Picking Up The Pieces

“Tears filled her eyes, as the faces of the flight crew stared at her from her kitchen table, smiling, knowing the secret, but unwilling to tell.”

Flight For Control


Karlene Petitt



I was working at a summer camp during the evening of July 17th, 1996, having just returned from my introduction to commercial aviation and international travel, when I received a phone call from my mother to inform me that TWA Flight 800 had crashed near the coast of Long Island.



PICKING UP THE PIECES: A Tribute to TWA Flight 800


The quote above from Flight For Control comes to mind as this is not only one of the deadliest aviation catastrophes it is also one of the most complex.  I remember watching a documentary on the N.T.S.B. investigation of this case and I remember the millions of recovered pieces rescued from the site of impact and each and every detailed piece that was placed back as if it were a true scale sized model airplane (as best as possible into their original positions in order to draw any new information.)



PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER: Resurrecting the damaged plane



As in any air crash case, answers were needed and fast.  Time was of the essence and grieving families wanted answers.  Investigators wanted to know something so that not only would they be able to answer the victims’ families and loved ones, but to try and implement a solution to the problem.



N93119 – Boeing 747-131



The N.T.S.B. came out with the official report of the crash on August 23, 2000, probable cause being:



“[An] explosion of the center wing fuel tank (CWT), resulting from ignition of the inflammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but, of the sources evaluated by the investigation, the most likely was a short circuit outside of the CWT that allowed excessive voltage to enter it through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.”


What is most scary about the outcome is not knowing the source of the short circuit outside the CWT. Despite the N.T.S.B.’s closing of the case, so many theories remain.  Also, all so troubling, is nearly two years later, a somewhat similar ignition catastrophe occurred on September 2, 1998 on board Swissair Flight 111, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (HB-IWF).  The right side ceiling above the flight deck caught fire due to faulty flammable material and spread rapidly destroying aircraft systems which led to the its unfortunate demise.  Fourteen crew and two hundred fifteen passengers perished into the Atlantic near St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia.



HB-IWF – McDonnell Douglas MD-11



So many unexplained aviation catastrophes have happened before and since because of fault maintenance.  It is not a mystery why the fear has been etched in stone for so many to step inside an airplane, especially a commercial one.  How much will it take for one human being to realize the life’s worth of another, if not lives?  What is even more scary is that it could have been you on that plane, less alone me.


My mother told me over the phone that evening, that as a result of the tragic event of TWA Flight 800, my former school district was suspending programs for students to travel internationally and for good reason.  One of the reasons was there was a group of foreign language students on board TWA 800 as a part of a class trip to Paris.  My first aviation and international travel experience was one of the last, if not the last, to take place for our district.


This case should not have to be.  Everyone should have the luxury of being able to fly, travel, and to feel safe doing so.  How much will take take to dive deep in the minds behind the aviation industry and pick up its broken pieces that have been shattered? 



The coast of Long Island. May every soul rest in peace and may all the pieces of our broken industry be rescued…. (Photo courtesy of one of my students)



In my humble opinion, the aviation industry is no longer on the verge of crashing, it has crashed.  The faulty maintenance of aircraft, pilots, cabin crew, and even I am sorry to say passengers is beyond astronomical.  The pieces need to be picked up so that we can not only be strong for the victim’s families, we can repair an industry that has been such a tremendous asset to our world. 


We can pick up the pieces to make a tribute to the victim’s whose lives those faces sitting across the table from you who were taken so untimely…



A Very Special Day Has Taken Off


Good morning to each and every one of you,

As you can see above, today is a very special day for this website.


Because we are about to do or extend what we’ve been doing for the past several months taking it to a new flight level.

Karlene Petitt author of Flight For Control has been an avid supporter of this website, taking time out of her very busy schedule to offer words of encouragement, support, and expertise at what she does: being an awesome person who knows how to have fun. Both in the skies and on the ground. She always mentions how she has the world in her backyard, literally, but what she fails to mention is that she has the world in her heart and that she only wants to share it with everyone.

Because this website is so endebted to her, I have decided to continue giving back to her but even more so on a higher level to promote her talent, her giving the world to everyone through her novel.

We are taking on this opportunity here on the flight deck to show our appreciation. I encourage, if you haven’t purchased the novel, to do so. Please do not forget to include the code

“Jeremy Sent Me”

On behalf of this website I wish to not only thank Karlene herself but to all of my followers and readers for your continued support.

May your wings take you only to success,


Memorial Day Weekend 2012

Every year on Memorial Day weekend, I usually attend the Bethpage Federal Credit Union Air Show at Jones Beach State Park as a part of:





Photo courtesy of Associated Press Files



Fleet Week here in NYC where the world’s best comes in and we show our gratitude to our U.S. Armed Forces.  It’s a phenomenal event and if you live outside of NYC, I highly recommend making it a point to come out here for this event every year for Memorial Weekend, not to mention for the Jones Beach Airshow.

It’s great being able to live in a country which promotes many freedoms where many countries do not.  My thoughts go out to all of the individuals who are currently in the service stationed overseas.  Your outstanding commitment to provide these freedoms to our democracy is outstanding and I, like several airlines, salute you in every way possible.



This is what I saw coming “back into the city” from Brooklyn the night of 10 September 2001. The next morning was a different story..



My thoughts also go out to those who have loved ones, both in the service and civilian citizens who have perished in the name of the United States of America so that we could have the freedoms we have today.  All I have to do is walk down the streets of New York City and see people of many faiths, nationalities, and backgrounds.  We are a melting pot and a testament of  what it means to live in a free country.  A great place to have Fleet Week every year, no?

Unfortunately, this year I will not be able to go to the Fleet Week events, and yes, sadly the Air Show at Jones Beach as I have another commitment to attend to.  During this commitment, believe-it-or-not, it’s customary to devour huge amounts of cheesecake.  I must say, I will be doing just that.

There’s also another piece of cheesecake to which I will be devouring.  For the third time.  Yes, Flight For Control and I will be going up for a third flight this weekend.  I still haven’t gotten enough of the characters in that book, the plot, and the outcome to which I will not spoil for you if you haven’t purchased and read the book. Every time I pick up that novel, it never ceases to amaze me that I always catch something new to which I haven’t caught before.  I never like to skip any words or meanings when reading.

I must say, I had quite a pleasant shock this morning when I decided to head over to Flight For Success to check out to see if Karlene made Darby the “Friday Flyer” (a weekly article made available on her website keynoting special aviators around the world.)  To my surprise the “Friday Flyer” was a future aviator who made the drawings for two contests:



  • The Coffee Mug with Attitude: “ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING”
  • A Visit From Karlene herself, anywhere in the world, to share her talent and her novel (Flight For Control)


My ritual morning Starbucks was not necessary to wake me up as I looked to find out that I had won the second contest and that Karlene will be coming to New York to join us live here on Jeremy’s Flight Deck.  (A dream come true?  I’d say so.)  My mouth hit the floor like heavy metal.  No Boeing 777-200LR or 787 would have enough range to circumnavigate the smile that is spanning across my face now.  I plan on utilizing this three day weekend to soak in the recent news.



I also want to wish a special congratulations to John Franco for winning the “ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING” coffee mug.  Enjoy your new travel companion and you should have many great uses from it!


Wishing everyone a Happy Memorial Day (Weekend)!