I went onto my Facebook account just now and got this info from a retired Marine Colonel who now flies for United out of SFO. He was a 1st Lt & Capt when I knew him in HMM-268 during the early 80's. You aviation guys will understand the jargon used. Just thought you'd like an assessment by a non-news type person.Semper Fi John
In response to many emails and for all the Bubba's this is what I know. I was driving to the airport when it happened. I was scheduled to take 573 to the east coast at 3 pm so I actually got there a couple of hours after it happened. Got cancelled around 8 pm. The real scoop will come when one of the news agencies figures out that the ILS glide slope and approach lights to 28 left and right have been out of service for a couple of weeks because of construction on both of the 28s.
I did get to talk to a friend who was a co-pilot on the United 747 holding short for departure to Osaka. They were holding on Taxiway F nose on to the approach and waiting for final weights on the computer. He told me that his Captain said, "Look at this guy". He looked up and saw them at about 300 feet with a huge angle of attack and the nose still coming up.
Since I haven't flown the triple, I'm not really familiar with the spool time on those engines, but my friend said they could see, in his words, "the burner tap" or full power exhaust plume just prior to impact. Per his description, the tail shattered into match sticks on the seawall rocks and the main gear disintegrated on the lead in chevrons to 28L, followed by a major bounce and then they lost sight as he went by.
Kind of interesting that post-crash our crew was talking to the tower trying to get them to roll a rescue to the end of the runway. Evidently, a few survivors got puked when the tail came apart and were doing the zombie walk at the end of the runway which was a couple of thousand feet behind the main wreckage at the ten board.
All in all an amazing day that could have been huge in a lot of ways. As my friend also stated, "We were fortunate that we hadn't made the turn to the actual hold short line or we would have gotten whacked as he came by". I'd rather be lucky than good.AND ThisEmbarrassingly easy to land. You have to be a total tool (or an Asian pilot, same difference) to screw up a landing like that. And the Asiana pilot must have disabled the auto throttle safety feature by disarming the A/T'S on the MCP. You probably have the same feature on the ER, where the A/T's will un-"hold" and drive forward once the alpha limit is reached (1/2 way through the amber hook). The ONLY way to disable this feature is by disarming the A/T's on the Mode Control Panel. As I've told many people I care about, never ever put your family on an Asian airline because of cultural issues. Namely, a co-pilot would rather watch his Captain (or Captain in training) crash into a seawall rather than risk having the captain "lose face" by correcting him (and there were 3 other pilots in the Asiana cockpit). This ideological mantra has existed for centuries, remains firmly in place and has no business in the cockpit of an airliner.