clipperhawaii
Posts: 1943
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 1999 3:35 pm

The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 6:47 pm


If you talk to a New Yorker who was around back in 1986 and mention that “lady traffic reporter” you will stir up a few memories. Jane Dornacker worked for WNBC as their airborne traffic reporter in the “N Copter.” She would give the current traffic report from high up in an Enstrom F-28F helicopter (N8617B). Both she and her pilot would often be seen zipping over the Manhattan skyline as traffic would stop and flow on the Long Island Expressway, FDR Drive or inch outbound thru the Lincoln Tunnel. Most New Yorkers had no idea who exactly this lady was, but she gave a great traffic report.

Jane had recently moved from San Francisco were she was a well-regarded stand up comedienne. Jane sang with the rock group The Tubes and sang and wrote “Don’t touch me there.”
Most people however, would recognize Jane from the movie “The Right Stuff” where she played the memorable character of Nurse Murch.

On October 22 at Dornacker was circling over the bank of the Hudson River giving her live report. “The outbound Lincoln Tunnel looks a lot better for you .In New Jersey…” At this moment listeners can her a revving sound as she pauses. She then franticly screams, “Hit the water, hit the water, hit the water.” The Enstom helicopter with Jane and her pilot strike a fence and crash into the Hudson River killing her and severely injuring her pilot.

Hundreds of thousands of listeners hear her tragic final words.

The cause of the crash was later determined to be a faulty counterfeit clutch that had components that did not meet government standards. Routine maintenance was performed earlier and at that time a clutch was purchased and placed into the Enstrom helicopter.

The crash that took the life of Jane Dornacker should have never happened. This was Jane’s second crash of that year.

Click on the link to hear her final report. It will load to a temporary file.
http://www.ohms.com/kyuu7.htm

Clipperhawaii
"You Can't Beat The Experience"
 
Greg
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 9:28 pm

Uh...what's the point of the post?
 
backfire
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 9:38 pm

Is that link posted out of respect for the lady's professional capabilities, out of recognition for her dedication to her job, or as a way of getting your kicks while masquerading pathetically as a concerned individual?

If it's truly the lady's final words (I haven't clicked to check) then personally I find it abhorrent that the link has been posted purely for voyeuristic purposes.
 
Greg
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 9:46 pm

That's what I thought.
 
bobnwa
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 10:02 pm

Why would anyone with any sensitivity want to listen to that.
 
CoAir@IAH
Posts: 267
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2001 4:29 am

RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Thu May 09, 2002 11:46 pm

Bobnwa....

Sensativity has nothing to do with it, really.
I mean, why did millions of people watch the planes hit the two towers over and over and over.

Because they could.
There are going to be people that will listen to anything, and this is just one of those things that brings the curiosity out of some people.

I'm not sick and/or twisted...but I listened.

May her soul rest in peace.
 
FrequentFlyKid
Posts: 1097
Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2001 5:04 am

RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 12:46 am

I think you guys, minus COAir, are overeacting. The guy posted a topic related to aviation that he thought others might find interesting. He is sharing something he found, which, excuse me if I am wrong, but is the foundation of this forum: to share information regarding aviation. It's no different than posting a topic regarding an airline crash, going to the Air Disaster website and listening to CVR's, or watching crash footage. Yes, the recording is disturbing, but to suggest that this guy posted the topic for the morbid enjoyment of hearing a woman die and to insinuate that he is "masquerading pathetically as a concerned individual" is absurd.
 
dvk
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 12:55 am

I still remember both crashes. The amazing survival of the first, and the unbelievable horror of the second fatal crash so soon thereafter. I don't have to listen to the tape of her last report. It's etched in my memory from when it ran on the news after her death. As tragic as it is, it is an aviation story of interest, and I don't think Clipperhawaii should be blasted for his post. I think it's actually nice to be reminded of a good life, even though, and perhaps especially because it was cut tragically short.
I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.
 
heavymetal
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 1:16 am

I was a big WNBC listener in the 80s. It was a great station, one of the reasons I choose radio as a profession.I remember Jane Dornacker. In a small way, she may have actually saved my life.

I also remember a terrible morning in Cleveland a few years ago when our traffic plane, a Cessna 172, flew into a pipsqueakingly small lake effect snow squall on an otherwise gorgeous January morning...and clipped a cell phone tower. The aircraft's wing sheered off and it plummetted into a park. The pilot and our traffic reporter were killed. A few months earlier I had been offered the reporter job. Despite my love of flying, a nagging doubt, festered by such tragedies as Dornacker's, caused me to turn down the job.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine came close to being a statistic herself aboard the "KVIL-icopter" Jet Ranger in a chaotic autorotation over the northern suburbs of Dallas. The ship came down in the middle of a busy intersection. It clipped trees and lost its' tail. God, fate, destiny...call it what you will, but everyone walked away physically unharmed. Emotionally there were some wrecks that still haven't been fixed.

The issue of media aircraft, their accident rate, which types crash more...it's a little addressed subject. Keep in mind these ships, whether fixed or rotary, are always on call, and in the case of traffic reports, required to be up twice a day, rain or shine (remember bad weather is usually when it gets hairy on the highways, too, with more accidents.) Imagine running a scheduled airline on an incredibly competitive route where every second is money....and having only a fraction of the regulations required by the FAA in commercial service.

Because, in the end that's what it is...competitive. You all watch the tv news promos, hyping their "News First" or "First on the Scene" credibility....the same is true in radio, too. And few media outlets own their own aircraft. They contract out to independent operators, some...not ALL, by any stretch...but some of them with quite dubious histories. A plane or chopper grounded for maintenance does no one any good in the newsroom. All it takes is one program manager watching his competitors doing something he can't because of a broke airplane or 'overly cautious' pilot to set the conniption fits in motion. Aircraft operators working for them have a lot to answer to.

This was an excellent post, Clipper, regardless of the comments of the ever present "post-Nazis". Thanks for reminding me about a great talent, and the fact that one of the last great realms of seat-of-your-pants, hope-it-works revenue flying is only a remote control or radio preset click away.

(I was floored by the Right Stuff info...I just bought that on DVD. Thanks for sharing.)
 
EGGD
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 1:21 am

hhmmm, odd how you would post such words, and then a link like that. I too opened the file out of curiosity, and I echo CoAir@IAH's words, although maybe not appropriate for such a thread...
 
FrequentFlyKid
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2001 5:04 am

RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 1:36 am

Heavymetal - What year and station was the traffic plane crash. I have lived in the Cleveland area all my life and I don't remember, albeit I'm only 19.
 
backfire
Posts: 3467
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 2:11 am

"Post Nazis" ?

Get real. Saying that the tape is an "aviation topic" is utter nonsense and a puerile, transparent excuse for nothing more than showing off while pretending that you're somehow "advancing the cause of aviation". Absolute nauseating rot.

The tape tells you nothing about the accident. She was a traffic reporter, not the pilot. Why not just put up a transcript if you really must? Same information, less voyeurism. Oh, but it wouldn't attract so many ghoulish hits would it?

Perhaps you'd like to explain to her family why you're listening in. Hey, maybe you can put up pictures of the body as well? After all, it's a helicopter crash -- if you can justify listening to the mere sound of her voice when it tells you nothing about air safety, then surely photos of a dead news reporter in a wrecked helicopter MUST be even more justifiable?

If you have to listen, then at least have the guts to admit why you're doing it - for your own selfish satisfaction. Don't pretend that you're somehow doing more than getting your rocks off like 13-year old schoolboys with their first Playboy magazine.
 
CoAir@IAH
Posts: 267
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2001 4:29 am

RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 2:21 am

Backfile,

Good use of language in your post....kind of reminded me of an 18-year old kid trying to impress his first college English professor.

You are entitled to your opinion, but using big words and subtle analogies are not going to help you win "votes" over to your side.

Keep it short and sweet next time, and please remember we all have our opinions too.
 
heavymetal
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 2:30 am

FreqFlyer...

I worked for WTAM AM 1100...I believe the incident occurred in January of 1997. The aircraft was actually leased to Metro Traffic Control, which we contracted to do airborne traffic reports. The pilot was an employee of the aviation company, but the traffic reporter was on our payroll.

Backfire..

The audio(which by the way I choose NOT to listen to) that has caused your little hissy fit was only one element of a legitimate post. The forum is 'Civil Aviation'. The topic of media aircraft crashes is very much a legitimate aviation topic, perhaps here more than anywhere else, since the media themselves shun to air their own dirty laundry (while being only too happy to air every other aspect of aviation's faults).

My reference was to the initial uncalled for response post. There is a legion of people on this forum that can't wait to chime in and bark to the rest of us what constitutes legitimate discussion. You apparently are one of them. If this unpleasant but very real aspect of aviation safety is offensive to you, my advice is to return forthwith to the posts about liveries and the quality of toliet paper in 'the loo'.
 
FrequentFlyKid
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2001 5:04 am

RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 2:53 am

Heavy - I remember Metro Traffic Control, but I'm still trying to remember the crash. I remember a helicopter crash or two, but I think those were CPD's.
 
heavymetal
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 3:17 am

It didn't get much play.....like I said, the media frowns on reporting about its' own failures. The crash happened on the East Side, in a park near Tri-C, I believe. It really was a beautiful sunny morning, but being from Cleveland you know those east side lake effect squalls can just materialize out of no where. The pilot, if I remember correctly, was young (26) and licensced VFR only.....the squalls were literally something you were in and out of in moments, so, like many times before, he punched into it. A cell phone tower on a hill was his doom, and indeed, they figured out later he was only two feet below the top of it where he hit.

The crash happened at 8:42am, less than 90 seconds after the reporter had finished his 8:40 report. At 8:50 our morning show host went to him and got silence. This was not unusual...occassionally they missed their cues. At 9:00 am in the newscast they went to him again. Again, silence. At that point our news editor called over to Metro to bitch. The girl who answered the phone was crying. That's when we found out.

The cause was pilot error...not maintaining sufficient altitude (a notorious trait of traffic reporters, as I'm sure you notice on the drive around town in the morning)...and of course, entering the snowcloud.

We stayed ground-based for many months following that, but now WTAM uses, ironically, I believe an Enstrom chopper for their well known 'Sky Cheif' traffic reporter, Rick Able.
 
MD88Captain
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 3:21 am

Thanks for posting. I found it interesting for a few different reasons. I loved "The Right Stuff" movie and remembered her part very well. My Right Stuff DVD is about 3 feet away from this computer and I will now know a little more about the woman who plays the great part of Nurse Murch. I remember The Tubes (not fondly) as well. And I know a local helicopter traffic reporter. I understand why some might be offended by this post, but I was not.
 
prosa
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 3:39 am

Hey, maybe you can put up pictures of the body as well?

That would be a job for rotten.com!
But seriously, it was an interesting audio clip. I really had to sympathize with the disk jockey, who was trying to put a calming spin on things when it was fairly apparent (from the "hit the water" scream) that something pretty bad had happened. He really earned his salary that day.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
 
backfire
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 4:17 am

This would be quite a laughable discussion if there wasn't something deeply unpleasant about it. I'm sorry if my use of long words offends you, CoAir, but if any of them are misused then I stand corrected. Otherwise, please don't patronise me. I've been insulted by professionals, and they do a better job of it.

Before any of you start to criticise, I support the release of CVR information in certain cases -- and I have frequently come in for vehement criticism for maintaining that belief. It's a consequence of the job I do that I've had to listen to, and have more reasons to be interested in hearing, CVRs than most people. But I can't think of a single good reason for playing this one.

I can understand that the recording would be of interest in the appropriate context. But this recording is not being presented as such. There is no accident analysis with it. There is no technical discussion. There is no report. It's not even the anniversary of the accident, for Pete's sake. It is simply a voice of an unlucky girl who probably spent her last few seconds on this earth experiencing a terror and fear that most of you, I sincerely hope, will never come close to knowing.

Looking through the posts here, I don't see an enormous debate on the causes of the accident, recommendations on how to make helicopter reporting safer, or details on how this girl's death might have been prevented. Aviation discussion? In the interests of safety? Don't kid yourselves.

It's this voyeuristic treatment of CVR tapes that prompts groups like ALPA to call for them to be kept confidential. I simply don't believe that anyone listening to that tape, with no in-depth knowledge about the background to the accident, can possibly claim to have learned anything.

Part of being a true aviation enthusiast is knowing where the line is drawn. Being able to memorise the Air Kazakhstan timetable and knowing the number of rivets in a 737 nose-cone are pretty hollow claims to fame if you can't respect the treatment of information such as this.

Oh, and if this is a "hissy fit", then tough. You're entitled to your opinion. Just remember that I am too.
 
heavymetal
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 4:27 am

In other words, the discussion isn't up to your standards.

Then why are you still here?
 
clipperhawaii
Posts: 1943
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 1999 3:35 pm

RE: Clipperhawaii Responds

Fri May 10, 2002 6:15 am

My point in my post is that here was an up and coming and extremely talented individual whose life was cut short due to the proliferation of counterfeit aviation parts.
These counterfeit parts will, and have killed many people.

My point for posting a link to her “final words” was to emphasize just how quickly and tragically she met her fate. Nothing else.

Aviation is very unforgiving, particularly in maintenance procedures and part procurement. It is my wish that everyone in the aviation industry could hear Jane’s words so that we that are in aviation will strive for the highest standards. There are lives at stake. I don’t want Jane Dornacker to have died in vain. That would be most tragic.

Heavymetal, thank you for sharing you story and comments.

Keep aviation safe!
Clipperhawaii
"You Can't Beat The Experience"
 
heavymetal
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 7:13 am

Thanks Clipper!

And my point was on a related tangent, the lightning fast world of media aviation and how costs and cutthroat competition can often mean cutting corners on safety.

As to the "sensationalism" or "morbidity" of your audio post...I would remind the indignant they are on a website that excels in finding and highlighting actual pictures of crashed airliners, often before the last fire in the wreckage is out. Some people find it morbid I suppose.

Some count their blessings.
 
FrequentFlyKid
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RE: The Tragedy Of Jane Dornacker

Fri May 10, 2002 10:40 pm

I know lake effect very well, I live in Lake County.

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