Timothy Cheney and Richard Cole, the pilot and co-pilot of NWA 188, are appealling their license revocations; in doing so, they reveal just how clueless and irresponsible they are. In papers filed on November 24 and made public yesterday, they placed the blame for the incident on the Air Traffic controllers who didn’t try hard enough to get their attention. According to a story on CNN.com, the pilots claim that:
The air traffic controller(s) did not comply with the requirements of the air traffic control manual and other relevant orders, rules, procedures, policies and practices with respect to Northwest Flight 188, nor coordinate effectively with Northwest dispatch, and such failure was a causal or contributing factor in the incident.
As The Atlantic’s Lane Wallace put it:
I’m not sure which is more outrageous, actually. To get so engrossed in your personal priorities that you don’t bother to ask, “gee, why is Center not calling us,” or glance at any of the navigation screens that show you fast approaching your destination, or notice any of the eight separate text messages your own dispatchers have sent you, accompanied by warning lights … in short, to not think for even one minute about actually flying the airplane … or to try to blame it on controllers who didn’t manage to yell at you loudly enough to get your distracted attention.
A completely bogus story about a heroic NASA scuba diver’s confrontation with eleven unruly Arabs in “full attire” on an Air Tran jet in Atlanta has been making the rounds of the right wing blogs (the gist of it is that TSA, the FAA, and the airline were so blinded by political correctness that they refused to acknowledge that they were terrorists on a “dry run,” testing the system for vulnerabilities–even after they called a flight attendant an “infidel dog” and openly viewed freshly filmed porn tapes, something that Muslims are only permitted to do before Jihad, the poster explains). Click here for Talking Point Memo’s amusing coverage (and debunkage) of the incident–the airline insists that the passenger missed his connection and wasn’t even on board the plane, that his story is a racist’s full-blown fantasy. But it’s hard to imagine that real Jihadists haven’t taken note of both the ex-NWA pilots’ lackadaisical attitude towards their responsibilities and their controllers’ blithe confidence that nothing more worrisome than a broken radio was responsible for their silence. NWA 188 raises all too real questions about how prepared we are for the next terrorist attack.