MYSTERIOUS ENGINE FAILURE DOOMED EGYPTAIR 990Recovery of the cockpit voice recorder from jetliner EgyptAir 990, which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean during the early morning hours of Sunday, October 31, 1999, has allowed the investigators to piece together the doomed aircraft's final flight.
Both of the Boeing 767's jet turbofan engines shut down during the final minutes before impact. And the plane's flight recorders and altitude- reporting trnsponder also stopped working.
The Boeing 767 "delivered new to Egypt in 1989, was powered by two Pratt & Whitney engines. It had proven reliable and efficient; it had logged 33,219 hours of flight time, almost as many hours as the combined tally of its experienced command crew of four captains and first officers."
"Flight 990's pilot, Ahmed Mahoud Mohammed Habashy, was one of the airline's most senior and respected fliers, a veteran of 35 years in the skies."
The co-pilot was Gameel Batouti, 59, "a former Egyptian Air Force pilot who faced mandatory retirement in March" of 2000.
Flight 990 took off at 1:19 a.m. on October 31. "Takeoff and ascent were normal. Flight 990 began climbing to the southeast. At about 120 miles out, it was vectored to the northeast and settled in for the long overwater flight (from New York City to Cairo) at 33,000 feet (10,000 meters).
"At 1:43 a.m., a routine radio transmission was made to air traffic control."
"Early in the flight, according to sources familiar with the investigation, Batouti, the relief co-pilot, entered the cockpit and asked to fly, even though he wasn't scheduled to take over until far later in the trip. Batouti was given the co-pilot's chair."
"Half an hour into the flight, with the plane at cruising altitude, Capt. Habashy got up, exchanged a few words with the co-pilot and left the cockpit, perhaps to use the bathroom, perhaps to get some coffee."
"Sometime in the next five minutes, the co-pilot, believed to be Batouti, recited a fragment of a Muslim prayer, "Tawakilt ala Allah." (Or, to give the Arabic a free translation, "I put myself in the hands of God."--J.T.)
"At 1:49 a.m. and 45 seconds, investigators now believe, the co-pilot clicked twice on the red button on his control column, switching off the autopilot."
"Eight seconds later, the co-pilot pushed his control column forward, tilting the plane over into a dive. The plane's tail raised up; the nose pointed down. The dive was so steep that 14 seconds later Flight 990 reached a zero-gravity state, meaning its passengers felt weightless--a condition that lasted about 20 seconds."
"At almost the same time, Flight 990 surpassed its maximum allowed speed and plummeted at up to 94 percent the speed of sound (Mach 1). A warning alarm sounded and, because of the zero- gravity state, engine oil pressure dropped."
"Capt. Habashy rushed back to the cockpit. "By some accounts, he got back into his seat and said, 'What's going on?' or 'What's happening?' Moments later, the same voice (Habashy's--J.T.): 'Pull with me! Pull with me!'"
At 1:50 a.m. and 22 seconds, two odd things happened."
"Two devices on the tail began to point in opposite directions--one commanding the plane to dive, the other positioning it to climb. The 'climb' device was being controlled from the pilot's side while the 'dive' device was controlled from the co-pilot's side."
"These left and right elevators, which normally operate in tandem to control the craft's up and down movements--split (my emphasis--J.T.) apparently the result of two pilots pulling and pushing hard in opposite directions on their control columns."
"Flight 990 kept diving, kept picking up speed, plummeting towards the Atlantic."
"At almost the same moment, someone shut down the engines (my emphasis--J.T.), a deliberate step that requires pulling up a shield and pulling a switch. It cannot be done accidentally."
"In the final seconds before the flight recorders stopped working, someone deployed the plane's speed brakes, panels mounted atop the wing that can help a plane descend without overspeeding. Those familiar with aerodynamics say that such a maneuver would only cause the plane to descend even more forcefully and make it difficult to climb. The speed brake handle is on the pilot's side of the cockpit."
"Nonetheless, for a few seconds at least, Flight 990 seemed to be coming out of its dive, investigators said Wednesday," November 17, 1999.
"But not for long. Perhaps eight seconds after the engine shutdown, the plane's recorders and the altitude- reporting transponder stopped working (my emphasis--J.T.) But radar shows the airplane climbing back to 24,000 feet."
"The climb didn't last long. Before 2 a.m., Flight 990 stalled, plunged abd broke apart."
All 217 people aboard were killed when the jetliner hit the ocean just off the coast of Massachusetts.
"Debris scattered for about 60 miles off the Massachusetts coast. Few remains were found of the 217 people aboard. There was never so much as a distress call from the plane."
The crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 has been a hot-button issue in the Egyptian press. "The most popular conspiracy theory making the rounds involves a plot by the Mossad, Israel's secret service, to destroy the Boeing 767 in retaliation for the United States passing military know-how to the 33 Egyptian soldiers on board," who were returning to Cairo after a military assignment in the USA.
"Mustafa Bakri, editor of the weekly Al-Osboa newspaper, says most (Egyptian) people believe the U.S. or Israeli governments had a hand in Flight 990's fate."
"'I'm suspicious about the delay in picking up the two black boxes and the lack of bodies,' he says, holding up a headline that reads CIA Touches Black Boxes before their Release.."
During a heated two-hour meeting in Cairo on Monday, November 22, 1999, Egyptian transportation chief Ibrahim Demiri told the assembly, "Our investigation confirmed that the accident was not a result of human error. This was presented to the president (i.e. Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt--J.T.), and he called President Clinton." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for November 21, 1999, "Questions about EgyptAir Flight 990 linger," page 13A. Also USA Today for November 19, 1999, "Crash conspiracy theories abound," page 3A, and USA Today for November 23, 1999, "Egypt's report on crash steers away from sabotage," page 1A.)
GIGANTIC UFO SEEN BY THOUSANDS IN THE SOUTH PACIFICOn Thursday, November 4, 1999, a gigantic UFO was seen by thousands of people on the large islands of New Britain and New Ireland in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
"Thousands in the New Britain region, the Gazelle Peninsula, the remote Bainingo ranges, the Duke of York Islands, the Baining area,, Vuvu Beach, north coast of Rabaul and Pilapila currently have apparently witnessed a large, slow-moving object described variously as a craft...approximately about 200 metres (660 feet) long, 50 metres (165 feet) wide which was 'lit up like a city in the sky,' passing slowly across the sky making a quiet puffing noise'--an airship, perhaps?"
"But other descriptions challenge this possibility. People living in the Duke of York (island) group close to New Ireland reported seeing a huge craft hovering just metres above the sea off St. Geroges Channel, and traveling very slowly. They also reported other smaller craft with bright lights circling the large one 'in a playful manner.'"
"John Berenti, a family of Namatanal, New Ireland, saw 'a large craft just above the tops of the mango trees;' he estimated (the UFO to be) 200 metres (660 feet) to 300 metres (990 feet) long and 50 metres (165 feet) wide."
"Raymond Theodore, a police officer, at about 8:30 p.m. (November 4, 1999) on Vuvu Beach, north Rabaul coast, saw 'a large craft traveling just metres above the (ocean) surface and saw it travel over Waton Island. It had very bright lights on the back as it moved along.'"
"Alex Jame and four other boys returning from Pilapila Community School at 7 p.m. and others saw bright lights approaching. As the UFO approached, Alex related, 'the streetlights dimmed like when the batteries in a torch (flashlight in the USA--J.T.) are shot.' He stated (that) it was noiseless, oblong in shape, bright lights around the edge with top level pyramid with some lights around it. All white lights."
"The boys said it took 30 minutes to pass them. Alex said when the object hovered over them, the place around them lit up and they could see people near them as if it were daylight. It eventually disappeared over the mountains near Vuvu."
"John McLeod, manager of the Malangan Beach Resort, New Ireland province, said he watched it and thought it was a satellite re-entry. He seems to be describing something else entirely." (See the newspaper Papua New Guinea Post-Courier for November 11, November 12 and November 15, 1999. Many thanks to Errol Bruce-Knapp for forwarding this newspaper article.)
GIANT GREEN FIREBALL SEEN BY THOUSANDS IN THE USA'S UPPER MIDWESTShortly after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, 1999, a giant luminous green fireball flew from west to east across the states of the USA's Upper Midwest region, startling thousnads of eyewitnesses.
"A little after 6 p.m. (Central time) Tuesday, a bright light--most reported it as green--streaked across the eastern sky of the Chicago (Illinois) area for about 5 to 10 seconds and abruptly broke into a cascade of particles, causing a variety of reactions among viewers ranging from cosmically cool to panic-stricken."
"Don Troiani, an astronomer at the Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College in River Grove, Ill. was convinced that the light was caused by 'space debris' rather than a meteor shower."
"Shane Crone, the Adler Planetarium's observatory operator and sky show operator, agreed, saying the reported bright green color made him doubt it was a meteor. More likely, he said, it was a satellite."
"But then again, he said, 'It's hard to say.'"
"Joe Petersen of Island Lake, who was driving eastbound on Illinois Highway 176 when he saw the light, said he felt it was a plane crash." (See the Chicago Tribune for November 17, 1999, "Tuesday's spectacle of light a source of color, confusion" by Marla Donato and Aaner Madhani.)
In Indiana, UFO Roundup correspondent Steve Wilson Sr., who lives in Avon, Ind., received phone calls from 25 witnesses who reported "a very large fireball that flew over the south side of Indianapolis at around 7 p.m. (Eastern time)."
Police switchboards in Columbus, Ohio "were swamped by callers who mistook what might have been a meteor for a flaming aircraft."
"'The average person won't see any that large in a lifetime,' said Bob Hollinshead, operations coordinator for the airport. 'We initially got calls from people who thought it may have been an aircraft breaking apart in the sky."
(Editor's Comment: Obviously Mr. Hollinshead hasn't been reading recent issues of UFO Roundup.)
"The fireball streaked across the sky from west to east about 7 p.m., stunning stargazers as far away as Kentucky who were awaiting the arrival of the Leonid meteor shower."
"The fireball lasted for twenty seconds before disappearing over the horizon."
"'It was gorgeous,' said Tom Burns, director of the Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio."
"Samuel Guess and Tiffany Parker had just placed an order at the Kentucky Fried Chicken (fast-food restaurant) at Cleveland and Oakland Park avenues when the fireball streaked by."
"'It was big and it was really long. That's how we knew it wasn't an airplane,' Guess said."
"It was moving really fast and then it disappeared,' Parker said."
"Gerald Newsom, an Ohio State University astronomy professor, said he believes the fireball was either a piece of an asteroid or a satellite entering the atmosphere...At 7 p.m., when the fireball took to the sky, the (Leonid) meteors were on the other side of the Earth, he said." (See the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch for November 17, 1999, "Fireball stuns stargazers, 'average' folks" by Roger Alford.)
At 7:03 p.m., eyewitness O. Kinsbury was driving through New Philadelphia, Ohio, "just north of the Stone Creek exit," when he saw "a light train moving across my field of vision from west to east about 20 degrees above the road."
Further south, in Cincinnati, "If you happened to glance at the sky shortly after 7 p.m., you may have thought you were getting a piece of tonight's meteor shower."
"Many callers to police described seeing a green ball of fire with a fragmented tail in the sky for about 15 seconds."
"But two Tristate astronomical experts said the green glow that was reportedly seen from Kentucky to Wisconsin wasn't part of the Leonid meteor shower due to arrive late tonight. Instead, it was probably a dead man-made satellite reentering Earth's atmosphere."
"'It's definitely not a meteor,' said Paul D. Mohr, an astronomer with the Cincinnati Observatory, who did not witness the light show. 'According to the descriptions, it sounds like it was a satellite.'"
"Rick Marra of West Chester (Ohio) was driving north on Snider Drive in Symmes Township Tuesday when he saw the fragmented object about 7:04 p.m. 'My wife kept saying, 'Rick, stop looking up--stay on the road,''he said, 'Whatever it was, it was huge.'" (See the Cincinnati, Ohio Enquirer for November 17, 1999, page 1.)
(Editor's Note: Symmes Township is named for John Cleve Symmes, an early exponent of the Hollow Earth theory. Remind me to tell you about the Fortean phenomena in that town sometime.)
At 7:04 p.m., Pamela Z. and her husband were "walking on the University of Cincinnati campus with 20 other people. We all stood and watched for what seemed like minutes. It was an enormous, Titanic-like aircraft. It was like a fireball with greenish exhaust behind. It was quite spectacular. It moved slowly from west to east, over the horizon. The triangular shape was apparent and circled with white/yellow lights. People saw red and green, s well."
In Kentucky, a Cincinnati resident "while traveling northbound on Interstate Highway I-75 in Florence, Ky., he and his wife observed two rows of lights (shortly after 7 p.m.) traveling in formation." The formation, he added, "was way too wide to be an airplane." (Many thanks to Pamela Z., Kenneth Young of Cincinnati UFO Research, Stig Agermose and Steve Wingate of Skywatch International for their reports.)
FISHERMEN VIDEOTAPE UFO IN NEW SOUTH WALESOn Sunday, November 7, 1999, several fishermen videotaped a UFO from their boat, which was just offshore from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia.
"Tony Bell, 33, and his colleagues claim to have seen a strange dome-shaped object when they were about six natuical miles off the New South Wales coast near Coffs Harbour, north of Sydney."
"'This thing just appeared. It was 100 to 150 feet (30 to 45 meters) up in the sky,' he said, adding that the object had a bright orange, shiny appearance and seemed to be coming closer to the two boats the group were using."
"'It would move closer, then south of us, then move closer again.'"
Grabbing his videocamera, Bell began shooting footage of the UFO. "'It was a flying ship for sure,' he said, 'You can see clearly from the video that it was some sort of machine.'"
"The fishermen have sent the video to the Melbourne-based, privately-run National Space Centre. Operations director Ross Dowe said he was waiting to examine the footage, adding, 'It was definitely worth looking at.'"
Coffs Harbour, N.S.W. is 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Sydney. (Many thanks to Ross Dowe and John Hayes for this report.)
UFOs SIGHTED IN ONTARIOCanada's Ontario province was the site of three UFO sightings last week.
On Wednesday, November 10, 1999, at 7:10 p.m., Lufthansa Flight 470 was heading west at 35,000, passing over Springbrook, Ont. (population 15,539) about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Lake Simcoe, when the crew reportedly spotted a UFO.
Camire, 44, who claims to have been a crew member aboard Flight 470, stated, "We reported the sighting to Toronto Air Traffic Control (ATC) Centre." Another aircraft "ws about five miles to the right of us and they reported seeing the light of this object at roughly the same altitude...It was a very eyecatching sight and nothing we had ever experienced before." (Many thanks to Ben Field for this report.)
On Wednesday, November 17, 1999, Graham S.D. spotted a UFO he deswcribed as "an extremely bright orange spitting light" that was "at an altitude of about 100 feet above the water midway between Toronto and Point Credit, Ont. (population 14,540), moving a little to the left or to the right and changing colour to a deeply beautiful shade of red."
On Friday, November 19, 1999, at 1:40 a.m., Graham reported, "I was closing my son's window. He was asleep and the rain was coming in. It (the UFO) was situated in the northwest sky, and it was a bright as the sun, and this sucker was moving fast, bright orange," remaining in view for "four to five seconds" before zipping away.
UFOs SPOTTED IN TWO MICHIGAN CITIESOn Tuesday, November 16, 1999, the witness, Justin, spotted a UFO in Saginaw, Michigan (population 69,100), a city on Interstate Highway I-75 approximately 101 miles (166 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
"The UFO moved from the west to the east," Justin reported, "It moved slowly, stopped in mid-air and then moved on. I seen it from a residential area, but it was hard to tell where it was hovering because of the size and speed of this thing." He described the UFO as having "three lights with two right behind them."
"My friends and I were walking down the street, and suddenly we thought this thing was slowing down. We all stopped to look at the object, and, as we did, the object started moving about. My friends and I were all afraid of it, and we began to run toward our homes." (Many thanks to Ben Field for this report.)
The same night, at about 7 p.m., Paul Williston reported that he "and several other" motorists were "traveling on U.S. (Route) 131 about twenty miles north of Grand Rapids, Mich. (population 193,700). It took over 30 seconds to travel about 70 percent (of the sky) to the horizon."
"It had a comet-like appearance with an extremely bright central body and a very long trailing tail," Williston reported, "It was brilliant emerald green in color, fading into white as the object began to break up it passed beyond the eastern horizon, and I lost sight of it."
"The most surprising thing was its very slow, almost controlled flight that did not seem to decrease in altitude. It really seemed to travel roughly parallel to the ground, and actually seemed to disappear over the eastern horizon." (Many thanks to Steve Wingate of Skywatch International for this news story.)
WOMAN VIDEOTAPES UFO IN NORTHEAST WISCONSINOn Sunday, November 14, 1999, at 8:12 p.m., the witness, Traci, was at her home in Stella township, near Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is located 271 miles (433 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee, when she spotted an unusual light in the sky.
"At 8:12 p.m., my husband and I saw a strange light in the sky to the south of our home. We watched this out our patio window. I grabbed my camcorder and started taping. I only have a few minutes on tape."
"The light was hovering above the treetops and changing colors, from red to green to white, then starting the color sequence over again. The light was slowly moving up, then down, then to the right. I called a friend, and she came over to the house and also caught this on tape." (Many thanks to Jim Aho of the W-Files for this report.)
CIGAR-SHAPED UFO SEEN EAST OF SAN DIEGOOn Thursday, November 11, 1999, two women from Independence, Missouri, Margie and Donna, were driving west on Highway 8 between San Diego and El Centro, California (population 31,384) when they saw a metallic silver cigar-shaped UFO over the mountains.
They were "fifty miles east of San Diego. The elevation was 4,100 feet," Margie reported, "We had just passed a sign, so that's how we knew it was the elevation."
"I was driving and something made me look at the sky in a northwesterly direction," Margie added, "I was surprised to see something that was clearly not a plane because it had no wings or tail, no lights and no trail behind it. It looked like a silver metallic cigar-shaped craft with rounded edges and was larger at one end (the left, as I looked at it) The object was moving very slowly from north to south, just above the peak of a mountain. It would periodically slow down, then speed up."
"I looked at my friend a couple of seconds after I first spotted it. 'Donna, what the heck is that!?' To which she replied that she had no idea and that she had been watching it for one to one-and-a- half minutes and was trying to figure this out herself. We both let out a yell. 'Oh, my God! I think it's a UFO.'"
"At this point, I looked at my watch to verify time, and it said 4:20 p.m. The sun was setting in the west and caused the craft to shine quite brightly. We both watched the object for approximately 30 seconds and were discussing it when it made a 90-degree turn very quickly toward the west, became transparent and disappeared." (Many thanks to Morgan Clements, director of World Wide UFO Reporting Center for this report.)
1902: WHO'S OUT THERE?Every so often, you come across an encounter story that gives you a shiver. Such as this one.
It took place in New London, Minnesota (population 971), a small town on Highway 9 about 90 miles (144 kilometers) west of Minneapolis. And it happened ninety-seven years ago, on November 21, 1902.
Living in the second-story apartment of the Great Northern Railroad depot at the time (which is still standing--J.T.) was a man named Jacob Caylor and his family. But let's allow his daughter, Mrs. Deborah Caylor Kriegenbring, tell the story in her own words.
"When I was small...oh, let's see, that would be about 1902...when I was about ten, I think...of course, I went to bed pretty early. Some little folks nowadays stay up all hours of the night, but not me. I was sent up to my room by 7:30, or maybe 8 p.m. now and then. Mine was a second story room that used to be part of the apartment that the old depot agent lived in."
"Anyway, one night (prior to November 21, 1902) I was about to put out my lamp when something caught my eye. Some motion, maybe. I looked toward the window, and there was a man's face up against the window. I remember it plain as day. Maybe 'cause his nose was flat against the window and looked like the biggest part of his face."
"I called my father, but he didn't believe me. It happened a few more times. Always the same (proboscidian) face. But when I told my father, he just said, 'Young lady, I think you have a very active imagination for a ten-year-old. Now get some sleep.'"
"The day after Thanksgiving that year, my cousin (Edie) from out in the country came to stay the night. She kept kicking me and I wasn't used to sleeping with anyone, so I woke up in the middle of the night. It was a beautiful harvest-moon night. I looked out the window to find the man in the moon, and there was that other face again. Same one. I screamed. That woke cousin Edie, and she saw it, too."
The rest of the Caylor family came running. Debbie and Edie described the weird big-nosed face in the window. But the adults were still skeptical.
"The next morning, Jacob looked around outside before he went to work at the hardware store. He was looking for any impressions that a ladder would have made in the not-yet-frozen ground. There wasn't even any grass broken from a weight bearing down on it. Nor were there any footprints."
"'Silly girls!' he burst out. As an afterthought, he checked the window to see how the oiled paper, put there to save fuel, was holding up."
"Suddenly he saw that a hole about the size of a man's face had been cut into the paper!"
After that, Jake Caylor was understandably reluctant to visit the outhouse after dark. (See the book Ghostly Tales of Minnesota by Ruth D. Hein, Adventure Publications, Cambridge, Minn., 1992, pages 67 to 69.)
(Editor's Comment: You'll be okay, Jake. Just don't ever read a story by Ambrose E. Beirce entitled The Difficulty of Crossing a Field. Interestingly, the date of the Caylor experience-- November 21, 1902--was the night the steamer S.S. Bannockburn disappeared on Lake Superior. That night sailors aboard the Huronic, the Northern Navigation Line steamship, reported mysterious lights on the big lake. The wreck of the Bannockburn was never found.)
Here's a ten-second lesson in the language of Chief Massasoit--Eniskeetompauwaug--so you can impress your dinner guests.
In English, friend (singular); friends (plural) Translated into Eniskeetompauwaug, that's netop (singular) and netompaug (plural).
USA readers, enjoy your holiday!
We'll be back next week with more UFO news from around the planet, brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you then.
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1999 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the news item first appeared.