When An Airplane Falls Upon Our Heads: How We React In Emergencies

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Pablo Edronkin

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It is amazing to see how people react when confronted with a sudden accident or survival situation; many times calmness in the face of absolute disaster seems to be the rule, but is it true calmness or something else?

I often fly from San Fernando International Airport (SADF,) a business airfield located about fifteen kilometres from my home. If you take off from runway 23 or 05, a few seconds afterwards you are at 1.000 ft. leaving its airspace, and if you fly westwards, in about three minutes you will be on the vertical of my swimming pool because here is a VOR station at the airport and another one in another airport, a military one, about two km away. So aircraft often hop from one to another to leave behind Buenos Aires as soon as possible. Inveitably, air crashes do happen from time to time.

If you are really unlucky, you will have to return to the airport because the instrument panel in your plane tells you that something is not quite right, and only if you are very, very unlucky, you will have to land in the few green, suitable spaces in the area because returning would probably be more dangerous. But if you are very, very, very unlucky, you will crash, and that's exactly what happened to LV-MYX, a PA-31 Piper Navajo that took off a few days ago and went into a dive, almost hitting a gas station. The causes of the accident are still unknown but it seem that the airplane suffered a problem in one of its engines, stalled, went into an irrecoverable spin and hit the ground, crushing two trucks in a parking lot. Everyone in the plane died, but no one in the station or the parking was hurt.

The whole event was recorded on a CCTV camera located on a lamp post near the gas station. You should watch the video that I have embedded into this article, not because seeing accidents is fun but on the contrary, to watch how people in the ground react. Aside from a few individuals that run to the accident scene in order to save people - witnesses said that at leas one occupant of the machine was seen trapped, trying to get out -, others remain calm. Cars leave the gas pumps as if nothing happens while some pedestrians just go around their own businesses early in the morning.

It is impossible that they didn't notice the noise that comes with every air crash, or the fireball. A huge fire erupted in the lot as the plane, its fuel and the trucks burned before eight fire brigades reached the place, and they were in a gas station; quite a flammable place indeed.

Was this the product of calmness, indifference, lack of information or what?

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