Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group Artifact, The Sole Surviving "Samsonite Suit Case"

Eastern Flight 401 Surviving Flight Attendant Mercedes V. Ruiz still travels with her Eastern Airline Flight Attendant issued Samsonite suite case. Both survived the worlds first jumbo jet crash
A testament to the quality of a Samsonite suit cases, still after 37 years and surviving the world first jumbo jet crash Mercedes Eastern Airlines issued equipment is still functional
In a strange twist of fate, despite surviving the crash of Eastern Flight 401, the surviving suit case contained a roll of film that flight attendant Mercedes took the day before the crash which produced the ONLY photographic record of Flight 401 cabin crew

Miami, Florida 16th May 2009: On the night of 29th December 1972, tons of metal within the form of a Lockheed L-1011 aircraft came crashing down into the Florida Everglades. The impact, an explosion, post crash fire and being submerged in the waters of the Everglades, whistle being buried within the twisted, razor sharp and charred wreckage of what was formerly Eastern Airline aircraft N310EA, a piece of Eastern Airline cabin crew issued equipment survives today 37 year later. In a testimony toward the quality and workmanship of the Samsonite Luggage Company, the sole surviving suit case from Flight 401 is shown above.
Well worn, but fully functional, surviving Flight 401 flight attendant Mercedes V. Ruiz, proudly shows off her Samsonite, Eastern Airlines issued suit case. A reflection as to how times have changed, as cabin crews as well as flight crews back then, 37 years ago hauled their personal effects by hand! No sounds of squeaky wheel being generated by roll aways in towed were heard back in those days!
NOTE: The suit case shown above and other surviving artifacts from the worlds first jumbo crash shall be displayed by the survivors of Eastern Flight 401 at this years Airliners International Show in Orlando July 23-25, 2009.

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 Tribute Group Commences The Ground Work for a Video Documentary Production

Surviving Eastern Flight 401 Flight Attendant Mercedes V. Ruiz points out to Journalist Christina Xuarez a picture on the screen taken of her and the cabin flight crew days before the crash of Flight 401
Honorary Committee member Catherine Smallwood briefs Journalist Christina Xuarez on the details of the Lockheed L-1011 and the points of the "chain of events" which resulted in the crash of Flight 401
Shown from left to right: Ron Infantino, surviving passenger, Beverly Rasposa, surviving Flight Attendant, Journalist Christina Xuarez and surviving Flight Attendant Mercedes V. Ruiz
Miami, Florida 16th May 2009: Having conducted their 11th production meeting, the Eastern Airline Flight 401 Tribute Group had the pleasure of the presence of Journalist Christina Xuarez who has taken a keen interest in the "Story" of Flight 401. She will be closely working with the group to establish a documentary video. Christina and her TV producers are planning to have a TV production ready for airing toward the end of the year so as to coincide with the anniversary of the crash 29th December.
During the next few months Christina will be coordinating the arrival of photographer and video crews to arrive into Miami so as to visit the crash site, interview the survivors and commence to collect footage for production. This marks the Eastern Flight 401 Group first steps in going worldwide by the incorporation of media. Christina bring a level of energy and media expertise that would add yet another level of ability to the group.

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.