September 27, 2014

"Leaving you with a big mess. Do your best to move on quickly from me please."

Last Facebook message of Brian Howard, accused of setting the fire that messed up air travel in the Midwest yesterday.

Captured in the process of "actively slicing his throat."


MayBee said...


I'm surprised there is so little redundancy built into the system that one guy's suicide attempt can bring the midewest to a screeching halt.

rhhardin said...

I suppose VFR wasn't an option, in spite of it being a hugely clear day.

Pilots have lost the knack of using windows.

It used to be commonplace.

I used to share an airport with commercial airliners, no tower, no radio. It worked out okay.

People spaced themselves out properly.

David said...

1. I'm with Maybee. Why is the system so vulnerable?
2. At least he was not slicing someone else's throat.

Kelly said...

Amazing one lone idiot in Chicago could cause my husbands flight from Atlanta to Fort Wayne to be canceled. They couldn't get him out until Saturday evening, so he rented a car and drove the twelve hours so he could get home by 230 am, and get up at 8 to go to the Purdue Iowa game.

exhelodrvr1 said...

This is an example of why our system is so vulnerable to terrorist attacks - for efficiency they have removed/never installed a great deal of the redundancy that should be there. Water systems, power grids, communications networks, etc.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Sue Zuckerberg, he who profits.

Psota said...

The article says the guy was upset because he was being transferred to ... Hawaii! Oh the humanity!

Rusty said...

rhhardin. With a plane landing or taking off every 90 seconds the sky over northern Illinois is pretty crowded. There is a whole other tower at Ohare that is just to coordinate runway traffic.

It's in Aurora. About sixty miles from Chicago. It is surrounded by a 12 foot chain link fence with razor wire on top and a guard at the gate.

John Lynch said...

As Arthur Clarke said in 2001, no system can be made safe from deliberate sabotage.

The system is made secure by screening the people who work in air traffic control.

Trying to run a system assuming that someone will try to sabotage it is much more difficult, less efficient, and runs huge costs. Think of airport security. That's not how I want traffic control to work.

RLB_IV said...

Howard’s family declined to comment.

Well that is a relief so we don’t have to hear that he was such a wonderful man.

CWJ said...

Article says just over 2000 flights were canceled but only hundreds of passengers stranded in Chicago. Even taking into consideration that many passengers were stranded elsewhere, that's an odd flights/passengers ratio.

Jim said...

Would it be ok to talk about this suicide as a selfish act? Or are the Robin Williams rules still in effect?

Peter said...

"I suppose VFR wasn't an option, in spite of it being a hugely clear day. ... People spaced themselves out properly."

Increasing time between landings would work well enough if the destination airport were operating well below capacity, but how often is that the case at Midway and O'Hare?

If the destination airports are close to capacity then "People spacing themselves out properly" will mean lots of airplanes stuck in holding patterns. ATC mostly avoids that by keeping airliners on the ground until landing slots can be scheduled at the destination airports.

And mostly it works well. Passengers don't like delayed takeoffs, but waiting on the ground costs less (and is lower risk) than circling in the air while waiting to land at the destination airport.