Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Was Wellstone Murdered?

emptywheel asks the same question in her post,Wellstone Accused of Voter Fraud, Threatened with Death, Day before His Plane Crash.

I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories, but Wellstone's crash shortly before an election has always aroused my suspicions. There are undoubtedly people who play hardball out there, and it's sad to contemplate even the possibility that one of the best we ever had in the Senate... and his family... were murdered. But emptywheel has done a lot of investigative reporting of several genuine scandals, and I can't dismiss out-of-hand the possibility of Wellstone's being murdered. There was undoubtedly at least one threatening note, but those are probably fairly common.

While you're reading emptywheel's post, be sure to read comment #66 by rikkidoglake on NTSB's report on the crash. The comment also contains a link to a .pdf of the report itself, if you don't mind downloading 3mb and if you can comprehend the report. I'd be interested to read what any professional pilots out there have to say about it.

(Some editing after initial posting. - SB)

UPDATE: I've just skimmed the NTSB report. It looks to my untrained eye as if NTSB determined the accident to be due to pilot error.


  1. No one ever paid me to fly the plane, but I've done it and the report does conclude pilot error.

    If you read the profiles of the pilot and copilot you come to the conclusion that the pilot was in the habit of letting the copilot fly the aircraft most of the time, and that this particular copilot had a habit of poor throttle control on landing.

    The speed readings from the radar for this flight indicate that the aircraft was too fast when it reached the approach and overshot it, and then slowed too much to compensate.

    The last airspeed reading was 76 knots and the stall alarm goes off below 85 knots on this aircraft.

    The gear and flaps were extended for landing, but the aircrew did not apparently increase power sufficiently to maintain flying speed, above 85 knots. The plane dropped like a rock.

    There was probably some icing, but it wouldn't have been a problem with the power available on that aircraft, even if the de-icing system failed.

    The crash debris pattern is consistent with a stall and there is no indication of an emergency by the pilots, nor evidence of an explosion.

    Pilot error - bad throttle control on landing. The worse thing about this report is that the copilot had been cited for the problem multiple times and was still in the cockpit.

  2. Bryan, thanks. It's hard for me to imagine a commercial (co)pilot not understanding about the minimum speed necessary to stay aloft... hell, even I know it, and that's just from flying control-line model planes when I was a kid... but I suppose anything is possible.

    I really miss Paul Wellstone. They truly don't make 'em like him anymore.

    CAPTCHA text: "const". I've typed that string a few times in my life!



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