I just wanted to take a moment to welcome all new members. I hope if you want to you will come back and comment when you can. Mark saw that documentary and also thought it was fascinating and was very impressed with the TSB and their efforts during the investigation of this terrible tragedy. He also of course found it very disturbing. He was very appreciative of the opportunity to have a chance to participate in the panel discussion. He particularly enjoyed meeting Jim Hall during the taping. Mark mentioned that during his trip he had an opportunity to speak with some of the investigators from the TSB and was impressed with their professionalism. I think he said he even had a chance to speak with the investigator that found the spot on the IFEN wiring suspected of being the initial event that led to the crash.
Eerie video diary resurrects Swissair tragedy
By ANDREW RYAN
Thursday, April 3, 2003 - Page R2
It's unfortunate but unavoidable: Most major tragedies just drift away from us. Doesn't matter if it's one lost life or thousands, we tend to forget.
We're only human. We're bombarded by news around the clock. Sometimes it's very bad news. Some cataclysmic events, such as 9/11, stay in our collective consciousness a long time, although in that instance the public's horror was amplified by ever-rewound TV footage of the planes slicing into the twin towers.
Generally we forget, as life plods and sputters along. Even the last space-shuttle tragedy seems like old news; it was actually just eight weeks ago.
Again, it sounds monstrous, but there was no graphic TV footage, so it faded quickly. Likely more people remember the O. J. Bronco chase.
Not everyone forgets, though. Airing tonight as a commercial-free, extended episode of The Nature of Things, the documentary The Investigation of Swissair 111 (CBC, 8 p.m.) resurrects the Sept. 2, 1998, tragedy in which an airliner knifed into the Atlantic Ocean, roughly eight kilometres off Peggy's Cove, N.S. There were 229 people on board.
David Suzuki narrates the film, a co-production by The Nature of Things and Swiss television, written and assembled by Howard Green. It is a mesmerizing video diary of the 4ï¿½-year investigation into the Swissair crash by some very sharp Canadian investigators.
Much of the program takes place at CFB Shearwater, in Halifax, where the remains of Flight 111 have been assembled. The filming picks up approximately 15 months after the crash and they are still finding remnants on the ocean floor.
It's an eerie museum. There are rows, hundreds of them, of boxes full of twisted metal bits, plastic and gnarled balls of wire. There was also a Picasso in the cargo hold, but it doesn't seem in evidence. The investigators estimate there are two million pieces, all told.
The film is blocked methodically, starting with The Flight, a re-enactment of the doomed journey. It's revealed that the pilots smelled smoke in the cockpit shortly after departing New York and decided to land in Halifax. An emergency landing didn't seem necessary. They went to dump fuel over the ocean and just never came back.
It's creepy to discover that while passengers were getting their meal service the pilots had already donned oxygen masks.
The recovery of Swissair 111 is agonizing to watch, since all the evidence was on the ocean floor. The program follows the investigation team, a group of world-class engineers, computer experts and ex-pilots who abandoned their lives for the duration of the project.
Their investigation is beyond painstaking. Their single-minded intent is to find the cause of the crash. They believe it was a fire. The flight recorder is recovered but the last six minutes are missing.
The team has mostly reassembled the plane in a large hangar, literally, on chicken wire. Most of the front section is missing, which is a problem since that's where they believe the fire started.
A massive ship is brought in to vacuum the ocean floor for more bits; dozens of locals are paid to hand sort through the muck. The group travels to Zurich to scrutinize another Swissair jet.
The investigation, and the film, takes place over months and years. One of the investigators, a genial Maritime chap, has blond hair at the start and grey hair when they finally wrap up.
The Investigation of Swissair 111 is a sober chronicle of what happens after a tragedy, or what should happen. The program is followed by a live half-hour discussion panel, helmed by Suzuki and aviation experts before a townhall of Halifax residents. Watch and learn.
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