Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

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Res Ipsa
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Dr Moore wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:53 pm
The FOIA rep for FAA tells me that it has no "historical flight data" records before 1988. I had asked to see departure and arrival data for the state of Utah for Nov 11, 12 and 13 in 1976. No dice.
Yeah, I think even back in the '70s, everything was subject to document retention policies that can differ from document to document and change over time. A FOIA response is like a box of chocolates...
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Dr Moore wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:00 pm
DrW, do you know where to find the rule 830 in effect for 1976?
Tom found it on the Library of Congress web site. You can find them for lots of different years. https://www.loc.gov/item/cfr1976128-T49CVIIIP830/

ETA: I haven't done a word for word comparison with the current rules, but the difference that pop out are: (1) the regulations in 1976 do not use the term "serious incident." But that doesn't affect how the regulation works: immediate notification is required for accidents and for a list of specific types of incidents. They just assign a name for that list. (2) The list of incidents that require immediate notification is much shorter.

The regulations can change from year to hear, but the CFR has a section that can help you know which years you need to check. Between the headings and the text, you should find the word "SOURCE" followed by some text. That should tell you both the year the regulation was adopted and note any changes made between the date of adoption and the year you are looking at. (AUTHORITY will tell you which statute or statutes the regulation was issued under.}

Looking at the 1976 version, I learn that they were enacted July 17, 1975 and there were no amendments in that year or in 1976. So, the reference is telling you how the regulations read between 7/17/75 and 12/31/76. But, you can't conclude from the source information that these regulations did not exist before 7/17/76. If you went to the page of the Federal Register that is listed, you'll find the text of the regulation as it was adopted, not organized by subject matter like the CFR does. So if you want to know what the regulations said at a given point in time, the best way is to look at the CFR for that year.

So, if you want to know what the regulations looked like in 1967, the best source is the CFR for 1967. But, if you look under the same Title and Section and the regulation aren't there, you can't conclude that there were no reporting regulations for that year. The identical regulations might have been listed under a different title that year. The administrative organizational structure for aircraft regulations has changed significantly over the years. So, I noticed that for some period of time, these reporting regulations are under Title 14 Aeronautics and Space and not Title 49 Transportation.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Dr Moore wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:00 pm
DrW, do you know where to find the rule 830 in effect for 1976?

Your snip above excluded another important situation -- in bold below. Though I can't tell if that rule only applies to bad landings at an airport, or landings outside of an airport. If not the latter, then what the hell is the reporting rule if an aircraft lands OUTSIDE of an airport???
Subpart B - Initial Notification of Aircraft Accidents, Incidents, and Overdue Aircraft
§ 830.5 Immediate notification.
The operator of any civil aircraft, or any public aircraft not operated by the Armed Forces or an intelligence agency of the United States, or any foreign aircraft shall immediately, and by the most expeditious means available, notify the nearest National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) office, [1] when:

(a) An aircraft accident or any of the following listed serious incidents occur:

(1) Flight control system malfunction or failure;

(2) Inability of any required flight crewmember to perform normal flight duties as a result of injury or illness;

(3) Failure of any internal turbine engine component that results in the escape of debris other than out the exhaust path;

(4) In-flight fire;

(5) Aircraft collision in flight;

(6) Damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair (including materials and labor) or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less.

(7) For large multiengine aircraft (more than 12,500 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight):

(i) In-flight failure of electrical systems which requires the sustained use of an emergency bus powered by a back-up source such as a battery, auxiliary power unit, or air-driven generator to retain flight control or essential instruments;

(ii) In-flight failure of hydraulic systems that results in sustained reliance on the sole remaining hydraulic or mechanical system for movement of flight control surfaces;

(iii) Sustained loss of the power or thrust produced by two or more engines; and

(iv) An evacuation of an aircraft in which an emergency egress system is utilized.

(8) Release of all or a portion of a propeller blade from an aircraft, excluding release caused solely by ground contact;

(9) A complete loss of information, excluding flickering, from more than 50 percent of an aircraft's cockpit displays known as:

(i) Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) displays;

(ii) Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) displays;

(iii) Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) displays; or

(iv) Other displays of this type, which generally include a primary flight display (PFD), primary navigation display (PND), and other integrated displays;

(10) Airborne Collision and Avoidance System (ACAS) resolution advisories issued when an aircraft is being operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan and compliance with the advisory is necessary to avert a substantial risk of collision between two or more aircraft.

(11) Damage to helicopter tail or main rotor blades, including ground damage, that requires major repair or replacement of the blade(s);

(12) Any event in which an operator, when operating an airplane as an air carrier at a public-use airport on land:

(i) Lands or departs on a taxiway, incorrect runway, or other area not designed as a runway; or

(ii) Experiences a runway incursion that requires the operator or the crew of another aircraft or vehicle to take immediate corrective action to avoid a collision.

(b) An aircraft is overdue and is believed to have been involved in an accident.
I note that you quoted (3) above previously. Reading it again in context here suggests that if engine on Nelson's plane "exploded" or "blew open" as he describes, then of course (3) would apply and should appear in an NTSB investigative record somewhere. It isn't up to a pilot to assess whether or not damage occurred on the ground from falling debris, if I read this correctly. So if no NTSB report was made, then Nelson's story implicates the pilot for breaking the law?

And, the crew statement(s) would be on record somewhere, if the incident were reported, even if it doesn't show up in the accessible "accident" database. Obviously we don't have a full "incident" database for pre 1978, but surely the NTSB has records, somewhere, which might be found through proper inquiry.
Crewmember statement. Each crewmember, if physically able at the time the report is submitted, shall attach a statement setting forth the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to the accident or incident as they appear to him. If the crewmember is incapacitated, he shall submit the statement as soon as he is physically able.
Paragraph 12 appears to have been added sometime after 1976. Paragraph (3) applies to turbine engines, and we haven't found any reason to expect that any craft that Nelson flew on at the relevant time was powered by turbine engines.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Dr Moore »

Ah, yes I see both.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Lem »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:51 pm
...and we haven't found any reason to expect that any craft that Nelson flew on at the relevant time was powered by turbine engines.
We haven't found a reason? Or a reason hasn't been properly searched for,
analyzed, and ruled out? Absence of evidence.... blah blah blah.
:lol: Just trying to lighten the mood on this (IMO unnecessarily caustic) thread.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Lem wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:18 pm
Res Ipsa wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:51 pm
...and we haven't found any reason to expect that any craft that Nelson flew on at the relevant time was powered by turbine engines.
We haven't found a reason? Or a reason hasn't been properly searched for,
analyzed, and ruled out? Absence of evidence.... blah blah blah.
:lol: Just trying to lighten the mood on this (IMO unnecessarily caustic) thread.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

I did a little more digging on the subject of records that might still exist, focussing on the NTSB. In 2014, the National Archives did an inspection of the NTSB's records management systems. Some of the conclusions relevant to whether records from the 1970s still exist:
1.1 Finding: NTSB does not currently have a consolidated records inventory that includes information about where records are physically located, that identifies vital records, and that includes other information about records essential to a comprehensive inventory.

1.2 Finding: NTSB is not scheduling its records. As such, the agency is at risk of destroying records prematurely, maintaining records longer than necessary, and failing to transfer permanent records to the National Archives when appropriate.

1.3 Finding: NTSB does not adequately respond to notifications of records eligible for disposal from the WNRC.

2.1 Finding: NTSB has weak to non-existent procedures in place for ensuring a compliant records management program.

...

4.2 Finding: NTSB lacks agency policy on the integration of records management considerations into the design and development of electronic information systems.

4.3 Finding: There are no policies and procedures related to storing records and information on shared drives or for the proper storage of electronic records generally.

4.4 Finding: Long-term temporary and potentially permanent electronic records are maintained on a wide variety of media and have never been migrated to new media as required for preservation and accessibility.
https://www.archives.gov/files/records- ... ection.pdf

The text of the report is pretty grim. As of 2014, it doesn't sound like the NTSB knew which records had been preserved, and where any preserved records would be located. I'll look for a follow up report.

The Library of Congress has a collection of documents from the NTSB that includes documents from the 1970s. These are decisions in FAA enforcement actions. At least at that time, the NTSB provided the administrative law judges for hearings. So, if whatever happened resulted in a contested enforcement action that was heard by an administrative law judge, it might be in that collection.

https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2018/12/natio ... digitized/

I'm looking at filing a FOIA request for any records of Notifications under 49 CFR § 830.5 and the Reports on form 6120 under 48 CFR § 830.15. I found this Request for Authority to Dispose of Records made by the NTSB and approved by the GAO on 1/18/78. It's basically a records retention policy for certain NTSB documents. The periods relevant to documents we might be interested in are:

Form 6120s for Air Carriers Accidents: 15 years
Form 6120s for Non-Air Carrier Accidents: 7 years
Aircraft Incident Reports: 7 years (Under the regulations, should also be on a 6120)
Missing Aircraft Notifications: 20 years

All of these dates are after "close of case"

The only reference to Notifications is to the Missing Aircraft Notification. However, there is also a policy for a folder of working papers and other documents not related to a final determination of cause in "accident" cases. If that's where the NTSB kept records of Notifications in their files, the applicable retention period is 4 years.

I also ran some searches on the NTSB database just to see what is actually being searched. I found the following:

For at least the 1970s, what is being searched is not original documents. What is being searched are summaries of final determinations of probable cause. So, that means the NTSB investigated the event and issued some kind of final report. These are not the "Reports" that operators are required to file under notice and report regulations.

Many of the parameter selection tools don't work. These summaries were entered by a project in 2002 that added older records to the database. That project did not use fields that match many of the search parameter fields. So, for example, if you try to search for only accidents or only incidents, you'll get no hits. Likewise, searching by severity of damage doesn't work either. And, for whatever reason, the text search isn't reliable either. If you try to find all cases with substantial damage by putting "substantial" damage in the text box, it will find some, but not all, of the summaries that contain the word "substantial"

The date fields and the parameter search for states do work. So you can search for Utah records in a specified range of dates.

The database contains summaries of final reports of accidents and "selected" incidents. To get a feel for what "selected" means, I ran a query for all Utah records during 1976. The search returned 57 items. I reviewed each item to determine whether it was an "accident" or an "incident" The individual records do classify the degree of damage and severity of injury, which let me classify the events according to the definitions in the CFR. Of the 57 entries, 56 were accidents. All 56 classified the damage as either "substantial" or "destroyed." The only incident involved a pilot who became incapacitated on Western Airlines 737. There was a "precautionary landing" resulting in no damages or injury. Some of the information that normally appears in final reports is missing, such as the number of passengers.

The single report of an incident does state in the text that the event was classified as an incident. And the index list of records has a column titled "event severity" That column, which usually either says fatal or nonfatal, says "incident." As an event can be an accident based on severity of injury or damage, that really doesn't make sense. So, I won't rely on that for any future searches.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by kairos »

Can the name of the pilot of the almost doomed a/c be found out- like at SLC airport flight plans section or the company he worked for- eg Hughes?

if he can be named he may still be alive- RMN is, he might be LDS with a drawer full of journals, he may have been involved in accidents/incidents beyond 1976.

btw - i cannot believe RMN did tell someone at the college inauguration reception about his close to death call and finally in remaining calm does that mean, he unlike the hysterical woman, did not soil his suit?

k
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Morley »

Res Ipsa.

Reading this thread, I can see why you're in insurance law. I can also see why, if someone told me I had to be an attorney specializing in insurance, I would shoot myself. And then take poison.

Kudos to you, Sir.
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Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

kairos wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 8:22 pm
Can the name of the pilot of the almost doomed a/c be found out- like at SLC airport flight plans section or the company he worked for- eg Hughes?

if he can be named he may still be alive- RMN is, he might be LDS with a drawer full of journals, he may have been involved in accidents/incidents beyond 1976.

btw - i cannot believe RMN did tell someone at the college inauguration reception about his close to death call and finally in remaining calm does that mean, he unlike the hysterical woman, did not soil his suit?

k
This is the hardest part of the whole exercise. We have oodles of evidence that eyewitness evidence is inaccurate -- sometimes wildly so. And we have evidence that even what we experience as vivid, crystal clear memories, change over time. Sometimes pretty dramatically. And the more we recall the event, the greater that chance of change. You can remember an event that happened 20 years ago. But your brain doesn't keep versions of that memory that you have over time. So, our memories change, but we have no way to know they have changed unless we write them down or record ourselves at intervals over time.

Attempting to identify the pilot requires us to assume that certain specific details, that appear in some tellings of the story but not others, are details that Nelson remembered correctly. Unless Nelson has some kind of super memory, it would be very unlikely that every detail recited in every version is accurate. And some of the details are filled in as time goes on, even though we'd expect Nelson's memory to be getting less accurate over time. If we assume that Nelson correctly remembered that he was flying from SLC City to St. George and if he correctly remembered that the trip was to attend an event at Dixie College, and if he correctly remembered later that the event was the inauguration of the college president and not some other flight to St. George, and if he correctly remembered that it was a "commuter flight" and if he correctly remembered that he flew to St. George the same day as the event, then we can narrow it down to one or two flights on Skywest. If one or more of these details are inaccurate, it gets harder.

Another problem is the nature of storytelling. Stories, as opposed to a witness statements, are not told or understood as a recitation of every fact the storyteller recalls from start to finish. Before the pandemic, I was attending a monthly storytelling meetup, done in the style of the Moth competitions. It's written by a guy who won an incredible number of story telling competitions. The format includes the requirement that it must be a story about the storyteller, and it must be true.

The book is about how to construct in interesting, engaging and memorable story from the events that happen in your life. In a witness statement, the witness is told to write down all the facts she can remember. Stories, however, are constructed from those facts. And the meaning that you want to communicate through the story will dictate which details to include and which to leave out. So, as far as we know, we don't have an eyewitness account from Nelson in which he tried to communicate every detail he recalled. We just have a bunch of stories.

Figuring out what actually happened 45 years ago from a bunch of versions of a story told by a single eyewitness over time is hard. Probably the best source of evidence we could hope for was identified by DrW -- the logs of the pilot and aircraft. The log entries would be by the pilot, who is the witness most likely to understand what actually happened. And they would be about as contemporaneous with the events as we could hope for. We would not expect the pilot to exaggerate what happened, so a source we should be able to trust.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
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