The other car


People who get into car accidents sometimes never see the other car coming. Or, if they do, they have no time to do anything but slam on the brakes and scream in vain as the collision occurs.

If they did see the other car coming in time, obviously there would be no accidents.

When TWA flight 641 landed at the Craig/Moffat Airport on March 14, it surprised more than a few people including the pilot and the passengers, who believed they had reached their destination of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

People chuckled. The standing joke for days was "TWA stands for The Wrong Airport." But while we chuckled, needling away in the back of our minds were images of what could have been a blazing fuselage and chaos as too few emergency workers showed up with too few resources way too late to do anything or save anyone.

But thanks to the skill of the pilot, despite his confusion, we were able to see the other car coming this time.

This, however, was not the first time confusion reigned in the skies over Craig.

Blaine Tucker, board member of the local airport advisory board, said that in the past two years, airplanes headed for Hayden on two occasions started to land at Craig, but the pilots realized their mistakes and had enough time to power back and land at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

How many times are we going to see the car coming?

Jim Parker, manager of Yampa Valley Regional Airport and airport advisory member, said the only permanent solution is improving the radar system so Denver can monitor planes below 13,000 feet. Denver can guide airplanes to airports, but once those planes fly below 13,000 feet, pilots must rely on radio contact with the ground crew or their own eyes.

In swirling snow and wind, which was the case on March 15, mistakes not only can happen but they will happen.

Parker said there is not adequate emergency equipment that could have reached the crash in time to do anything.

Getting an improved radar system would fall to the Federal Aviation Administration, whose purse strings often must be pried open with political clout.

Let's start working now to get our Congressional delegation to start hounding the FAA for that radar system.

The law of averages are against us.

We're running out of chances that we'll see the other car.


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