February 13th, 2009
09:39 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Fatal Flight

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/02/13/plane.crash.new.york/art.buffalo.crash1.bee.jpg caption="Only a few pieces of the Continental Connection Dash 8 turboprop were recognizable after the crash."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight, there are new details on the Continental Connection crash near Buffalo, New York.  NTSB investigators say the cockpit voice recorders show the crew noticed significant ice buildup on the planes windshield and wings just before it began pitching and rolling violently.  Moments later, 49 people on board were killed and one person in the house that the plane hit.  Amazingly, two people in the house survived. You'll hear from one of them tonight on AC360°.

Is the ice to blame for the crash? We'll talk it over with a former pilot.

We'll also have breaking developments tonight from Capitol Hill on the $787 billion stimulus plan. The final vote will be happening around 10:30pm ET. See if Democrats have enough votes for passage.

Do you think the plan will help you and your family?
We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Linda B., Ga.

    God Bless and Many thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones, last Thurs., night. Whatever caused the plane crash, will soon be determined. Today I heard that the AutoPilot was on, is that normal, under these circumstances?

    Now on the Stimulus that was approved. The GOP are the biggest bunch of cowards around. They should be ashamed of themselves. The ones like Lindsey (ahem) Graham and John McCain who were the biggest mouths of the group apparently don't think the good people of their states need financial assistance, of course maybe these men haven't been back to their respective states to check on things.

    I'm proud of Pres. Obama, he's at least trying to get our economy moving again!!!!

    February 15, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  2. TxRose

    My condolences to Karen Wielenski and daughter, Jill on the loss of husband & father, Doug. May he Rest in Peace in the comfort of our Lord's hands. And, may God sustain his family with strength and courage during the difficult days ahead.

    My apologies also, for not having extended my sympathy earlier-.
    Most of the news coverage has been so focused "on the cause" of the accident; and the mention of "no survivors". No excuses, but in my opinion, the media has been very irresponsible in not providing equal focus to the SURVIVORS.

    Not to disregard any loss of life, by any means- their stories are all inspirational and surely they will be missed by their family and friends.
    But, America- Let us REMEMBER and BE GRATEFUL that there are, IN FACT, TWO SURVIVORS in this horrible accident....Karen Wielenski and daughter, Jill. Godspeed.


    February 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Joe

    Thank you Anderson for your amazing talents ,professionalism and coverage of the Buffalo crash.

    I read that you literally rushed to cover this on -air. Thats dedication.

    A former Buffalonian I am troubled by alot of un-balanced coverage of the weather in Buffalo- as if THIS IS THE ISSUE> This is overall national coverage-not CNN.

    I agree ice is to blame- – but where is ICE not an issue in the Northeast when you fly?

    Its sad to see so many laugh and point to what they think is sad city with poor people and bad weather leading to "well- there you go".

    Ive blogged on this before. Im hoping that focus is on the incident and not the place.

    You should have read the New York Times today- horrible. In an article on the victims- they detailed the trip to Buffalo- their homes- as "not glamourous" and the destination "an aging Rust Belt City"

    While true- in some ways- who cares. Wheres the positive about the place?

    As if its some backwards DUMP.

    Awful stuff.

    Joe Barden
    Los Angeles

    February 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  4. Hannah

    I don't think the crash was because of the ice in Buffalo, or at leat that wasn"t all of it, because another plane made it safely there flying out of the same airport at about 7:30... Maybe the plane's steering wheel was stuck or something?


    I'm only 11 and fly a flight simulator...

    I love You!

    February 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm |
  5. Heather Ward

    As long as I can remember the agencies that investigated airline crashes and mishaps were the NTSB&FAA. I have not heard the FAA mentioned once. The only agencies that I have heard are investigating are NTSB&FBI. Why is this?

    February 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  6. TxRose

    John 3:16...For GOD so LOVED the World that HE gave HIS only begotten SON, that whoever believes in HIM shall not perish, but have Eternal Life. Rest in Peace, Crew & Passengers of Continental Flight 3407.

    To the Families and Loved ones of every person on board...Your loved ones' work on Earth is done; they have been called to a Higher place where they shall carry on with the Lord's work. May your Faith sustain you, until you meet again.

    February 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  7. Larry L.

    Do you think the plan will help you and your family?
    We’d love to hear your thoughts.

    The debt load we are taking on will hurt future generations for decades as our currency is diminished against all other currencies of the world, making our country's exports worth far less, while making all imports (including oil and cars) far more expensive for all of us. With Social Security estimated to go negative in 2017, our country is facing bankruptcy.

    February 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  8. VEE


    February 14, 2009 at 2:33 am |
  9. jason

    Makes you look a life in a different way...My thoughts go out to all the families and friends involved. If its Ice that caused the crash, what made this situation so much different than all the other similar weather conditions that occur in the air?

    February 14, 2009 at 2:21 am |
  10. Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure

    My family and I knew Alison Des Forges, and she was our friend. In her death I'm also losing a colleague who served as external reader for my doctoral dissertation at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was an astute intellectual and staunch activist for human rights around around the world, particularly in Rwanda.

    Our prayers of support go to her family.

    We will miss her.

    February 14, 2009 at 2:20 am |
  11. Chris

    Like many other fellow airline employees, I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in last night's crash. I think what makes it even harder is that we are coming off of two major airline crashes where all aboard survived.
    The Continental crash in Denver right before Christmas and the now famous USAirways Crash in the NYC. What everyone has to understand is that flying is still very safe and that we learn a lot from all accidents and that in turn makes future flying even safer for others. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those lost in the crash.
    Thank you.

    February 14, 2009 at 1:40 am |
  12. Darlene Griscowsky

    Hi Anderson,

    Just wanted to thank your guest tonite, it was the most information that was feasible and believable. I especially appreciate that you do not attemp to sensationalize such a tragic event..


    February 14, 2009 at 1:37 am |
  13. Bobbie /Canada

    Let me say first my thoughts are with the families of the plane crash
    as ex military search and rescue I know what the families are
    feeling such sorrow and wondering why? Let me say there is no why
    answer. After 30 years and more crashes then I want to think about
    I have never found out why. I have lost both military and civie friends
    in crashes and my advice is talk about the person and the good times
    u had. And if needed seek professional help.

    Thank you for the chance to send this message

    February 14, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  14. debbie

    my thoughts and prays goes out to all who have lost loved ones in this tragic event. small planes like this should not fly in these conditions bigger planes offten cancel flights due to these conditions

    February 14, 2009 at 1:18 am |
  15. Donny

    I don't know why it's so difficult for the media to report aviation stories accurately. As soon as the NTSB released the FDR data this afternoon, every professional pilot in the country had a very good idea of what happened. While we have to wait for the investigation to conclude to be sure, we all feel in our guts that the problem was ice on the tail. If you want to report accurately, take look at tailplane stalls and quit talking about the wings or the weight of the ice. Who are these "experts" you have on the show?

    February 14, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  16. richard d antone

    hello anderson can you please let all those folks who lost loved ones that my heart and prayers go out to them that was a fiery crash last night i saw it after it had crashed i watch your show every night and i watch the cnn news every day as well thanks anderson richard d of burlington vermont

    February 14, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  17. Bruce Mackenzie

    As a former investigator for the US Navy and drawing on 2300 hours of turboprop time and another 5000 hours of commecial jet time, it is very likely the aircraft spun in as a result of wing icing and turning on to final. I am writing this because I found Anderson Cooper's airline pilot "expert" to be quite uneducated about the guesses to the cause, and in fact made some flagrant misleading statements about the cause. Specifically, claiming that one wing can get more iced than the other something that I've never, ever seen as a pilot–it's always symetrical. I think even if a pilot tried to get one wing iced and not the other you would fail! Secondly, in response to eyewitness accounts that the engines sounded different, he claimed the icing could have caused that as a result of buildup. Maybe, but not likely. The engines are well heated and I've never had an engine pulsate on me due to icing, and I've been in many icing situations. Even if you forgot to turn on the engine anti-ice, they would not pulsate to an amount someone on the ground noticed let alone knock you out of the sky.

    So let's take a view of a professional aircraft investigator's takes: Viewing the photos and reports of the mishap, I can see the crash area was a circular pattern. This in indicative of a high crash angle, otherwise it would be fan shaped. Also, most of the recovered parts of the aircraft are big, indicative of a low speed impact–one less than 300 knots; this rules out crash dive scenario. Furthermore, I can see that the tail is intact and bending to the right. This is a classic indication of a left spin–the inertia carries the tail outward from the direction of spin, and it likely hit last so it remains fairly intact. One last bit of information gathered from the witnesses tonight was that the plane's engines made a pulsing sound, different from normal. I hypothesize this was due to the aircraft spinning and different aspects being presented to the witnesses, NOT from failing engines.

    Considering that the plane was turning on to final approach line up with the runway, the left wing was down. Upon rolling level from this turn, it requires the left wing to create more lift as you roll back to level flight. If iced up and coupled with a flap change, it could easily demand too much for the air to continue over top of that wing. This would quickly create what is known as an accelerated stall. With the left wing stalled it would send the aircraft into a left spin, because the right wing is still creating lift. At 2000 feet above the ground, it is unlikely for any aircrew to recover. We had an instance in our squadron where a turboprop entered a spin accidentally and it took 6,000 feet to recover, from 8,000 to 2,000.

    Reasons for the icing to go undetected are for the NTSB to discover, but I can tell you from first hand experience that at night it is tough to tell how much buildup you have. Almost all of the manuals for planes w/ deicing boots say to let the ice build up to about an inch before blowing them to ensure the ice cracks and blows away. This is to prevent ice blowing back and reforming on the top of the wing near the leading edge. Perhaps they waited too long, perhaps they never realized it they had ice, again the NTSB will determine this. But I am about 98% certain the aircraft went into a spin, and icing would be the most likely thing to instigate it. That is what the current facts suggest.

    February 14, 2009 at 12:44 am |
  18. Melanie

    I am not able to find the correct blog topic to place my post under – please forgive me. I would appreciate it if you would relay this to Anderson: I would like to know if he is interested in helping (not financially!) a neighborhood on Staten Island save a home that was once owned by his family – The Vanderbilts. Through my research, I've found that the home (currently known as The Swedish Home for the Aged) was built by Cornelius for his daughter, Mary, as a wedding gift. The home was purchased (from the Vanderbilt family) around 1910 and has been a historical landmark for our community since. Unfortunately, it is no longer inhabited as the current owner deserted the residents forcing them off the premises because he owes taxes. Now, the beautiful grounds and buildings are left to weather and this fate saddens the neighbors. We do not want this home, a full block where the home sits, to be torn down and turned into 20+ new homes, as the Island is so infamous for. Please help us preserve history and help those displaced retired Swedish folks who lost all their savings return to their retirement home. Anything you, Anderson, are willing to do to help would be greatly appreciated!
    I hope you, moderator, will find the appropriate place for this post – preferably straight to Anderson's desk 🙂

    Yes, please contact me for further info on this home if need.
    Thank you

    February 13, 2009 at 11:38 pm |
  19. Alexis

    My son was flying home last night after a business trip to CA. His flight out of Cleveland was delayed but finally left & landed in Jamestown NY around 9:00 p.m. It had been a rough trip during the last 20 minutes of the flight & the landing was also rough. There was a problem w/ice, causing the pilot some anxiety. The plane was to go on to Bradford PA where my son had flown out of the first of the wk. The plane was grounded due to conditions & the underbelly of the plane was covered in ice. He spent the night w/friends in Jamestown. How thankful we are that his plane landed safely, it could so easily have had another ending.

    February 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  20. Chris Reulbach - San Diego

    Why haven't the airplane manufacturers (Boeing, etc) figured out how to heat the wings using the engine heat or electrical power to keep them from icing? Surely I'm not the first one to think of this!

    February 13, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  21. KIm

    The concern is two planes down and we're in an economic crunch and we all realize our airlines have taken their own financial hits. Do we have a connection and are financial issues cutting corners that place safety issues in concern ? Does the airline have enough ground help or have they cut back like everyone else ? Is there a solution sprayed on a plane to de-ice in bad weather ? What safety measures are taken in cold weather before a plane takes off ?

    February 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  22. Jeanne

    most Americans are extremely upset that this bill was enacted without the transparency that Obama promised us; it is a sham to argue the financial crisis was so severe and needed such immediate relief that it would not allow for a simple 48 hour period to read carefully all of the last-minute additions and pork that was crammed into it in closed conference; the President had only one real reason to jam the bill through with no review or study: to prevent Americans from vociferously protesting, from expressing that they are outraged that in the guise of a job-generating stimulus, the democrats have loaded this legislation with pork-filled special-interest exorbitant spending projects they have been planning for years - fish hatcheries, light rail from LA to Las Vegas, indeed!!

    February 13, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  23. Archie

    if the repul.hate the president stimulus bill so much why didn,t they come up with one last november?

    February 13, 2009 at 10:59 pm |
  24. Jeanne

    most Americans are extremely upset that this bill was enacted without the transparency that Obama promised us; it is a sham to argue the financial crisis was so severe and needed such immediate relief that it would not allow for a simple 48 hour period to read carefully all of the last-minute additions and pork that was crammed into it in closed conference; the President had only one real reason to jam the bill through with no review or study: to prevent Americans from vociferously protesting, from expressing that they are mad as hell that in the guise of a job-generating stimulus, the democrats have loaded this legislation with pork-filled special-interest exorbitant spending projects they have been planning for years - fish hatcheries, light rail from LA to Las Vegas, indeed!!

    February 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  25. Vili

    My heart and prayers goes out to all those who've lost their loved ones in this tragic event.

    February 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  26. penelope, philadelphia,pa

    My heart goes out to the families. This is really a tragedy.

    February 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  27. Pam

    How sad for those who have suffered a loss. I believe "If he brings you to it, he'll bring you through it." May God bless you.

    February 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  28. Annie Kate

    No, I don't think the plan will help my family but we are probably not as much in need as others. Besides we're used to being poor – we wouldn't know how to act if we weren't poor.

    The air crash is such a horrendous tragedy for the families the victims leave behind. For me I am finding it hard to grasp this crash and the landing of Captain Sully's plane in the Hudson – both planes in trouble and one lands safely and the other does not. I feel so bad for the famlies and my thoughts are with them.

    February 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  29. carol kesling

    my thoughts & prayers are with all the families that are involved in this tragety!!!!!!!!!!! these small planes should not fly in these conditions, even the big planes cancel when there are icing problems !!! this is trully sad ..........

    February 13, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  30. jake

    As a lifelong buffalonian last nights event shows just how wonderful our comunity is. People say that in the wake of tragedy you get the best out of people. We in buffalo experience this kindness, loyalty and compassion everyday. We will get through this and come out even stronger. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who've lost loved ones in this tragic event.

    February 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm |