Fire in the SkyS


Air France 447 Investigation, Bodies Found

© Unknown
News came Saturday that two bodies from Air France flight 447 were found roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast. Friday French officials concluded that "wreckage" found by Brazilian authorities in the ocean and an observed 12-mile long oil slick were not in fact from the Air France Airbus A330 that was lost last Sunday with all 228 aboard. Amid reports of the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) data, which were reportedly sent from the aircraft in its final four minutes, Airbus Friday urged operators to review procedures for flying while receiving conflicting or "incoherent" air data information on the flight deck. Also Friday, an Air France memo obtained by the Associated Press states that pitot tubes are being replaced on the airline's jets. This has led to increased speculation from mainstream media sources that the A330 had entered turbulent air at an improper speed while operating in a confined stall/overspeed performance regime -- at 35,000 feet, roughly 5,000 feet from its service ceiling. While speculation continues, so too do the effects of debris earlier thought to be wreckage, which significantly impacted the search, stretching limited first response resources and widening the search area by 300 miles. With the debris and oil slick set aside, developing theories that the aircraft impacted the water without suffering a pre-impact explosion or substantial fire are no longer so readily supported and reports from an Air Comet flight out of Lima for Lisbon may attract significant interest.


Best of the Web: Is it Possible that a meteor brought down Air France 447?

Back in 1996, after the initially very mysterious explosion and crash of Flight 800 from JFK to Rome, there were numerous eyewitness accounts of a "streak in the sky" just before the crash. This led to the "missile theory" of the crash, which was eventually attributed to the explosion of the center fuel tank by the NTSB. But, also at the time, it was suggested that a meteor of sufficient size could have struck the plane, bringing it down.

Could a meteor have brought down Air France 447? Today we are starting to see reports that there actually may have been a meteor:
However, both pilots of an Air Comet flight from Lima to Lisbon sent a written report on the bright flash they said they saw to Air France, Airbus and the Spanish civil aviation authority, the airline told CNN.

"Suddenly, we saw in the distance a strong and intense flash of white light, which followed a descending and vertical trajectory and which broke up in six seconds," the captain wrote.

Comment: Let's see what the physics and astronomy professors said exactly in their letter to the NYT in 1996:
In T.W.A. 800 Crash, Don't Discount Meteor
Published: Thursday, September 19, 1996

To the Editor:

In a Sept. 17 news article on conspiracy theories in the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, you report that ''more than once, senior crash investigators have tried to end the speculation by ranking the possibility of friendly fire at about the same level of the idea that a meteorite destroyed the jet.'' In fact, we believe this comparison must be based on a miscalculation of the probability that a meteorite is the cause of the crash.

The odds of a meteor's striking T.W.A. Flight 800 or any other single airline flight are indeed small. However, the relevant calculation is not the likelihood of any particular aircraft being hit, but the probability that one commercial airliner over the last 30 years of high-volume air travel would be struck by an incoming meteor with sufficient energy to cripple the plane or cause an explosion.

Approximately 3,000 meteors a day with the requisite mass strike Earth. There are 50,000 commercial airline takeoffs a day worldwide. Adopting an average flight time of two hours, this translates to more than 3,500 planes in the air; these cover approximately two-billionths of Earth's surface.

Multiplying this by the number of meteors per day and the length of the era of modern air travel leads to a 1-in-10 chance that a commercial flight would have been knocked from the sky by meteoric impact.

No such calculation of the probability of a rare event can be taken as proof of cause. But it is essential to pose the problem correctly in order to obtain an estimate that can be used in determining whether or not the hypothesis is worth considering. We believe the meteor impact theory deserves more considered attention.



New York, Sept. 17, 1996

The writers are professors of, respectively, physics and astronomy at Columbia University.


India: 'Object that fell from sky was a meteorite'

"Meteorite is a rocky material which enters into earth's atmosphere from outside the earth (for eg, Mars) whereas numerous small and big rocks circulating in between the planets Mars and Jupiter are known as asteroids," said Prof Harish Chandra Verma of department of Physics of IIT-K while talking to TOI, specifying the difference between a meteorite and an asteroid.

Prof Verma ruled out the possibility of the stone being an asteroid as reported in some newspapers and emphatically remarked that the initial study of the piece of the rock done on Wednesday confirms that it's a meteorite. Usually such pieces of rock (debris) come from asteroid belt only but sometimes they may very well be a part of other celestial bodies also.


French Minister says cannot rule out terrorism in Air France plane crash

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said Friday that the possibility of a terrorist attack on Air France Flight 447 cannot be ruled out.

"We have no right to exclude terrorism," he told journalists, but adding that he had not heard of any threats to the flight or of any group or individual claiming responsibility for bringing down the aircraft.

The Airbus A330-200 airliner with 228 people aboard went missing over the Atlantic Sunday night after leaving Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According to Air France earlier this week, the plane sent out a series of messages showing "multiple technical failure" just before it disappeared.


England: Eastbourne, East Sussex - Large 'Fireball' Moving Horizontally

Posted: June 4, 2009

Date of Sighting: 31st May 2009
Time: 10-11 PM

Witness Statement: I was having a ciggie out of the bathroom window and saw a large 'fireball' (glowing orange) moving horizontally and quite low in the sky. This thing appeared to be both bigger than a 747, and faster than any plane or helicopter. I watched it, shouted and ran to get my partner, was literally gone 3-4 seconds, and when I returned it had just vanished ! Impossible! I know what I saw, and it wasn't anything man made (that I know of !). Just a big ball of 'fire' flying at a constant speed and height.


US: Near Rio Vista, California - A Green Fireball

Posted: June 2, 2009

Date: May 28, 2009
Time Approx: 11:30 p.m.
Number of witnesses: 2
Number of Objects: 1
Shape of Objects: Orb-like.

Full Description of Event/Sighting: Driving down highway 12 slowing down for construction, I had seen a medium-sized green fireball-like orb falling towards the ground at a close 45 degree angle approximately 1 mile away. I wasn't sure if it were fireworks or a flare gun initially considering the construction nearby. I also had considered a falling star. A couple of seconds later I realized it couldn't have been either of those and quickly asked my girlfriend sitting next to me what it could be. We both looked at it for 3-4 seconds as it rapidly fell towards the ground. We weren't able to see where it fell due to a blocking view caused by a big-rig truck.


Air France mystery finds possible clue in Qantas near-miss

A recent near-fatal incident involving a similar Airbus A330 could provide clues as to the cause of the Air France crash.

Last October, a Qantas A330 plunged 650 feet in a few seconds after a computer malfunction which was possibly triggered by electrical interference.

More than 50 people were injured in the incident which happened suddenly at 37,000 feet over Western Australia.

The air data computer, which is supposed to correct mistakes by the pilot, sent the A330 into a very steep dive. The computer mistakenly thought that the pilot was trying to climb too fast.


Air France Jet With 228 People Missing Over Atlantic

© Airbus/APThis photo shows an Airbus A330 model operated by Air France. An Air France A330 carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris lost contact with air traffic controllers Monday over the Atlantic Ocean
An Air France jet carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris lost contact with air traffic controllers over the Atlantic Ocean, an Air France official said Monday. Brazil immediately began a search mission off its northeastern coast.

Air France says the Airbus A330 sent an automatic signal indicating electrical problems while going through an area of strong turbulence. The plane "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence" at 10:00 p.m. EDT Sunday, the company said in a statement.


US: Gravelly, Arkansas - Three See 2 Fireballs Move N & Light Up Entire Sky

Date of Sighting: May 14, 2009
Time of Sighting: 10:45 PM CDT
Location of Sighting: Gravelly, Arkansas (W. Arkansas About 60 MI WNW of Little Rock)

Description: I was riding my 4 wheeler on a perfectly clear night. I was rounding a curve and something caught my eye. I turned my attention to the sky. It was almost like two fireballs side by side traveling north. The fireballs completely lit up the sky. They seemed to be stretched out traveling fast, and in an instant they were gone. I have two friends who were looking at the same thing and wondering what we had just seen.


England: A38 Between Sutton-in-Ashfield and Ripley - Fireball sighting

Posted: May 18, 2009

Date of Sighting: 17th May 2009
Time: 23.00hrs

Witness Statement: Whilst driving towards Derby just noticed what looked like some sort of fireball. It looked to me like it was falling towards the ground. Not sure if it made a noise as I was driving. It's hard to say if it was moving and then lost sight as I drove under it. Not sure how high it was, 1000ft maybe? I really don't know.