On this day in 1985 a confused pilot screamed "what the f*** was that?" after a part of his right engine broke loose, starting a chain of events that saw his plane go down, killing everyone on board – and a nearby deer.
Midwest Express Flight 105 crashed shortly after takeoff from Mitchell International Airport, killing all 31 people on board and a deer that was caught up in the "raging inferno".
In command of the flight, from Madison, Wisconsin and then on to Atlanta, Georgia via Milwaukee, were two captains: Danny Martin, 31, and Roger “Bill” Weiss, 37.
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On the first leg of the journey, Martin was to be captain, before switching with his colleague.
But the pair never made it that far, as the plane encountered problems shortly after lift off.
Midwest Express Airlines began life as an internal corporate jet service for executives at the company Kimberly-Clark before offering commercial flights from 1984.
Packed with 27 customers, some of which were Kimberly-Clark execs, the plane took off before Martin heard a loud bang and reacted, saying: "What the [expletive] was that?", which was not responded to by First Officer Weiss.
“What do we got here, Bill?” he asked seconds later and was, once again, met with silence.
An investigation later revealed that part of the engine came loose and tore through the casing. Despite the plane thrusting to the right the captain deliberately steered into the failed engine — having initially countering it correctly.
Again, Martin swore as the DC-9 rolled and spun into the ground in a barrel roll fashion.
Moments before in the cabin, a flight attendant could be heard shouting: “Heads down! Heads down!” in an attempt to get the passengers to assume the brace position.
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Seconds later, the plane slipped into a corkscrew dive and plunged straight toward the ground and exploded on impact, flattening trees in a nature conservancy and sending a fireball up over Mitchell Field.
Emergency workers recovered the badly burned bodies of the 31 passengers and crew, along with the remains of a deer.
In interviews with Midwest Express pilots, it was learned that the airline had an unofficial, unwritten rule called the “silent cockpit philosophy” that explained why – in official terms – Weiss negated his first officer duties by not responding to his captain in a time of need.
The “silent cockpit” meant that a pilot’s first priority when dealing with an emergency after full take off and below an altitude of 800 feet was to simply fly the plane without distraction.
The idea was that any conversation could wait until the plane was stabilized at 800 feet.
The airline’s chief pilot even defended the flawed philosophy at an NTSB hearing.
Just 15 seconds passed between the engine failure and the moment of impact that claimed 31 lives.
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