Sunday, December 20, 2009

NWA Flight 188 Was Not The First Time a NWA Crew Overflew Their Destination !

People - you are not going to believe this. Information has recently come to light that the same thing happened in 1948. Of course, laptops were not the culprit then - it was the Minneapolis Sunday newspaper!
Bob Johnson, NWA historian and author of the book Voices From The Sky ~ Little-Known and Long-Forgotten Stories About Northwest Airlines' Earlier Years, recently shared this fun fact with me. I have sent a request for more information to Bob Chemick, retired NWA Sales Executive. Chemick was the NWA transportation agent in Fargo, N.D. in 1948, site of the incident, who shared his eye-witness account with Bob Johnson. I am hoping to hear confirmation of this tale from Bob Chemick soon, hopefully with some additional details.
Until then, this is what I know:
On a beautiful sunny day in 1948, a shiny new Martin 2-0-2 was put into service on the MSP-Fargo route, replacing the slower Douglas DC-3. A large crowd of people and the press were waiting on the tarmac to celebrate the arrival of the new Martin 2-0-2. The appointed arrival time came and went. Nothing happened. Folks were scanning the skies as they waited. Finally it appeared, approaching the airport from the North. L. S. (Deke) DeLong, even then a NWA legend, was captain. When asked what happened, Deke later said, "I forgot I wasn't in a DC-3. We were reading the Sunday papers and we got there before we knew it." (As earlier noted, the DC-3 was slower than the new Martin 2-0-2.)
Deke died in 1964. Wouldn't you love to have the chance to ask him what he thought about NWA #188 pilots saying they overflew MSP because they were using their laptops? In 1948, reading the newspaper proved equally as distracting, but the long-forgotten Fargo flyover brought good-natured ribbing then, and brings chuckles today. A far cry from the potentially career-ending transgressions by NWA #188 pilots that continue to dominate aviation news month after month in 2009.
It was a kinder, gentler, time.

Bob Johnson's book Voices From The Sky is available at the NWA History Centre, 8101 34th Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55425. 952-698-4478 www.nwahistory.0rg


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