San Francisco Crash Sends Shockwaves to Valley Airport

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

WEYERS CAVE -- News of Asiana Airlines flight 214 crashing Saturday in San Francisco is sending shock waves nearly 3,000 miles away to an airport right here in the valley.

The consensus among pilots at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave: relief that the crash was not as bad as it could have been. At the same time, they point out procedures that help keep passengers safe, even in chaos.

Silver Airline pilot Captain Jason Hoffman said that starts with preparing for the worst.

"It's always something that we practice for, and that we're constantly monitoring ourselves over," he said. "Almost every class we take, every sim session we go through, we're just practicing safety, so that when something does happen we've been there before, we've done it before, we know how the situation goes and we can move in a very structured and efficient manner."

The mentality doesn't stop at the cockpit door for Hoffman or flight attendant Corrine Dupuis. Before every flight, she reminds passengers about safety.

"You're not trying to be mean to them by saying 'put this under your seat' and you're not picking on them, but it's for their safety," she said. "If a bag is at the front of the door and people have to trip over it, seconds in a fire or breathing it can be life or death. It's not only the flames, but can you get out to get that air or not?"

Dupuis says procedures like those can help people stay alive when things go wrong - like on Saturday, when 182 passengers were hospitalized and 123 others walked away from the crash on the runway.

"The landing phase is one of the more challenging and more demanding phases," said pilot Philip Soucy.

Pilots say a lot of factors come into play when trying to land - and when you're low to the ground, there is less margin for error.

"A lot of the time as you're coming down, you're just cross-referencing everything, and of course we have another pilot there to double-check us as well," Hoffman said.

Captain Hoffman also said that with all the money, training, research and time that goes into passenger safety, flying is still a very safe industry.

Many passengers seem to agree.

Sunny Randhawa calls himself a "frequent flyer." He says he has been flying for 18 years, and crashes like the one Saturday in San Francisco do not shake his faith in the airline industry.

"Life has to carry on," Randhawa said. "We've got to go about our work and all, and we've got to travel and go where we need to go. You just rely on it. Every time it happens the NTSB puts more rules and regulations and safety procedures that are better for you. It's more safe now, it's going to get more safe."

Randhawa said he feels safer traveling in the air than he does on the road, because in the air he does not have to worry about aggressive drivers. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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