Dana Hyde, 55, was flying home from a trip visiting schools with her husband and son. They were flying on a Bombardier BD-100-1A10 (Challenger 300) airplane when she was killed in an incident originally blamed on turbulence. A preliminary report from the NTSB, however, ruled out that possibility. The report said that the force that killed her was several times the force of gravity. Instead, the incident is being blamed on a series of blatant pilot errors and technical difficulties. The airplane was not damaged, and the four others on the plane were unharmed.
The flight started with an aborted takeoff, and when the plane finally did get into the air, the pilots were bombarded with alerts. Going down a checklist, the pilots switched off a mechanism used to stabilize the plane. That turned the autopilot off when no one had their hands on the controls.
“As soon as the switch position was moved, the airplane abruptly pitched up,” the report read. “The [pilot-in-command] reported that his left hand was on the flight controls and his right hand was guarding the right side of the flight controls. He immediately with both hands regained control of the airplane in what he estimated to be a few seconds after the airplane’s pitch oscillated up and down. During the oscillations, the PIC instructed the (second-in-command) to move the stabilizer trim switch back to the primary position, which the SIC accomplished.”
In the few seconds that the pilots lost control of the plane, the plane shook up and down violently.
“The airplane immediately pitched up to about 11° and reached a vertical acceleration of about +3.8g [3.8x the force of gravity]. The airplane subsequently entered a negative vertical acceleration to about -2.3g. The airplane pitched up again to about 20° and a vertical acceleration of +4.2g was recorded. The stall protection stick pusher activated during this pitch up; subsequently, vertical acceleration lowered to about +2.2g,” the report continued.
“Four Gs. That’s four times your body weight. Objects that were 100 pounds were now weighing 400 pounds, and moving in an up or down direction,” Jeff Guzzetti, a former accident investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB, told the Washington Post. “That’s a tremendous amount of G force for an airplane to experience.”
Soon after regaining control, the pilots were notified that there was a medical emergency among the passengers. After attempting to perform first aid, the other pilot was told that they needed to land. The plane was greeted by paramedics, and Hyde was rushed to the hospital. She succumbed to her injuries the same day.
It was not stated whether or not Hyde or the other passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of the incident.
Both pilots were experienced, with the PIC recording 5,061 total flight hours, including 88 hours in the accident make and model airplane, and the SIC recording 8,025 total flight hours, including 78 hours in the accident make and model airplane.
Hyde served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and she served as counsel to the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the United States’s preparedness in the lead-up to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, her Columbia World Projects biography said.