Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group Meets With Miami Artist George Rodez To Kick Off Fund Raising Project

Conducting the formal transfer of the L-1011 from the Eastern Airline Flight 401 Tribute Group to Artist George Rodez are from left to right: Benny F. Benitez CEO of the 94th AeroClaims-Aviation Consultant Group, Artist George Rodez and Catherine Smallwood, Chief Aviation Artist for the Digital Aircraft Factory

Miami Artist George Rodez with Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Survivors
Shown left to right are: Patricia McQigg (Flt 401 Flight Attendant) Mercedes V. Ruiz (Flt 401 Flight Attendant) Artist George Rodez, Ron Infantino (Flt 401 Passenger) and Beverly Raposa (Flt 401 Flight Attendant)

Flt 401 Flight Attendant Mercedes V. Ruiz explains to George Rodez about the attitude of the aircraft as she recalled just before impact

Using an Eastern Airlines L-1011 interior ad from the 1970's Flight Attendants Mercedes V. Ruiz and Patricia Mc Qigg show George Rodez their location within the cabin before the impact
Flt 401 Flight Attendant Beverly Raposa visually brief George Rodez about the crash showing post crash photos from the Miami Herald News Paper indicating to him her location within the wreckage in which she was rescued from

Miami, Florida 28th March 2009: Saturday March 28th marked the 8th consecutive weekend in which the members of the Eastern Flight 401 Tribute Group held their schedule weekend meetings at the offices of Ron Infantino. For eight straight weekends, the Flight 401 Tribute Group Committee got together as they forge ahead with their dedicated project to establish a tribute site / public display for those who died and survived the crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 401 back on 29th December 1972, which forever effected and changed the way in which commercial airline, corporate and military cockpit crews worldwide perform their duties and functions in an operational environment under Cockpit Resource Management (CRM).
The Flight 401 Group has formerly launched its first ever fund raising project by having local Miami Artist George Rodez utilize the 1/100 scale model of the L-1011 as shown above, which was generously donated by Atlantic-Models as his canvas to create a one of kind art piece for auction.
Scheduled to support an art expo in Barcelona, Spain next month, George advised that he will commence to work on the L-1011 within the next few days. During the meeting, George expressed many creative ways and ideas to approach this project and advised of enlisting the creative assistance of other local Miami artists to paint a fleet of 1/100 scale model of the L-1011's similar to the one shown above which will then be auction off.
One idea which was spawned from George creative thinking was to have Airlines sponsor the purchase of an unpainted 1/100 scale model of an L-1011 from Atlantic-Models so that the local artists could create their unique art work of which would then be donated for auction to the assist the Flight 401 Group obtain the funds needed to press forth with their vision of creating its tribute site / public display to those whose lives were touched by the lost of Eastern Flight 401 on 29th December 1972.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Atlantic Models Of Miami Florida Comes To The Aid The Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group

Mr. Roger Jarman of Atlantic-Models and Catherine Smallwood, Digital Aircraft Factory, Chief Aviation Artist and supporting committee member for the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group accepts a donated Lockheed L-1011 model for painting by Miami Artist George Rodez
A Lockheed L-1011-100 Resin model in 1/100 scale, which will be transformed into a one of kind art piece by famed Miami Artist George Rodez

Miami, Florida 24th March 2009: An avid supporter of "Miami Aviation" industry known and recognized Atlantic Models comes to the aid of the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group with their generous donation of 1/100 scale model of a Lockheed L-1011 aircraft. Through the talent and effort of famed Miami Artist George Rodez, the donated "unpainted" L-1011 model provided by Atlantic-Models shall become a one of kind special art piece for a fund raising auction.
The proceeds generated from the future auction will go to support the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group. Announcement of the auction shall be posted as soon as the gray L-1011 shown above is transformed into a brilliant and vivid art piece worthy of sitting in a special collection.
The Group is thankful to both Mr. Roger Jarman of Atlantic-Models and Mr. George Rodez, who's shall apply his creative talent to create in what will become a brilliant combination of "Aviation and Art".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Local Miami Artist Comes To The Assistance Of The Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 survivor Mr. Ron Infantino and Miami based, world renowned artist Mr. George Rodez
Miami Lakes, Florida 19th March 2009: In a meeting arranged and coordinated through Mr. Benny F. Benitez of the the 94th AeroClaims-Aviation Consulting Group a strong and established supporter of the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group allowed group survivor Mr. Ron Infantino to meet and speak to world renowned, Miami artist Mr. George Rodez.
In a first ever expansion into "Aviation, Mr. Rodez has agreed to assist the 401 Group by applying his brilliant and vivid style of art work onto cast resin mold, base mounted model of an L-1011 which is being donated by Mr. Roger Jarman of Atlantic Models This "One of a Kind" art piece produced by Mr. Rodez shall be auctioned off at a scheduled event to be established later this year with the proceed of the auction going to support the Flight 401 Group. The Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group appreciates the assistance and dedication in which Mr. Rodez has expressed toward rendering his artistic talent to help with the group fund raising.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group Establishes a U.K. Chapter

Rugby Warwickshire, England 19th March 2009: The Miami, Florida based Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group through the assistance and coordination by and between Benny Benitez and Beverly Rasposa has resulted in the establishment of the first International Chapter in United Kingdom. Mr. Nick Bavington has been appointed to head up the Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group-U.K.
Mr. Bavington has displayed and expressed a great deal of enthusiasm and willingness to help in expanding the presence of the group. With a large enthusiastic aviation / plane spotter community in the U.K., its a great realm to expand into concerning the awareness of flight 401.
This marks the group first world wide expansion as its promotes the cause, remembrance and the legacy of flight 401 onto the world stage. One of the missions in which Mr. Bavington will undertake, shall be to establish lines of communication with the Royal Air Force Squadron 216th based at Royal Air Force Station Brize Norton. The 216th still flys and shall continue to fly the Lockheed L-1011 until 2015 in the tanker / transport role.
One goal to hopefully reach, would be to invite the 216 to dispatch one of their L-1011's to the United States so as to hopefully attend this year Homestead Air Reserve Base airshow scheduled for the weekend of November 7th 2009.
The flight 401 group wishes to seek to have an L-1011 operator such the 216th to be an operational supporter and with Mr, Bavington being stationed close to RAF Brize Norton that is an important goal for the group to achieve.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Homstead Air Force Base 301st ARRS Came To The Rescue of Eastern Airlines Flight 401

Photo credit: Felix McLarney
Photo credit: Ron Olson

Sikorsky HH-34J "Choctaw"
Photo Credit: Mr. Ron Olson (

Homestead, Florida 14th March 2009: Aside from the U.S. Coast Guards HH-52A's helicopters dispatched to the crash site from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, which rendered the life saving capabilities consisting of medivac airlift and transporting the rescue teams to and from the crash site, the United States Air Force, also provided rotary wing aircraft assets toward the rescue effort. The 301st Air Reserve Rescue Squadron (ARRS) while operating the Sikorsky HH-34J "Choctaw", then based at Homestead Air Force Base also came to the rescue of Eastern Flight 401.

Originally developed by Sikorsky Helicopter as the UH-19 "Chickasaw", the HH-34 "Choctaw" first flew on 8th March 1954. Initially designed as the HSS-1 "Seabat" when it served with the U.S. Navy in the anti-submarine role. Thirty-Two (32) units were taken by the Air Force to act as transitional aircraft, thus filling the gap when the Grumman "Albatross" amphibious aircraft was retired and needed for the war in Vietnam.The Air Force Reserves (AFRES) operated the HH-34J "Choctaw" from June 1971 to June 1974. During their operational period, the HH-34J served with four U.S.A.F ARRS units, thus being the 301, 302, 304 & 305. Each ARRS unit had 8 helicopters each and in 1974 all 32 units were finally retired.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HH-52A's "Sea Guard" Helicopters From Miami U.S.C.G Air Station Comes to The Rescue of Flight 401 Survivors

Shown above was then ten month old Baby Miguel Junco being taken by a medic from U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Helicopter (side / modex No. 1446) to receive medical attention
A ten year old boy who survived the crash of Flight 401 is medivac by a U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A (side / modex No. unknown)
A bleeding survivor walks out from a U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Helicopter (side / modex No. 1360) at Palmetto Hospital
Opa-Locka, Florida 13th March 2009: The wings of gold, the wings of Naval Aviation played a pivotal role in the rescue of the survivors from the Eastern Flight 401 crash. During the first hours after the crash, rescue efforts were undertaken by the U.S. Coast Guard operating the Sikorsky HH-52A "Sea Guard" Helicopters from the Miami Air Station at Opa Locka Airport (KOPF). The HH-52A's played a significant roll in transporting the rescue teams out to the crash site and ferrying the survivors to Miami for medical attention. Our research of the Miami Herald newspaper archives produced the above photos, which showed two specific HH-52A's from U.S.C.G Miami Air Station, thus numbered as aircraft's 1446 and 1360.
We have established contact with Captain Richard Kenin, the current Commanding Officer at the Miami Coast Guard Air Station. We are seeking to work with Captain Kenin and his staff, so as to hopefully identify and obtain historical information as to the possible other Helicopters and crews who played a major role in the saving of many lives. Tremendous appreciation to the crews, their experience and the leadership of the Miami Coast Guard Air Station on that fateful night. FLY NAVY!
NOTE: Reviewing archived photographs from the Miami Herald Newspaper, a third HH-52A, helicopter was partly identified as taking part in the rescue effort, but the photographed viewed, showed the side number of the aircraft as 1_76, the 2nd digit was obscured by the winch rescue rig mounted unit outside the main cabin door. Therefore, we conclude that so far three HH-52A's took part in the rescue effort.

Eastern Airlines N310EA Flight 401 Post Crash Site Photographs

Nose section wreckage of aircraft N310EA within the Florida Everglades
N310EA tail section wreckage, visible and still attached to the aircraft is the aircraft number two Rolls Royce RB211-22C turbo fan engine (s/n-10073)

Miami,Florida 13th March 2009: The above crash photos shows the wreckage of N301EA nose section, which was photographed the morning after the crashed by the Miami Herald. The lower photo show the entire tail section of N310EA still with its number two Rolls Royce RB211-22C turbo fan engine installed.
A review of fleet engine records provided to us from the Eastern Airlines Company crash files collection, provided the the following data. The number two engine shown in the photograph, still installed onto the wreckage of N310EA had the following data.
Engine Serial # 10073
Installed onto N310EA on 14th December 1972
Total Time (Hours) 1,144
Total Time(Cycles) 623

N310EA Photographed in Its Glory at Eastern Airlines St. Louis Line Station

N310EA taxing into St. Louis (date unknown)
Eastern Airlines ground crews greet N310EA for ground crew training
N310EA at St. Louis for Ground Crew Training (Photo Provided by Bill Hersch)
Miami, Florida 12th March 2009: During our review of large amounts of data harvested and provided by the group member's, the survivors of the 1972 crash, resulted in these great photographs of N310EA. These photographs shows N310EA taxing into the gate at St. Louis for ground crew traning. Keeping in mind that N310EA first flight from the Lockheed Burbank, California facility was on 30th July 1972 and there soon after delivered to Eastern and the crash which occurred five month thereafter, N310EA has a short live operational life.
Our research of the Eastern Airlines Company records storage facility, located at the Eastern Financial Credit Union building here in Miami, Florida, produced over three hundred Kodak 35mm color slides all about Eastern L-1011's, which upon full inspection, we hope it may yield further pictures of N310EA for publishing.

Research of Eastern Airlines Lockheed L-1011 Fleet in 2009

Photo Credit / Acknowledgment to Alexa Conway, Eastern Alley
Miami, Florida 12th March 2009: In our constant research concerning the subject of Flight 401 1972 crash, we have gotten many queries as to the current disposition of the Eastern Airlines, Lockheed L-1011 fleet. Calling upon an industry contact a gentlemen who has a tremendous knowledge of scrapping commercial aircraft and who is an authority on this subject, we contacted Mr. Doug Scroggins of Scroggins Aviation, who specializes in parting out / scrapping large commercial aircraft worldwide. Cross checking our research with Scroggins Aviation, we have found the actual status of the first ten Eastern L-1011 fleet.
Tail Number S/N Status as of 2009
N301EA s/n-1002 Sold to Int'l Air Lease 3/ 89 (as 3/09 Scrapped)
N302EA s/n-1003 Sold to Delta 3/91 N781DL (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N303EA s/n-1004 Sold to Int'l Air Lease 4/89 (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N304EA s/n-1005 Sold to Aviation Sales Co. 1/84 (as 3/09 Scrapped)
N305EA s/n-1006 Sold to Delta 12/91 (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N306EA s/n-1007 Sold to Aviation Sales Co. 1/84 (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N307EA s/n-1008 Sold to LTU Germany 11/75 D-AERO, Subsequently sold back to Lockheed 4/77 N22679, sold again to LTU 2/97; sold back to Eastern 12/80 and leased back until 3/81; re registered N371EA; sold to Aviation Sales Co. 1/84 (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N308EA s/n-1009 Sold to Delta 8/91 N783DL (Used on the TV Show LOST)
N309EA s/n-1010 Leased to TWA from 30th April to October 1973 and sold to First Chicago Leasing Corp. 10/88 (as of 3/09 Scrapped)
N310EA s/n-1011 Crashed Dec 29th 1972 (Eastern Airlines only L-1011 Lost )
As we continued our research, we shall seek to establish the status of the rest of the Eastern Airlines L-1011 fleet and post our finding in future articles within our blogspot. Should anyone have any information in which my enhance our research, please feel free to contact us at group email at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Archive Research at the Eastern Airlines Retirees Association Collection for Flight 401 Information

Recalling and utilizing his former experience as an aviation accident surveyor for the Lloyd's of London based AIRCLAIMS, Ltd. coupled with his many years dealing with airline / aircraft records, Mr. Benny Benitez, Founder and CEO of the 94th AeroClaims-Aviation Consulting Group reviews files of other Eastern accidents in search of Flight 401 data.
Ms. Catherine Smallwood the Chief Aviation of the Artist of the Digital Aircraft Factory, inspects one of hundreds of Eastern Airlines Kodak 35mm photo slides. Searching for any additional photos of aircraft N310EA. Catherine is working to establish a computer generated rendering of aircraft N310EA
Mr. Ron Infantino a surviving passenger from flight 401 searches the endless boxes of historical Eastern Airlines archived records for information about the 1972 crash.
Mr. Vito Borrelli, President Emeritus, Eastern Airlines Retirees Association with Mr. Ron Infantino review a Eastern Airlines scrap book con tainting articles about the 1972 crash which was donated to the Association.

Miami, Florida March 11th 2009: With the generous assistance of Mr. Vito Borrelli, the President Emeritus of the Eastern Airlines Retirees Association and Mr. Roland Moore, Esq., Legal Council of the Eastern Airlines Estate, the Flight 401 Tribute Group dispatched a research team to the Eastern Airlines company archive storage facility, located within the Eastern Financial Credit Union building in Miami, Florida to search for additional information concerning the December 29th 1972 crash. The "Research Team" was headed up by Mr. Ron Infantino, who the group affectionately calls "Commander".

Accompanied by Mr. Benny F. Benitez and Ms. Catherine Smallwood, two key volunteer members to the group, over 30 boxes of company historical records and file cabinets were inspected during the first of many visits to the site. Recalling a comment made by Ron, it was like taking a trip back in time referring to all of the information about the history of Eastern Airlines contained within the storage facility at South Royal Poinciana Blvd. facility.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eastern Airlines N310EA Post Crash Archived Techincal Records Review

A view of the well blended intake of the Lockheed L-1011 number two engine position. Unlike the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 of a similar second engine, tail mounted design, the Lockheed design had an esthetically pleasing form and function when compared to the DC-10 which appeared as an after though in design.
The front page of the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) Aircraft Accident Report (File No. 1-0016) concerning Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Lockheed L-1011-1 N310EA (s/n 1011)

NTSB form 1765.2 (11/70) Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Crash Report No. (NTSB-AAR-73-14) / Work unit No. 1018-C / Security Classification of this report UNCLASSIFIED.

Miami, Florida February 21st 2009: Holding weekly research and review meetings at the offices of Mr. Ron Infantino, and having obtained historical, technical post crash records and reports, the Flight 401 Group has noted a few eye raising issues discovered form the information being utilized and of which the Group wishes to bring to light concerning the crash.
Employing the combined talents of the entire group with the recollection of those who were there that night, those who experienced it first hand and survived to the application of the professional aviation knowledge being applied through both Mr. Benny Benitez technical aircraft accident investigation background and Ms. Catherine Smallwood Commercial pilot, FAA CFI, CFII, MEI, Gold Seal Flight Instructor, CRM operational background a new light is being shed.
Despite, the accident having occurred 37 years ago many new and interesting facts have already surfaced concerning the crash of 401 from the boxes of records that then were safe guarded by Eastern Airlines Corporate storage facility.
As the group process with the analysis and review of this data, future articles shall be created and thus posted. In the interim, should there be any specific queries, comments and / or concerns, please drop the group a line at our email ( )

Research of Eastern Airlines Historical Records of Flight 401 Crash

Front Page of the then 30 cents Miami Herald Newspaper, final Sunday December 31st 1972 edition. The Lower picture shows a medic carrying the youngest of the survivors of the flight 401 crash, then ten month Baby Miguel Junco. The child was airlifted from the crash site by a U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Rescue Helicopter side No. 1446 from the Coast Guard Air Station located at Opa Locka Airport.

Shown above is a cockpit / cabin layout showing the locations of a few of the individuals on board flight 401 on the night of December 29th 1972. Shown in the pictures starting with the cockpit are Capt. Robert A. Loft (killed), First Officer Albert J. Stockstill (killed), Second Officer Donald Repo (Died 31 hours after the crash), Angelo Donadeo Eastern Airlines Technician (survived). Cabin area were Flight Attendants Mercedes Ruiz, Beverly Repo, Adriana Hamilton and Sharon Transue all (survived), Also shown within the article are passenger's Marin Siminerio and Xiomara Casado who also (survived).

Front page of the then 10 cents "The Miami News" Saturday December 30th 1972 afternoon edition. Main front page photograph shows medics at Mercy Hospital handling a 10 year boy who survived the crash of flight 401. Shown behind the medical rescue staff is yet another U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Helicopter (side number unknown) from the "MIAMI" Air Station.

Miami, Florida February 14th 2009: One of the benefits in which the Flight 401 Tribute Group has is the talent and experience being lent and brought by Mr. Benny F. Benitez, who at one time during his aviation career, prior to the establishment of his aviation consulting firm, dealt with handling aviation accident investigations world wide for the benefit of Underwriters within and for the Lloyd's of London aviation insurance syndicate. Locating newspaper articles provided from the private collections of the survivors, tapping into NTSB records and historical files and speaking to his group members, the mission is assist the group in establishing a solid set of facts for publication, awareness and for the sake of historical preservation.

Liaising with Miami Herald news reporter Ms. Luisa Yanez, the group hopes to bring out facts that may have been lost or maybe forgotten with the passing of time since the crash 37 years ago. The significant aviation historical value of this accident is that the lost of flight 401 paved the we for what today is the fundamental bases of all aircrews, both civilian / commercial and military training known as Cockpit Resource Management (CRM). The flying public has benefited from this universal and fundamental training of all flight crews. A benefit that started with the significant lost which occurred on the night of December 29th 1972 in the Everglades of South Florida.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Assistance Arrives To The Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group

Shown above with the survivors from EAL Flt 401 is Benny Benitez Founder & CEO of the 94th AeroClaims-Aviation Consulting Group who has dedicate to help the Tribute Group
Also show with the group and providing additional support via the Digital Aircraft Factory is Catherine Smallwood who shall be creating a digital computer generated rendering of N310EA for promotional purpose

Miami, Florida February 7th 2009: On Saturday February 7th 2009 at the AFLAC office of Mr. Ron Infantino, help once again came to the survivor's of the December 29th 1972 Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crash via Benny Benitez and Catherine Smallwood who shall be assisting the group to establish a memorial to those lives that were touched and effected by the crash of Flight 401.
Benny brings over 25 years of world wide aviation industry contacts, he is affiliated with the Greater Miami Aviation Association, the Miami Maintenance Management Council, the Air Force Association and is a well established, experienced and respected Aviation Consultant within the Miami / South Florida aviation community and aboard.
Catherine forte, harness and blends the power of art, aviation and Hollywood special effect programs thus to create computer generated aviation art in support of the group. Via the use of such special effects programs, as Light Wave 9.0, MODO and Photoshop, Catherine, shall "digitally" create and render aircraft N310EA (c/n 1011) for the creation of prints and digital full motion clips. Currently, her work via the Digital Aircraft Factory a subsidiary of the 94th AeroClaims-Aviation Consultant Group is assisting yet another Miami based Eastern Airline project concerning the restoration of an Eastern Airlines DC-7B N836D. Catherine capabilities has already digitally rendered N836D flying over South Beach. Both Benny and Catherine are committed toward this worth wild cause.