Jeanette Symons sits in cockpit  of her Cessana Citation C-525 last summer at the Steamboat Springs airport. Symons normally used the plane to commute between Steamboat Springs residence and another home in San Francisco.

file photo

Jeanette Symons sits in cockpit of her Cessana Citation C-525 last summer at the Steamboat Springs airport. Symons normally used the plane to commute between Steamboat Springs residence and another home in San Francisco.

Steamboat woman, son killed in jet crash

Jeanette Symons was a veteran pilot and innovative engineer

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file photo

Jeanette Symons and her daughter Jennie pose in front of her Cessna Citation C-525 business jet last summer at Steamboat Springs Airport. Symons and her family typically used the plane to commute between Steamboat Springs and San Francisco. Jennie was not on the plane when it crashed in Maine.

— A Steamboat Springs woman and her son were killed Friday when the woman's private jet crashed shortly after take-off near Augusta, Maine.

Jeanette Symons, 45, was a mother of two who lived in Steamboat Springs for about 18 months. She regularly flew her jet to and from the San Francisco area, where she had an extraordinarily successful career in the electronics and telecommunications industries.

Traveling with her son Balan, 10, Symons took off from Augusta State Airport at 5:45 p.m. Friday, en route to Lincoln, Neb. Contacting a flight controller in Portland, Maine, Symons reported an emergency when the jet's altitude was only about 3,000 feet. She cited a problem with the attitude indicator, which measures the jet's nose in relation to the horizon, and the banking angle of the wings.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said Symons was unable to fly to safety. Rescue workers located the wreckage in a remote, heavily wooded area south of Augusta just before 6:30 p.m., according to the Kennebec Journal, a Maine newspaper.

Symons' 7-year-old daughter, Jennie, was not involved in Friday's tragedy.

Local pilot Bob Maddox, who is the owner of Mountain Flight Services and hangared Symons' jet at Steamboat Springs Airport, said Symons' Cessna Citation C-525 likely reached 3,000 feet in about 15 seconds.

"She didn't have much time to deal with whatever the problem was," Maddox said. "It sounds like the weather she took off in may have created an ice problem."

William Perry is the president and owner of Maine Instrument Flight, which operates Augusta State Airport. Perry said despite heavy sleet and freezing rain Friday night, Symons declined to have her jet de-iced before takeoff.

"She said she didn't need it," Perry said Saturday. "She declined the de-icing and off she went. : Presumably, she would have done a pre-flight and known she was covered in ice. Every car in the parking lot was covered in ice. :We just can't begin to understand why this happened."

Chain reaction

Perry said there were other odd circumstances before Symons took off.

"She was parked in a normal parking area, then she turned 90 degrees from the way she was supposed to be going and went across the field and through a ditch," he said. "(She) propelled the aircraft just blasting the engines to get through the ditch : and took kind of a meandering route to the end of the runway."

Perry said there was "absolutely no indication of any impairment" such as alcohol.

"She just seemed to be anxious to go," he said. "It's very odd - our guys couldn't believe it."

Symons had owned the Cessna for more than three years, flew it year-round and had about 15 years of aviation experience.

"She was a qualified, rated and highly experienced pilot," Maddox said.

Don Heineman, a flight instructor and fixed-base operations manager at Steamboat Springs Airport, also spoke highly of Symons.

"All the times I saw her fly, I always thought she must be a very good pilot," he said. "I always wanted to take a ride with her. I think she was an excellent pilot and a very sharp lady. To me, she was very impressive."

Heineman noted that Symons' Cessna had heated wings.

"I think that she probably felt that she could climb up through (the weather)," he said. "She must have felt like the airplane was OK to fly."

Heineman speculated that mechanical failures or a "deep stall," in which the wings block air going over the jet's elevator, could have contributed to the crash.

"When things happen like that, it's never just one thing. It's always a chain of events," he said. "She was just a peach of a lady. I'm going to miss her."

'Blanket of stars'

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Symons was a UCLA-trained engineer and part of several Bay Area electronics firms. She was a co-founder of Ascend Communications, which made Internet equipment and was purchased by Lucent Technologies for $24 billion in 1999. Symons then co-founded Zhone Technologies, an Oakland telecommunications company.

Her two children inspired her to start yet another company, Industrious Kid, an online, content-safe social networking site for children.

Her children also inspired her move to Steamboat, where she was drawn to the friendly community and home-schooled her children while commuting to California in the Cessna.

"As far as the kids are concerned, this is the minivan," Symons said of her jet while speaking to the Steamboat Pilot & Today last summer.

Symons said in her mind, nothing beat flying at night during the winter.

"It's a blanket of stars with the Milky Way over you," she said. "It's like nothing you've ever seen."

Tim Donovan, a co-founder and vice president of marketing for Industrious Kid, told the Chronicle that Symons was in Maine attending a weeklong ski camp with her son.

Perry said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Friday's crash and likely will take several months to file a report.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

solman 6 years, 2 months ago

i send my luv and blessings to lil sister jennie and the rest of the family... much peace and luv weve had a tough beginning of the year steamboat-- lets luv each other while we can!!!

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sfbayarea 6 years, 2 months ago

Correction:

She was a co-founder of Ascend Communications, which made Internet equipment and was purchased by Lucent Technology for $24 Billion (not 20 million) in 1999.

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Margaret 6 years, 2 months ago

This story has haunted me since I heard of the crash on Friday. When I learned more of Jeanette's story, I was deeply saddened. She seemed to be a vibrant and intelligent young lady, full of life, who had given much and, undoubtedly, had much more to give. It is so very tragic that her young daughter is left behind without a mother or her brother. My heart goes out to her remaining family. Thomaston, Maine

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

I found my own airplane covered in ice one morning before sunrise in Winslow, Arizona. Lacking any other means of de-icing, I spent two hours going over the wings, windshield, etc., with my American Express card while the sun also came up and helped the process along. My passengers griped about my concerns, citing the fact that, "a little bit of ice can't cause any trouble."

Turns out, yeah, a little bit of ice can cause trouble.

Tragically, this poor woman has joined the ranks of John Denver, John F. Kennedy Jr., Wiley Post and Will Rodgers, Patsy Cline, and so many others whose success and personal wealth led to their deaths in privately owned airplanes.

A faulty attitude indicator would not have killed a professional pilot unless the pitot static system (providing air to the altimeter and airpseed indicator) was also blocked with ice.

The measure of a pilot is what they can do when things go wrong. People who have enough money to buy an airplane they can't handle in an emergency have been killing themselves in this manner for decades. It's truly sad, and I send my condolences to her family, but those of us left alive need to take away the lesson that complacency about the weather, maintenance, alcohol consumption, drug use, and any other factor that might affect a pilot or an airplane regularly lead to this kind of tragedy. It's usually the first time people have gotten into such an emergency, because nobody who survived such a situation would do it twice.

The bottom line for everyone should be, NEVER GET IN AN AIRPLANE with a pilot who doesn't make their living at it when the weather is bad. Taking off with ice on the airplane is suicide.

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elphaba 6 years, 2 months ago

It is regrettable that anyone feels it necessary to pontificate on a situation of which they have no personal knowledge. (I don't believe you were in Maine IDO4.) You should simply stop and reflect that you have perhaps been the beneficiary of extraordinary good luck and be thankful for that. Let this tragedy go by without your unnecessary comments.

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ffv 6 years, 2 months ago

Reflecting on this tragedy in a town that celebrates the athlete, little did we know that someone who truly helped change the world lived amongst us. Jeanette's company, Ascend, which she co-founded, developed a product that helped the Internet revolution to take off and be available to the masses. That said, her quiet unassuming nature, love for her children and willingness to help out showed her true brilliance.

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tomcat 6 years, 2 months ago

I live a couple of miles from where Ms Symons' plane went down, and I have felt tremendous heartache about this accident since 5:55 p.m. local time Friday, when I learned that her plane had crashed into the woods at the end of our road. The members of our community feel devestated about this tragedy. By all accounts, Ms Symons was a gracious, unassuming and extraordinarily bright woman who dearly loved her children. On behalf of the folks in Gardiner and Augusta, Maine, I send my heartfelt sympathy to Ms Symons' family, friends and business associates. It seems that the world has lost a beautiful soul.

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marchitect 6 years, 2 months ago

If it is true that this woman took off with sleet in the air, then it is nothing short of brazen and foolish. It cost her innocent child it's life. Please don't criticize those who point this out. My sympathies to her family and loved ones.

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

elphaba,

Why don't we try to save the next one instead of glossing over the facts of the current event?

After researching some other news sources, it seems frivolous to call this incident a "tragic accident."

Here's what the guy who did airplane business with her in Maine said about the accident:

"William Perry is the president and owner of Maine Instrument Flight, which operates Augusta State Airport. Perry said despite heavy sleet and freezing rain Friday night, Symons declined to have her jet de-iced before takeoff.

"She said she didn't need it," Perry said Saturday. "She declined the de-icing and off she went. : Presumably, she would have done a pre-flight and known she was covered in ice. Every car in the parking lot was covered in ice. :We just can't begin to understand why this happened."

Perry said there were other odd circumstances before Symons took off.

"She was parked in a normal parking area, then she turned 90 degrees from the way she was supposed to be going and went across the field and through a ditch," he said. "(She) propelled the aircraft just blasting the engines to get through the ditch : and took kind of a meandering route to the end of the runway."

Perry said there was "absolutely no indication of any impairment" such as alcohol.

"She just seemed to be anxious to go," he said. "It's very odd - our guys couldn't believe it."

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm . . .

After looking at the photo a bit more closely, it seems like this jet was flown out of the Steamboat airport rather than YVRA. Can anyone confirm this?

Can't help noticing that she was putting her new business into operation in California rather than in Steamboat where people are clamoring for better jobs for locals. And we keep our little airport open for the convenience of folks who could do something for their new home town, but just don't? Wonder why that is? Oh, probably because it's more profitable to do business elsewhere. That ought to tell our local officials something about courting the rich folks rather than the ones who make it a nice place for rich folks to live, huh?

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MaineMan 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, I live in Maine in Gardiner about 5 miles from the crash site. At the time of the crash I was driving from my office in Augusta to Gardiner, on the ground in approximately the same path as the aircraft flying above me. I did not hear or see the aircraft and only learned of the crash later. Driving conditions were horrid. All schools and many businesses closed earlier in the day in anticipation of a nasty storm. The temperature had dropped and a combination of freezing rain, sleet and moisture-laden air on cold surfaces created severe icing and poor visibility. No doubt had she been able to climb to cruising altitude she would have been fine. Things go south rapidly in Maine weather. My prayers are with the family and loved ones.

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Brent Boyer 6 years, 2 months ago

The online version of the story has been corrected to reflect the accurate purchase price of Ascend Communications by Lucent Technologies in 1999. The transaction was $24 billion, not $20 million. The Pilot & Today regrets the error.

Brent Boyer Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221 bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 2 months ago

I to flew my own plane for some years, stories like these really shake me up, I was a mediocre pilot, but diligent to a fault over the weather, Cameron pass tought me that. when you stop to calculate how much even a slight coat of ice can weigh when it covers the mass of a plane, she knew that, I can't imagine she would be that careless, something else had to fail. I am so sorry for everybody, God bless all.......

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TimParish 6 years, 2 months ago

This truly is a tragic accident. Out of respect for the family, any comments to the contrary should be withheld pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations. Ms. Symons was a delightful lady. She did primarily use the Steamboat Springs airport, but occasionaly would use YVRA if the weather was too bad at Steamboat. She came into YVRA just a couple of weeks ago. We will miss her occasional visits. My prayers are with her daughter Jennie.

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SkyKing 6 years, 2 months ago

First of all, condolences to the Symons family and friends.

I live in Maine and I have been flying planes for some 30 years. This accident has moved many of us in the flying community because it is so inexplicable from the information we have been provided with.

It appears that Ms. Symons has been flying for over ten years if not more and had acquired the proficiency to fly a jet aircraft, no mean feat in itself.

As I understand it, she had lived in Steamboat Springs for around three years, so she certainly had experience in flying in winter conditions from a small airport. Those that knew her there describe her as careful and a talented and experienced pilot.

The aircraft she was flying is well equipped to handle in flight icing conditions up to a certain point. What that point is, I am not aware.

One presumes she pre-flighted the aircraft thoroughly before starting the engines. Her declination of having the plane deiced indicates she saw no reason to do so, yet cars in the parking lot were ice covered.

I know Earl Perry. He and his operation are top notch. They would not have offered deicing unless they thought conditions might call for it.

I assume she got a weather briefing from the FAA office on the grounds before filing her flight plan.

Mr. Perry describes two things that are of concern. The first was that "she seemed very anxious to go...our guys couldn't believe it" (that she would not use deicer).

The second was the erratic route she took to the active runway. The taxiways at Augusta are well marked and well lighted.

Being in a hurry to leave in order to get going with a flight is a one way to start building to a problem. I suspect that much of her experience in the Citation has been relatively long flights, using auto pilots with active piloting on landing and take off and making corrections in direction as called for by ATC.

What is clear from investigations of other accidents is that when things start to go wrong, it is seldom one thing which causes the problem. It is a series of things and suddenly the pilot is in unfamiliar territory. In her case, she was in bad weather (so bad that she was the only private aircraft to leave the airport that day), she at some point called an emergency indicating her attitude indicator was malfunctioning (she may have been dealing with it in silence before her radio call) and shortly thereafter the plane plunged to earth.

Disorientation is possible given what we know. So are other things. It is in the nature of pilots to discuss these things when they happen. Not to lay blame, but to learn, to try and understand how bad things happen to good people.

Months from now we will hopefully be told. Whatever the lesson to be learned from the tragedy, it will not bring Ms. Symons or her son back to their family. However, perhaps, just perhaps, it will help some other pilot facing a similar situation to land safely.

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colowoodsman 6 years, 2 months ago

I remember a plane that took off from the Stbt. airport and crashed into a bunch of propane tanks that were stored at the intersection of Hwy 40 and Elk River Rd. I belive the cause was a cargo door that was not properly latched. There were no survivors.

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

I spent 12 years as an active Navy pilot. I also experienced unforecast icing one evening when the aircraft was in a configuration that made it particularly vulnerable to engine intake icing. We were able to descend to warmer air before anything happened, but something similar had happened to another aircraft of the same type several years earlier that resulted in a dual engine failure and loss of the aircraft. The fact that I knew about the earlier accident left me without a doubt of what to do when it happened to me.

This is how aviators learn about dangerous events and pass along the stories to save others. It's part of the culture.

The fact that Ms. Symons was the only pilot to take off that day from that airport really tells the tale. Urgency is a killer, as we know around here from our air medical evacuation accidents. Sometimes, you just shouldn't go.

We can't save her or her son. The best thing we can do in their memory is make sure that others hear about the incident so that maybe they will be more careful.

One of the most dangerous things you can be is an overconfident pilot. John F. Kennedy, Jr., is another excellent example of someone who exceeded his own limitations and died as a result.

What was so important that Ms. Symons was in such a hurry? I guess we'll find out some day, but the lesson is in what happened when urgency overcame sound piloting judgment.

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MaineMan 6 years, 2 months ago

The weather here in central Maine was weird all day Friday. Gardiner schools were closed at 10:00 a.m. although precipitation did not actually begin until nearly 4:00 p.m. in Augusta. People were talking about the schools being premature about closing. The air was cold and moist all day long. Perhaps this woman did not really expect things were going to get so nasty. By 5:00 p.m. in Augusta the weather was unfit for man, beast, or machine.

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

Muddy,

In the Navy, there used to be a thing called the "Any Mouse" program which encouraged pilots to file an "anonymous" report of dumb things they had done and survived. Obviously, those who did dumb things and died did not file reports.

It used to be standard procedure, when a man died, to go through his personal effects in his stateroom and locker, etc., to remove anything that might upset the next of kin. For example, something as innocent as a credit card receipt for a hotel could tip off a widow that her hubby had been seeing a girlfriend when he supposedly "had the duty all weekend." Obviously, letters, photographs, etc., which were not from the known family were culled out and kept, in case the widow came back and asked, "Did you find the photo of his teenage daughter? She lives with her mother in Seattle . . . "

We once searched for a lost fisherman for two days after his wife reported him overdue. His boat was ultimately located sitting on its trailer in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where he was shacked up with his girlfriend. I don't know what the Florida Marine Patrol told his wife, but we called off the air search at that point.

You are looking at this incident in the wrong light, friend. This woman was not a victim. She was the wrongdoer in this situation. When people do evil and notorious things and the results become public, they are reported in the media. The concern for the family should have begun on the tarmac in Augusta with a decision to de-ice the airplane. That failure is at least one reason why this story is in the news. The outcome of this incident was 100% predictable.

While the newspapers reported that the woman declared an emergency due to a failure of her attitude gyro, it's more likely that the gyro was fine and that, in fact, the pitot-static system which feeds the airspeed, altimeter, etc., was blocked with ice, which caused the airspeed to read low. Decreasing airspeed is normally caused by pitching the nose of the aircraft up. Every pilot knows that you control airspeed with nose attitude, and you control the rate of climb and descent with engine power (the throttles).

If Ms. Symons thought her gyro was malfunctioning because the airspeed was reading low, but the gyro did not show increased nose up pitch, the natural reaction would be to drop the nose to increase airspeed. This fits the crash scenario to a tittle.

When the attitude gyro fails, military pilots are taught to fly "partial panel." You control airspeed by trimming your nose attitude, and control altitude with the throttle. Wings-level attitude is controlled by keeping the balance ball and rate of turn needle centered (i.e., no turn means wings level).

A pilot with Ms. Symons' experience should have been trained in partial panel operation, so that a failed gyro would not have caused a crash -- unless the pitot-static system was blocked with ice.

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SkyKing 6 years, 2 months ago

This aircraft had the ability to handle inflight icing conditions, such as heated boots on the leading edge of the wings and I believe the horizontal stabilizer as well as a heated pitot tube and other equipment.

Perhaps she thought if she turned all of that on she could eliminate the ice on the plane which could cause problems rather than go through the time it takes to deice an aircraft.

There is very little this "experienced" pilot did after arriving at Augusta which gives one comfort that she appreciated the situation she was drawing herself and her son into. No deice, poor preflight, failed to key the taxiway lights and runway lights, left the taxiway and went through a field and a ditch and simply continued to compound the problems until striking the ground.

About a mile from the airport is a very good motel with a top notch dining room called The Senator. Had she opted to spend the night, the next day was sunny and clear skies and we wouldn't be analyzing what went on.

Sorry if this discussion bothers you Mud. It's something that pilots do.

They won't be burying the remains any time real soon as the State Medical Examiner is identifying the bodies through DNA and that takes several days. A real pity.

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mud 6 years, 2 months ago

Its a shame that anytime a tragedy occurs, some self rightous pr%&k feels the need to use it as a way to boost their ego on the forum. My thouhts and prayers go out to the family.

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80488mom 6 years, 2 months ago

Mud: I've read all the commentary here with great interest. I can understand how you feel many of the comments from pilots are abrasive and out of place; however, being the mother of a son who is in the military and learning to fly I can appreciate how Ms. Symons tragic and untimely death can help facilitate lessons for those who are not experienced pilots and give them cause for thought. I think the pilots were trying to help us understand so that perhaps another life won't be lost. I do not think their intention was to be cruel.

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mud 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty confident that if someone had information that could save lives they would have no problem putting their name behind it. At least I would I would hope. Let the family put loved ones to rest w/o condemning the fallen.

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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

The lessons to be learned from this incident, if indeed the facts are as they have been reported, far outweigh any 'sensitivity' issues that concern some. We already suffer from an overdose of 'sensitivity' do's and don'ts in this country grouped under their more popularly known name of Political Correctness.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 2 months ago

it was stories like these that kept me alive as a pilot, flight school augmented by these tidbits from the real pilots gave me that edge of safety, tragedies like these always stir up reflections from the old timers and pros, you just have to listen, and take them seriously, and you still ache for those who were lost...........

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80488mom 6 years, 2 months ago

Condo - well stated piece of reality tempered with compassion. Thank you.

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elphaba 6 years, 2 months ago

ID04. It is good to have someone in the community who knows everything, has never made a mistake or had an uncontrollable misfortune or accident. You are also not burdened by any emotional baggage. There is a saying in aviation "God is my co-pilot" Usually I think the pilot saying that is in the wrong seat , but just maybe you are the exception. God could probably use some tips from you.

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80488mom 6 years, 2 months ago

This was a very tragic accident and quite possibly preventable. There are lessons to learn from any tragedy. Recently, there have been a few avalanche deaths and tree well deaths. In the same vein there have been lessons to learn from these as well. That doesn't lessen the heartache of those left behind but I'm sure their families can find some comfort in knowing that perhaps other families can be spared their pain and sorrow.

For those of you who are hurt from some comments by pilots please consider as pilots they have a duty and obligation to share their experience and knowledge with others so that future accidents can be prevented. I think Ms. Symons would have approved.

By all accounts Ms. Symons was a brilliant woman who made significant intellectual contributions to society. From what I've read she embraced life with abundant joy. She has truly earned her wings now and the world is a better place for her having walked among us.

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

pt22,

Take a number, friend. Watch out for elbows; you could lose an eye.

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jlkar 6 years, 2 months ago

To The Symons,

I am so sorry for your loss. Though I did not know Jeanette but a little, I had coached Balan on the freestyle team. He had a vivid imagination and a spice for livening things up. He was too young and had many more adventures ahead of him. My best to Jennie and may you all remember the good times you had together. Sincerely, Jackie Karolewski

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

elphaba,

Would you call two dead and one critically injured "no emotional baggage?" After I survived an avoidable air crash (caused by a mechanic's error) and faced the families of the dead, the desire to prevent more needless deaths and injuries seemed to be more important than anything else. Maybe I'm wrong. There; that's TWO!

Why don't you ask a willow tree why the universe decided to keep me around? Let me know what you find out.

I'll ask God when I see Him. That will be at a time of His choosing I suppose, because He has already tossed me back a couple of times.

The thing is, we can't do anything to bring back the dead ones. We might save a few live ones, even if we pi$$ a bunch of people off in the process.

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bilge12 6 years, 2 months ago

I live within the area of the crash. Something does not add up here. The weather was absolutely awful. All of her actions just dont add up. Theres a part to this that we dont know about yet

bill

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bobdc6 6 years, 2 months ago

d04sp,

The problem here is that while 100% correct, you are attempting to talk about safe basic instrument flying and accident prevention to non-pilots who are grieving for the loss of a friend and neighbor. Your comments will be more appreciated by "AOPA Pilot", "Flying", and "Aviation Week", publications widely read by pilots who learn from tragedies such as this.

Bob

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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

bobdc6, this is a public forum and all comments germane to the topic are encouraged. While sentiments expressing regret are to be expected, they lend nothing to the more important questions of why and how this crash could have happened. I find id04sp's input based on his flying experience much more informational and relevant to the incident than expressions of sympathy.

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runnerbikerdriver44 6 years, 2 months ago

I would like to thank brilliant minded people, like Jeanette, for creating blogs so people, who cannot help but be a**holes when someone dies, can express their opinions. I would like to remind everyone the papers, expert witnesses, and authors can often be wrong. What happens if the report comes out and says something went wrong which she had no control over? Where will everyone voicing their sometimes cold-hearted their opinions be then? Issuing a retraction, perhaps a big "I'm sorry for being so insensitive in this time of grieving?" Doubtful. Very doubtful.

I think it is important we learn from others' mistakes. I just think it's necessary to do so with a little sensitivity on a public forum, in a community where many are deeply affected by this.

In a town which claims to be so friendly, why is it at our most desperate moments we are so quick to judge and point fingers? Yes, Jeanette may very well have made a bad decision. But, in the end, wasn't she the one who paid the ultimate price? Don't try and tell me she didn't feel immense regret as the plane was going down.

Ultimately what this comes down to is being a decent human being in a time of struggle. Take from this what you will, but don't do it at the expense of upsetting others. Remember, you get to wake up tomorrow, tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and God willing, watch your children grow up. Jeanette and Balan no longer have this luxury.

My thoughts and prayers go out the the surviving family members.

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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

Look, if you want to display what a sensitive, caring grieving soul you are, go to the store, buy a Hallmark card suitable to the occasion and send it to the family. Quit whining and understand that there are just as many people who while sympathetic to the loss, are just as interested in the events leading up to the crash. I don't see this forum labelled FOR EXPRESSIONS OF SYMPATHY ONLY.Instead of venting your inability to come to terms with Death by whining at those who are more properly concerned with the event itself, try a hot bath and a cold beer.

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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

Another American died last week, not by accident but by his own choice. You didn't read about it in the paper or see it on television. So for those who care about the Deaths of All people, let's take a moment to celebrate a true American hero, Sgt. Robert James Miller:

Hundreds honor fallen Special Forces Soldier

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Courtesy of CJSOTF-A Public Affairs, Jan. 29, 2008)   Hundreds of U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coalition partners lined Bagram Airfield's main roadway and tarmac Jan. 27, to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert James Miller, of Company A, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Force Group (Airborne), was killed Jan. 25, by Taliban fighters while protecting his Operational Detachment Alpha teammates during combat operations near the village of Barikowt, Nari District, Konar Province, Afghanistan.

Miller and his team were supporting an Afghan Border Police and Coalition Forces security patrol in the Chenar Khar Valley near the Pakistan border when they were attacked.

A tactical vehicle carried Staff Sgt. Miller's flag-draped casket to the waiting U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.  As the vehicle passed, service members stood at attention and rendered a final salute to their fallen comrade; hundreds more soldiers lined the tarmac.  Soldiers from Special Operations Task Force 33 formed a cordon leading to the ramp as his brothers in arms serving as pallbearers escorted Staff Sgt. Miller's remains into the aircraft's empty cargo area.

U.S. Army Brigadier Gen. Joseph Votel, Deputy Commanding General for Operations, Joint Task Force 82; U.S. Army Col. Chris Haas, Commander, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force  Afghanistan and Commander, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne); and Lt. Col. Samuel Ashley, Commander, Special Operations Task Force 33, accompanied the escorts onto the aircraft to honor a fellow soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of his country.
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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

Miller was best remembered as a man who always had a smile and a 'can do' attitude. According to his teammates, he was always the first to volunteer for any task.

"Robby was the type of soldier that saw the hardships before him and stepped up to the challenge," Lt. Col. Ashley eulogized during a memorial ceremony, Jan. 28, at Bagram Airfield. "He understood the hazards of combat and the risks of his service to our nation.  He willingly bore the burden of the Soldier.  He was the epitome of the SF soldier.  He was a warrior among warriors."

U.S. Army Capt. John Bishop, of Special Operations Task Force 33, and Miller's former detachment commander also spoke at the ceremony. "He was always quick to volunteer and never thought it should be any other way.  On numerous occasions when the Detachment was faced with a difficult task, Robby would just stand up and say, 'I got this one, I'll do it, send me.'"

Jan. 25, Miller found himself willingly leading a team of Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition soldiers during a combat reconnaissance patrol in Konar Province, near the Pakistan border.  Insurgents hiding in a structure attacked Miller's team.  A fellow teammate called for close-air support to drop ordnance on the insurgent position, disrupting their attack.  When the combined patrol moved toward the structure to check for any remaining enemy threats, insurgents again fired using heavy weapons.

Miller's team captain was seriously wounded within the first minutes of the attack. While his commander was moved to safety, Miller returned fire. At great personal risk to himself, Miller remained at the front of the patrol and continued to lay down suppressive fire on multiple insurgent positions, allowing his wounded commander to be pulled out of the line of fire, ultimately saving his life.  Miller's personal courage under intense enemy fire enabled the entire patrol to gain cover and return fire.  Even while injured by direct enemy small arms and machine gun fire, Miller continued to employ his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and grenades to suppress enemy fire and protect his teammates.

He deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom from Aug. 2006 to March 2007.  During this deployment, Miller received two Army Commendation Medals for Valor for his courage under fire.

Miller returned to Afghanistan for his second tour in Oct. 2007, where he served as a Weapons Sergeant for his team.

Miller is survived by his parents and seven brothers and sisters.
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AAA 6 years, 2 months ago

Jeannette Symons was an extraordinary human being!! I knew her well,I have flown with her, and never felt unsafe.

I can assure you that everything she ever did was done in a meticulous manner.

I remember in one particular trip, the snow was so thick you could not even see out of the windows, she asked me," do you feel comfortable taking off, because if you don't we just stay and spend another night?" We did take off that day and never felt safer, she just eluded confidence.

She was an excellent pilot, and experience pilot, something went wrong, we are not sure what, making assumptions does not help anyone.

Jeannette was the most amazing person I have ever known, beautiful mind, she was humble, a quality that came from her parents, she was always so happy, she inspired my kids to do good in life, as I know she was an inspiration to many others.

I know in my heart that when good people die they become angels, and for sure the little one they left behind, Jeanie, will have two angels watching out for her from up above.

My condolence to the family and friends.

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id04sp 6 years, 2 months ago

If she had taken off in SNOW, she'd be alive.

There were plenty of people over there in Maine trying to stop her from leaving without deicing the plane.

The only thing she "eluded" that day was harming innocent people on the ground.

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Oscar 6 years, 2 months ago

I guess I will never understand why those of us that seek to analyze, understand, and learn from tragedies for the benefit of the living will always be labled as non-sympathetic and non-sensitive; and why the secret PC police among us are always snearing at those that they believe don't fit their mold of total political correctness.

Who was it that said that political correctness is the art of being able to pick up the clean end of a dog turd?

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omitch 6 years, 2 months ago

It seems to me that it is neither inappropriate nor without sympathy to ask why an otherwise brilliant woman who, by all accounts, was a meticulous pilot would attempt to fly in what can charitably be described as terrible weather. I live about ten miles from the crash site and can attest to the severity of the conditions late that afternoon.

Not one person I know around here has expressed anything but sympathy and deep sorrow for the tragic loss of two lives. That is a rarity among we curmudgeonly folks, I assure you. Nor have any of us questioned whether a mother would willfully place her son in jeopardy. It seems impossible that she would do so.

The mystery to us isn't as much how it happened as why she made the choices she made that afternoon. From the comments in this forum and others of those who actually knew and flew with her, these actions seem so out of character. We all hope that the pieces of the investigative puzzle provide some insight and lead to a plausible explanation.

May God bless their souls and give comfort to their grieving family, friends, and acquaintances.

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colowoodsman 6 years, 2 months ago

The first thing I leaned about flying was an old saying: 'There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.'

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cappel77 6 years, 2 months ago

Oscar

"Who was it that said that political correctness is the art of being able to pick up the clean end of a dog turd?"

Genius!

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freshair 6 years, 2 months ago

While we're on the subject of Relativity and Einstein, it is interesting to know what he thought about creation. Einstein recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. He firmly denied atheism and believed in a Creator who, in his own words, "reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." Einstein's famous statement on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice", and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

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mud 6 years, 2 months ago

What makes you think I was talking about you Id? there's nothing PC or not about jerking your own ego. I'm glad so many of you safe pilots get your safety training from anoymous posters. Is this really a safety issue? You all feel this is so important of a topic but doesn't get its own thread? The article is about lost life. I'm sure there are plenty forums for pilot talk out there.

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