Texting taken to new heights

Texting while driving was taken to new heights recently by the flight crew of the Delta (formerly Northwest) Airlines flight that zoomed past its destination with 144 passengers because they were too engrossed in their laptops to pay attention.
The Federal Aviation Administration quickly yanked their pilots?certificates, but the problem lies much deeper.
When American Airlines took delivery of its first McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in Long Beach, Calif. it made a quick stop at Los Angeles International on the way to Tulsa.
On reaching the gate at Los Angeles after the short hop, the pilot turned to George Warde, then president of the airline, and said that he had now done everything a pilot needed to on a transcontinental or international flight with the exception of the need to change radio frequencies and talk to controllers more often.
On an Air Force flight from the East Coast to Japan one pitch black night there wasn? a sound in the cockpit. The only thing moving was the bobbing of the altimeter as it adjusted for minute changes and the radar sweeping around showing the outline of the Kamchatka Peninsula of what is now Russia.
A captain on the then new Boeing 767 complained he did not like flying the ship because they were so automated that there was not much to do except monitor the instruments and the radio.
There had been much talk recently about setting new rules about crew rest and even enflight napping, it? hard to tell at this time how much this incident with the Delta flight crew will impact those discussions.
The problem really lies with the technology now being built into the larger airliners ?and many smaller planes as well.
There isn? as much for pilots to do as in the days of yore, when everything had to be monitored and adjusted almost continuously.
While Capt. Timothy Cheney and First Officer Richard Cole have shown the world is that planes can go a long way without a flight crew. The need will remain for a long time to have skilled, trained, experienced pilots actively aware of their surroundings at the front of a plane.
One only need look to earlier this year when Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger, III and First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles had but seconds to recognize a problem, react to that problem and bring their US Airways flight safely down in the Hudson River with no serious injuries to the 155 aboard.
Interestingly enough, both flights were aboard Airbus A320s.
November? aviation history:
?Nov. 1, 1870 ?The U.S. weather service was founded.
?Nov. 1, 1941 ?The federal government began its first operations of airport control towers, which had previously been operated by the airports.
?Nov. 1, 1958 ?Retired Lt. Gen. Elwood R. ?ete?Quesada became the first administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, (now the Federal Aviation Administration) which succeeded the Civil Aeronautics Administration, a part of the Department of Commerce.
?Nov. 2, 1947 ?Howard Hughes pilots the world? largest plane ?the Hercules, better known as the ?pruce Goose??on its first and only flight.
?Nov. 14, 1910 ?Eugene B. Ely flying a Curtiss biplane makes the first takeoff from a ship, the USS Birmingham.
?Nov. 21, 1783 ?Francois de Rozier and the Marquis d?rlandes become the first men to ride in a free (untethered) balloon in a flight over Paris.
?Nov. 22, 1935 ?Pan Am launches transpacific air service with its China Clipper. The one-way fare for the six-day flight with four overnight stops was $799.  

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