Alaska Airlines Flight 261  

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I am so sorry for the loss that the victims family are feeling at this time. Just know God is with them now. I didn't know anyone on the flight but I feel as though I did. I can't even imagine what the families must be going through. It has touched everyone I believe. I hope you all can find peace and comfort. Just know you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted : 05/02/2000 2:44 am
New Member

In memory of Horizon Air employees:
Sheri Christensen, Rachel Janosik, Anjesh Prasad, and Stacy Schuyler.

When the warmth of the sun touches my face, I see your smile and feel your embrace. I hear the whisper of love in the wind and I know that you are close to me again.

The rain speaks of tears and the pain, but soon the sun comes the earth to reclaim. As the days come and go and the world moves on, I know you're still here, you'll never be gone.

On the day that the angel came and took your hand, We cried as you left for an unknown land. But Heaven rejoiced as you came into sight, For your soul was a diamond, shining so bright.

Written by Karen McCombs...

Posted : 06/02/2000 5:33 pm
New Member

After serving in The U.S. Coast Guard for four years I had the chance to see many disasters and unfortuately many deaths as well. It is never easy for both the families, friends and even rescue crews a like. Even as a rescue crew member, we sometimes put ourselves in the position of being one that lost a friend or family member. During times like that we come together as shipmates and friends and support those that need it the most. In this case and like so many others I personally would like express my support as a Coast Guard reservist, prior active duty member and a friend. Keep you head up and hold those that are close to you and push forward with your courage and life you still hold today.

Coast Guardman San Diego, CA

Posted : 08/02/2000 6:43 pm
New Member

The following article was posted today on the PASS Flight Standards website by Mary Rose Diefenderfer, an FAA Safety Inspector who was charged with inspecting Alaska Air from 1993 to 1997. She and 2 other inspectors she supervised were pulled off Alaska Air when they expressed their concerns about safety at the airline. Her B-737 specialist found what he believed to be falsification of pilot training records.

This article can be seen at....

After you read this, you might be interested is reading what a ValuJet mechanic said when he came forward just three days after VJ592 crashed. It's IDENTICAL. You can read his statement at....

1997 Accusations from ex-Alaska Airlines Mechanic
Name: Mary Rose Diefenderfer
Member: No
Date: 2/14/00
Remote Name:

In June 1997, the Alaska Airines Certificate Management Section received a copy of a letter, which was sent to Mr. John Kelly (CEO Alaska Airlines). This letter was written by an ex-Alaska Airlines mechanic named Gustafson. Mr. Gustafson cited instances of Alaska Airines management forcing mechanics to sign off maintenance that wasn't performed. He also cited many other unsafe practices and irregularities. The instances he cited were the catalyst for Mr. Gustafson leaving Alaska Airlines. His mechanic certificate, career, and integrity were more valuable to him than to falsify records for the airline, according to Mr. Gustafson.

Early 1998, the news broke about the alledged falsification of maintenance records at Alaska Airlines Oakland base.

This morning NBC stated that about that timeframe, the ill fated Alaska Airlines MD-80 was due to have parts replaced in the tail of that airplane. Alledgedly, the parts were never replaced.

Also in that timeframe (June 1997), I was removed as POI for the second time in four years after my supervisor told me that I was too "hard on Alaska Airlines" and he "felt compelled to change that." When I was removed I had many open items, including follow up on enforcement actions and self disclosures. I was banned from having anything to do with the airline or the inspectors who oversaw the airline. I sent an e-mail to the appropriate FAA management officials and informed them of my open items and grave concerns of the consequences of leaving so many issues open for a brand new POI. I was ignored. Later, under FOIA, I learned that most, if not all, of the open items "disappeared."

I was replaced by one of the inspectors who had a great deal of airline experience and insight. He lasted ONE DAY as POI. His mistake was telling the supervisor that he had some issues he wanted to straighten out at the airline. That must have been unacceptable because the supervisor then told him that he had made a mistake...someone else would be the POI.

The supervisor shortly thereafter pressured two other inspectors to leave, including the "POI for a day". One of the inspectors found the airline taking credit for line checks that were never performed, and the other was the inspector who investigated the case and wrote the EIR. Of course they had to be removed- the airline was unhappy. This became evident when an Alaska Airines official (alledgedly) later expressed his great happiness that he finally had the inspector team in place that he wanted.

Of course, that FAA supervisor remains in his position, assuring that the airline has the "right people" for the job. And, of course, the line check EIR was closed with "No Action".

Some of these events are documented in PTRS, under inspector MRD, Seattle FSDO. It would make interesting reading, I am sure, in the unlikely event that the "higher ups" decide to do the right thing and hold the appropriate management officials accountable.

Someone in Washington should start asking the Alaska Airlines Certificate Management supervisor what follow up was done on Mr. Gustafson's complaint. That question also should go to the Divsion Manager, who alledgedly also knew of this letter, and other instances similiar to the events that Mr. Gustafson cited.

It is time the public start laying the blame for all the bloodshed and altered lives at the very root of the problem- a too friendly FAA relationship with some the big carriers. Some FAA management officials are trained to "jump" when the airlines yells "jump"! Yet the small airlines, repair stations, etc. are being arbitrarily run out of business every day so that these FAA management officials can puff up thier chests and say, "Look, we are doing our jobs."

So, Northwest Mountain Region, Flight Standards Division and Seattle FSDO 15's- what did you do to follow up on Mr. Gustafson's report, as well as all the other reports you received from your inspectors? Did you do the same type of follow up that you did with my reports and the reports of my team? Did you ever consider that ignoring the reports, removing inspectors, and allowing enforcement actions to disappear or die, might contribute to an airline becoming lax in thier internal safety programs?

You ought to think about those questions and the beautiful lives that were lost in airplane accidents.

Contact the Vice President Copyright © 1999 PASS Flight Standards

Posted : 16/02/2000 1:02 pm
New Member

The following article was posted today on the PASS Flight Standards website bulletin board at...

by Mary Rose Diefenderfer, an FAA Safety Inspector who was charged with inspecting Alaska Air from 1993 to 1997. She and 2 other inspectors she supervised were pulled off Alaska Air when they expressed their concerns about safety at the airline. Her B-737 specialist found what he believed to be falsification of pilot training records.

When you get through reading this, check out a former FAA inspector's story who met the same fate as Mary and has been speaking out for over thirty years. Mr. Rodney Stich has written a 650page book about FAA, DOT, and NTSB corruption. His site is at...

Nightmare fairy tale!
Name: Mary Rose Diefenderfer
Member: No
Date: 2/11/00
Remote Name:

I just had a nightmare! It went like this:

Once upon a time, there was a cute little airline tucked away in a remote part of the country. It was such a nice little airline- flew to some rather interesting and fun places. People liked to fly this little airline, so the airline grew by leaps and bounds.

The FAA especially liked this little airline. It became a regular "good 'ol boys" club. In fact, so many FAA people liked the little airline, that they went to work for the airline while having oversight responsibilities. What a nice arrangement for everyone!

The little airline was well protected by the FAA, because the FAA really liked the little airline. It grew by leaps and bounds. But then something began to happen. The good 'ol boys made a mistake. They hired an outsider into the "club" who didn't quite fit in. He was able to read the regulations and believed they applied to every airline equally. He believed passengers had a "Bill of Rights" to fly safely. He did not believe the airline was the customer, as the good 'ol boys did. The good 'ol boys reminded him often.

He began to see things. He began to correct things. His career in that FAA office began to end.

He saw many things. In one instance, he saw the little airline tell him that the remote airplane simulator was equipped with windshear detection instruments. These instruments were required for pilot wind shear recovery training. Without these instruments, pilots received no training.

One day a remote inspector called. He mentioned that he had been in this simulator and it didn't have any of this required windshear equipment. How could that be, said the first inspector!? The little airline told me several times that it was installed! They even described it in a letter! What happened to all those pilots who were not trained? What will happen to the passengers?

And his career was ended........

Then the good 'ol boys made a second mistake. They hired someone else who didn't quite fit in. This was apparent very quickly. That inspector's career had to end, also, according to the good 'ol boys. Only one thing was different this time- this inspector was tenatious in the quest for safety for the little airline's passengers.

Almost immediately, this inspector found things the good 'ol boys had "missed". More pilot training not completed but recorded as such, "irregular" instrument approaches, using funny de-icing fluids (the kind you could actually drink, if you were so inclined!). And finally, pilots of the nice litte airline waiting until they got to home base to write airplane mechanical problems in the logbook so the mechanics could look to see if the passengers might be in jeoparady.

The "good 'ol boys" exclaimed, "how creative this little airline is! We really like them! They can do no wrong!" Oh, how this distressed this inspector! How could it possibly be?! And how could the FAA possibly think all this was OK? But it soon became WAS OK, and the inspector's career would soon be ended like the last inspector.

One day this inspector got a tip that pilots of a certain remote base were being "encouraged" by their manager to fly a meer 1300' below thier Minimum Descent Altitude for the remote instrument approach. The little airline had to get in! There were passengers on the plane, and the load of fish to be picked up!

So the inspector went to investigate. The inspector was shocked when it became apparent that the news was true! How could it be? Big mountains were everywhere. So the inspector did the right thing- for the passenger, not the fish. The flights were stopped. The little airline management was furious. By the time this inspector returned to home base, thinking a good job was done, the inspector was in "trouble" for upsetting the airline. In fact, the inspector's supervisor and the inspector's assistant inspector agreed that the instrument approach chart did say one thing, and the little airline was doing another; however, both patted one another on the back and told the inspector that they saw no problem because the little airline "never hit anything" while on that instrument approach. The inspector was in trouble...

The inspector took the issue to FAA Headquarters, who in this instance, agreed with the inspector. But the inspector was still in day this supervisor would have the inspector reassigned and the agreeable assistant inspector would take over. The "good 'ol boys" club would return! This would be good for everybody, except the paying passenger.

This inspector saw many things, but was soon labeled "not a team player". The inspector was placed in "attitude adjustment sessions" after the airline complained. The inspector's career would soon end, and the careers of everyone who agreed with this inspector, as well. More "agreeable" inspectors would be put in place.

Then I woke up! What a nightmare! Couldn't possibly be true! Or was it.....?

Contact the Vice President Copyright © 1999 PASS Flight Standards

Posted : 16/02/2000 1:07 pm
New Member

Most sincere and empathetic sympathy to all of you who have suffered so much during this tragic event.

I work at Point Mugu and live in Port Hueneme... those of us that live and work in this area still have thoughts of your loss. We visit the beaches and Channel Islands each day and ponder on the fate of that terrible day. Our hearts are with you, as are our prayers. We know that those who have passed on are in a better world. We pray that you will eventually overcome the initial tribulation that you must pass through, although you will always feel sorrow in your being... know that love and togeatherness are eternal.
God bless you,

Terry L. Bruno
Port Hueneme, CA

Posted : 14/05/2000 5:49 pm
New Member

Hi- I am looking for a Shery Thompson who graduated from Torrance High School in 1972. I knew her from when we were part of "Armstrong's Army". Does anyone know if this was the Shery on Flight 126? Please let me know at Thanks and I am so sorry for all your losses.

Posted : 31/07/2005 2:07 am
New Member

WE are now at the 6th anniversay of the loss of AS Flt 261. The pain is still raw. My heart and prayers still go out to the families of the 88 who were lost. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.
Michele Maki
Former CARE Team for Alaska Airlines

Posted : 31/01/2006 4:16 am
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