Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group Meets with United States Coast Guard Air Station Miami

Shown from left to right: Ron Infantino surviving passenger flight 401, Captain Richard M. Kenin, Commanding Officer U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Beverly Rasposa surviving flight attendant flight 401 and Honorary Flight 401 Committee member, Benny F. Benitez
Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Honorary Committee members Benny F. Benitez and Catherine Smallwood explain in great detail to Captain Kenin certain technical issues that were contributing factors toward the crash of flight 401, which were discovered by their extensive research of Eastern Airlines historical technical records

Shown standing, surviving flight 401 flight attendant Beverly Rasposa explains to Captain Kenin here location within the post crash wreckage of N310EA via an illustration on the laptop, as Catherine Smallwood and Ron Infantino look on

Opa Locka, Florida 4th May 2009: In an effort to render both their appreciation and recognition toward their rescuers from 37 years ago, the Eastern Airline Flight 401 Tribute Group had the honor and pleasure of meeting with Captain Richard M. Kenin, the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station Miami (C.G.A.S. Miami) so as to explain the efforts behind the group. What is commonly known today as "First Responders" a HH-52A "Sea Guard" helicopter and crew from (C.G.A.S. Miami) on the night of 29th December 1972 were the first to spot the crash site of flight 401 and render life saving assistance.
Both, surviving flight attendant Beverly Rasposa, passenger Ron Infantino and all of the other survivors were beneficiary of the dedication, professionalism and heroism that the crews from (C.G.A.S. Miami) displayed and executed on that night. Flying in pitch darkness, without an actual location to pin point the crash site as one would do today with GPS and /or night vision enhancement, the Coast Guard aircrews searched with shear determination.
Added to the fact that the topography of the Everglades in shear darkness with no horizon reference and a wet unstable surface was not conducive to the safe landing of the helicopters, but regardless of the condition on that night the "CAN DO" attitude of Naval Aviation prevailed!
Each within the group took their turns based on their expertise and / or experience so as to explain to Captain Kenin what actually happen. Captain Kenin an accomplished Naval Aviator and having a full understanding of Crew Resource Management (CRM) was impressed, so much that he has asked if the group would consider speaking and lecturing at the Air Station annual "Safety Stand Down" period in the latter part of the year. Military safe stand down is a set period in where a flying unit "stands down" from flying operational and / or training missions, so as to focus and review set and established safety and training procedures. Captain Kenin linked up his Command Flight Safety Training Officer, Lt. Dan Deutermann another accomplished Naval Aviator with the Eastern Flight 401 Group former Naval Aircrewman, Benny F. Benitez so as to coordinate a joint effort for the benefit of the HH-65 "Dolphin" helicopter and HU-25 "Falcon /Guardian" Jet aircrews training.
This would be an honor to the group and in a way to say Thank You! to the United States Coast Guard!
NOTE: The Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group would like to extend a special thanks to Petty Officer YN2 Jennifer Pick, the Command Yeoman who assisted in coordinating the group visit with Captain Kenin.

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