May 12th, 2009
02:28 PM ET

Screams, 'We're down,' recorded in cockpit of crashing plane

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the plane crash from Randi Kaye on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/12/buffalo.crash.hearing/art.buffalo.crash.afp.gi.jpg caption="An investigator walks past the wreckage from a plane crash in Clarence Center, New York, in February."]


The pilot of a doomed plane that crashed, killing 50 people, said "Jesus Christ" and "We're down," seconds before the plane hurtled from the night sky into a house outside Buffalo, New York, in February.

The last sounds heard in the cockpit were First Officer Rebecca Shaw saying "We're" and then screaming at 10:16 p.m. on February 12, according to a transcript of the cockpit recording.

Seconds earlier, the pilot, Capt. Marvin Renslow, said, "Jesus Christ," as a sound "similar to stick shaker" was heard, the transcript said. Renslow said, "We're down," and a thump was heard before Shaw said, "We're" and screamed.

The National Transportation Safety Board released the transcript of the cockpit recording on Tuesday as it began a three-day hearing in Washington on the crash.

Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by regional carrier Colgan Air, plunged into a house in Clarence Center, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one man in the house.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Marc Frank

    Being a survivor of a plane crash that went down from gross pilot error. ( Lynyrd Skynyrd 1977) I know just how they felt. We lost power at 6000 feet and piled into 80 foot pine trees, for 495 feet until we broke apart. Their is not a worst feeling or just rage ,knowing you had pilots that were so unprepared. I knew that was pilot error from the first time i saw it on TV.

    May 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm |
  2. Jim M

    The article indicates that the pilot Renslow had failed five pilot tests, three before joining the airline – which implies that two failed tests were after he had joined Colgan Air.

    Point 1: These "check rides" are given for each air certificate a pilot achieves. Single engine – a "check ride;" multi engine – a "check ride;" instrument rating – another "check ride;" etc.

    Point 2: "check rides" include a ground review including specific aircraft systesm, and other knowledge; as well as a flight test which involves knowledge of a number of issues including how to handle: stalls; recovery from unusual flight attitude; and, simulated emergencies.

    It would be helpful if the article was more specific as to what the failed tests were.

    May 12, 2009 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    It sounds like a horrifying last few seconds. I feel for the family members who will hear their loved ones' voices for the last time on this tape – I had hoped that the people on the plane didn't have time to realize what happened and perhaps the passengers didn't but the crew certainly knew. Terrible awful end....

    May 12, 2009 at 5:45 pm |