yes, there have been others like Tenerife, that happened overseas.  In the US, airline crashes – as long as they are not the result of criminal issues like a hijacking or the like – are treated as civilian issues.  We have a civilian organization underneath the Department of Transportation that goes in, looks at all the details and makes a determination.  If it’s an accident, that’s one thing.  But if it’s due to negligence, like Alaska Airlines flight 261, or American Airlines flight 191 where maintenance cut corners, the airline can get fined.

But what if the United States treated air crash investigations like Italy or Greece did – like criminal investigations?  Would that give the airline more impetus to not cut corners?

There’s an article on that very subject that was just published on TheHill.com, and it’s a unique take on the subject.  They argue that if you use the same type of rules that a 2002 law put into place to prevent things like Enron from happening on the financial side of things (or risk penalties of fines in the millions of dollars and/or jail time), but instead for airline safety, would that help the industry?  It’s honestly an interesting take.  But then again, why should a CEO be more apt to sign off on his accounting practices, and not the safety of the aircraft that they produce?

Head on over and read the link if you’re interested.