Thursday, September 19, 2002

Pilot yelled, 'Brakes!' but they worked after crash

By The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — A pilot could be heard shouting “brakes, brakes!” just before the fatal crash involving a Learjet at Blue Grass Airport, according to a preliminary report by a government agency.

        Louise Babb, a longtime Lexington resident who had recently moved to Marco Island, Fla., died in the Aug. 30 accident involving a medical transport operated by Care Flight International. Four other passengers aboard the Florida-based air ambulance were injured. Only Mrs. Babb's husband, Jack Babb, remains in the hospital. He was in fair condition Wednesday at University of Kentucky Medical Center.

        The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot and co-pilot could not talk about the crash because of injuries they suffered in it. Care Flight earlier identified its crewmembers as chief flight nurse Diana Burgess and pilots Jim Hensel and Miles Lansing.

        Still, investigators found that one of the pilots keyed his microphone shortly before the plane left the runway and shouted, “Brakes, brakes!”

        It is unclear from the report which of the pilots made the statement.

        That, however, does not mean a brake failure caused the crash, said Michael Gobb, executive director of Blue Grass Airport.

        Mr. Gobb, who has read the report, said, “There isn't a clear indication about what exactly happened that day.”

        Mr. Gobb said preliminary reports generally offer a review of what happened but no insight into a cause. A final report could be a year in the making, he said.

        The NTSB report said that after the wreck, the plane's brakes were checked; they operated normally. The brake disc pads were also measured and found to be within accepted limits. The cockpit recorder showed no mechanical anomalies.


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