My niece, Lacey Stevens’ boyfriend, Chris Killinger has had a few “news” in his life these days. Recently, he got a new truck, and Lacey tells me that he is obsessed with it. I’m not sure if obsession is a good thing, but Chris certainly thinks it is. Lacey tends to think it’s a little too much obsession, but then, most girls probably don’t understand the obsession men have with their vehicles. I know I don’t get it. It is a guy thing, for sure.
Chris also has a new job. He wasn’t sure how he was going to feel about his new job, but now he absolutely loves it. Chris was very surprised to find out that he really likes the aviation industry. Chris can often be found posting a morning “view from my office” picture for the rest of us to see. I must say we are all just a little bit envious of his office view, which includes the runway and airplanes at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport. Chris is the Inventory Control/Purchasing Agent at Soaring Aviation, and his office is practically on the runway. Recently, there have been a number of military planes flying into the airport for training purposes. Who doesn’t love F-18s and F35s? Most of us could stand to watch them all day long. We love them in flyovers and feel a thrill as they roar over our heads. For Chris, that has become a daily activity, and that is very cool. He has also been able to bring some of his family out sometimes to watch all the activity that takes place at the airport. That is something none of them ever expected to make a regular part of their lives, but they are really loving the fact that it has become just that.
Chris is dad to Brooklynn and Jaxon. Along with Lacey, they are his priority. Chris is very supportive of the business that Lacey started this past year. He is always posting advertising for her salon on his page, helping to bring in business for her, and his efforts have contributed to a very successful first year for Lacey. The happiness of his family is the most important thing to Chris. Chris and Lacey love to take the kids to do fun things. Right now, the family is just enjoying life and summer vacation for the kids. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Following instructions and paying close attention to those instructions are crucial to the safe operation of a plane, especially at take offs and landings. When the pilot of Comair Flight 5191 taxied to the runway of his takeoff, something went horribly wrong. He was told to proceed to Runway 22, but he turned one lane too early, and ended up taking off on Runway 26, which was too short for a safe take off of a plane of that size. Comair 1591, was a CRJ-100ER plane that was carrying 47 passengers and 3 crew members. Instead of using runway 22 as expected, they used runway 26 which had too short of a path for a safe takeoff, even though Captain Jeffrey Clay confirmed using runway 22. He inadvertently took a left too early according to the map. At Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, on August 27, 2006, 49 of the 50 passengers and crew died while taking off from the airport. It’s hard to say at what point the pilot knew he was in trouble, but as the plane reached the end of the runway, they knew that there had not been enough time to gt the plane up to speed,and they simply couldn’t get enough lift to get it safely in the air. “They must have almost cleared the fence because only the top of it was missing and then the tips of some trees further out were also burnt off,” said Nick Bentley, who owns the 115-acre farm where the plane crashed, referring to an 8-foot metal fence that separates his property from the airport’s 3,500-foot runway.
Shortly after 6am, Comair flight 1591 crashed in a field just half a mile from the Blue Grass Airport in an area of Kentucky known for its horse farms and the Keeneland Race Course. The plane was traveling from Lexington to Atlanta, when it went down. Peggy Young, who lives on Rice Road, near the area where the plane came down, said that just after 6am she and her husband Michael were awakened by the sound of the crash. “There was a loud explosion,” she said in a telephone interview. “We thought it was just a storm, but then we thought it was too loud to be a storm because it had just barely rained. We just were sleeping in when the phone rang and it was Keeneland security and they told my husband there had been an airplane crash.”
First Officer James Polehinke was the only survivor of the crash. He suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung, and severe bleeding. In the end, the ultimate blame was put on the captain, because he didn’t abort liftoff despite questioning his surroundings. Nevertheless, the airport was found to be using outdated maps and had needed to improve runway markings and conditions.So in reality there was blame to go around, and because of the errors, 49 people lost their lives that day in August, twelve years ago. “The whole airport shut down from Aug. 18 to 20,” said Brian Ellestad, the director of marketing and community relations.
As another year has come and gone since the passing of my great aunt, Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper, I am shocked to realize that it has been 25 years…or at least I was when I was reminded of that fact by a survivor of the crash of United Airlines flight 232, Jerry Schemmel, when he contacted me about a project he was working on. It seemed impossible that so much time had passed. To this day, I can picture that crash, every time the thought of Aunt Gladys comes up, or another plane crash, or most especially that crash comes up. My Aunt Gladys was such a wonderful person, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.
When Jerry Schemmel contacted me about writing a tribute to Aunt Gladys, I was so pleased that he had taken it upon himself to set up a tribute site to the victims of Flight 232, on the 25th anniversary of that horrible day. In reality, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. It seems that Jerry Schemmel was not just one of the survivors of that crash, but a hero too. After surviving the initial crash, he went back into the wreckage and rescued an 11 month old baby. How many people can think that clearly after the plane they were flying in just crashed, or cartwheeled really, on the runway, killing 112 people? Not many I would have to say. Most people would be concerned for themselves and their own, but there are heroes among us, and Jerry Schemmel was one.
I am almost embarrassed to say that until I looked Jerry up on the internet, hoping for a picture for my story, I had no idea who I was in contact with. Maybe some of you know…or maybe, like me you are in the dark. Jerry Schemmel is an American sportscaster, and the current voice of the Colorado Rockies. I wonder just how many times I have heard his voice, since I am a Colorado Rockies fan. Probably a lot. While his education was in law, his biggest claim to fame is as a sportscaster. But to me, his greatest single act was when he saved that 11 month old baby.
I wish things could have been different for my Aunt Gladys, but it is comforting to know that after that horrific crash, there were heroes among the passengers who did their very best to save as many people as possible. While Jerry’s site “Welcome To The Tribute To The Victims Of The Crash Of United Airlines Flight 232” is a tribute to the victims of that crash, we should also remember the heroes, like Jerry who survived, went back to help, and never forgot those who lost their lives. I believe that crash changed Jerry forever, and I would strongly recommend the book he wrote about the experience called, “Chosen To Live”. I believe Jerry certainly was.