Monday, April 12, 2010
Cautionary Tale for Our Times: Will the Real Cause of the Polish Air Disaster in Russia Please Stand Up?
WE'VE HEARD EVERY CONCEIVABLE THEORY FOR THE CAUSE of the crash in Russia that killed everyone on board---including Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and his wife. From bad weather to pilot error, equipment failure and sabotage--- none of the theories have quite added up to the kind of disaster that went so devastatingly down, in my opinion.
When I got back to D.C. late yesterday, my intrepid host told me his news day had been filled with the new, most likely theory for the crash: VIP Syndrome. As I read about it in on the front page of The Washington Post, it did seem to make perfect sense: the president of a country running late who just had to get to a ceremony on time and threw his weight around to make sure he got there. In order to do this, he ordered his pilots to land in fog and zero visibility, against all recommendations or without permission from Russian air traffic controllers to divert and land at another airport.
The theory is that Kaczynski was too impatient to arrive at his destination to entertain any thoughts of diversion. Frustrated, he ordered the cockpit to land anyway. The rest is tragic aviation history.
Evidently, this wasn't the first time Kaczyski had thrown his weight around on a plane to suit his schedule needs rather than the safety of all the passengers on the plane, various news sources are now reporting. Last year, the Polish president tried unsuccessfully to have a pilot fired for not listening to his VIP orders to fly the plane in a manner that suited his schedule. The pilot refused and lived to tell the tale. He also won the case.
Unfortunately, the ill-fated pilots last weekend let VIP Syndrome over-ride their better judgment and orders from the ground. Theirs was pilot error of the gravest kind and cost them the ultimate price: over-riding principle for the sake of appeasing a so-called important person.
Time will surely tell us more when the contents of the black box are disseminated. But I for one think this will be the conclusion. I also think this is a cautionary tale for our times and all of our lives: We all think we're important and often will brook no voluntary delays in our mad dash to keep our schedules and get our needs met. But often delays and even cancellations are for our own good and can even spare us great harm or death. We ignore them at our great peril.
Will be interesting to see what a full investigation turns up. But my money's on impatience and VIP Syndrome. It's a global disease of our hurried, self-important times. It's a disease we all need to be aware of. Not getting there on time is certainly not the ultimate inconvenience as the Polish air disaster aptly proves. If no one else pays attention to this storyline, I hope and pray that I do.
MEANWHILE, the Poles are claiming it is ALL Russia's fault. Sounds like an international political incident in the making to me with no one taking responsibility.
Posted by Webutante at 7:49:00 PM