Rush Limbaugh

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RUSH: As you people know, I am an aviation buff. I’m fascinated by it. I’m also very distressed that Barack Obama is destroying private aviation. I mean, here is a guy who tells CEOs and others, ‘The days of getting on your private plane and going to Las Vegas for a good time? Those days are over.’ But his days of getting on three private planes and two helicopters to New York for a date are fine and dandy. I think the guy’s a raging hypocrite and I think he has got some anger issues he’s dealing with about this country and success. But about aviation. You know, this crash, the disappearance of this Air France flight that was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, the Drive-Bys, the state-run media are all practically in agreement that this plane was brought down by a lightning strike.

And I have had so many questions about this. I’ve spent a lot of time on websites where a very careful and thoughtful meteorological analysis of the conditions has been done with various causes for the accident being discussed. Nobody’s gonna know ’til they get the black box, the flight recorder, and they found some wreckage where they thought they would find some. So they might be able to get the black box. But there are some things about this that don’t make any sense to me. For one, a lightning strike is not guaranteed to destroy an airplane. It happen appears frequently.

The FAA tracks it. There’s websites. They study it. Turbulence is probably a greater factor here. You’ve got a tropical storm or two tropical storms with an inversion. From what I understand, you could be dealing here with 100-mile-an-hour updrafts or downdrafts, which can destroy lift. You can have a hail problem, although that’s doubtful at the altitude of 35,000 feet where it was flying. You could have ingestion of water or ice in the engines, although the temperature outside the airplane at thirty or 35,000 is minus 43 centigrade so you’re not really going to have a water problem, but could have ice. Hail doesn’t form. But there’s something strange about this that lightning doesn’t explain.


RUSH: I want to grab a phone call real quickly. We have a pilot, an Airbus A330 pilot. That was the aircraft that was Air France flight 447. Mike, welcome to the program, sir. You say you have a theory on the crash?

CALLER: Yes, I do. Mega dittos from a central Arkansas airline pilot.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: It’s a pleasure to talk to you, sir.

RUSH: Same here.

CALLER: (bad cell connection) Well, the airplane itself is just about smarter than any human can possibly be. It does everything in the world for you. It gives position reports for you. It’s the mandatory, the compulsory reporting points as you’re going across the pond.

RUSH: Right. You got weather radar in the cockpit.

CALLER: Weather radar in the cockpit.

RUSH: And the airplane, the airplane will send… I’m sorry for interrupting you here. Our phone system is horrible, which means that half the time when I speak to you, you can’t hear me. But I’m so interested in this. The airplane has systems where if there is a failure, electrical, the airplane sends a notification —


RUSH: — to the airline and the manufacturer, correct?

CALLER: That is… Well, I don’t know about the manufacturer but they can certainly become involved immediately. It has a data link system through a satellite radio, the Satcom system on the airplane, and it sends it automatically to the maintenance personnel at the respective airline.

RUSH: Yeah, exactly.

CALLER: So they know that the airplane was having problems with its electrical system, be it a lightning strike or whatever unrelated circumstance may have happened. And then that could have certainly affected the radar, and if they were the teeth of these thunderstorms trying to pick their way through them — as we call it, ‘just picking your way through the soup’ — and trying to avoid the most intense rain showers and most intense echoes, they could very well have flown straight into the teeth of one of these 50,000-foot monsters —

RUSH: All right. You have answered my question.

CALLER: Yes, I did.

RUSH: Because I was going to posit the question or pose the following question: ‘Why in the world…? Everybody knew, on the ground and in the air, this squall line of thunderstorms was there. They knew the tops were 51,000 feet or 50,000. Everybody knew they were there. Why fly straight into them? This is the one thing I couldn’t get my arms around. And this airplane was flying at 35,000 feet, so it couldn’t go over ’em. It was a wide band, it would have been a huge detour to go around them and you can’t go under ’em. So why not turn back?

CALLER: Well, it’s hard to armchair quarterback in the forensics of any aviation disaster like that, but that’s just what I posit, that they more than likely had failure of their radar systems, and then their only way of knowing where weather may have been was observing flashes of lightning and saying, ‘Well, you know, I know there’s weather that way or that way or that way,’ and it’s a very dire situation.

RUSH: Well, if you’re in the midst —

CALLER: If you’ve got 50,000 foot storms out there and if you’re at 35,000 feet, you’re in the heart of the tiger there.

RUSH: If you are in the midst of the thunderstorm with tops at 50,000 feet, you’re a 35,000, you’re basically looking at gray.

CALLER: You’re looking at gray.

RUSH: Yeah. I mean, it’s gotta be difficult. But that explains it, though. If they had an electrical failure and the weather radar went out then they couldn’t cherry-pick their way through the storm and avoid the big cells.

CALLER: They most certainly could not.

RUSH: Well, that’s… Let me give you a website. Mike, I’m sure you’ll be fascinated with this because one of the places I went today to get an understanding of this is a website called WeatherGraphics.com. In fact, we’ll link to this at RushLimbaugh.com. I’m probably going to melt this poor guy’s server. It’s WeatherGraphics.com/Tim/AF447 (for Air France 447). The guy that does this is Tim Vasquez. This is an amazing meteorological analysis of the conditions at the time and place the Air France Airbus 330 was last known to be. It has a list of conclusions here that are just… It’s one of the most comprehensive meteorological analyses I have ever seen, and it’s fascinating, and it goes through all the possibilities: turbulence, icing, lightning, precipitation, hail, and it gives the reason why each could or could not be a factor. Now, none of what the captain here from Little Rock mentioned is mentioned. It may be. It’s ten pages when you print it all out. I didn’t have time to read it all this morning before the program started.

But if indeed they lost the electrical, it would take their weather radar out, then they would not know where were they going. At that point they’re just sitting ducks in a thunderstorm, and you don’t fly into them. This is the thing that… you know, the one question I had. No pilot that knows where a thunderstorm is goes into one. I mean we have them all the time here in South Florida late in the afternoon in the summertime and you can see the tops. You can sometimes see the tops at 55,000 feet. You’re coming in, you do have to weave your way through them or else you detour way around them but you never fly right into one. You just don’t do it. So this crew obviously didn’t know. Well, not obviously, but apparently didn’t know where they were headed and that would explain why if they lost the electric and weather radar then went out. So the question would be what caused them to lose electric. And that’s why people I guess are speculating and focusing on lightning. Here’s another pilot, Craig in Boston. Hi, Craig. It’s nice to have you on the EIB Network. Hello, sir.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. How are you today?

RUSH: Good. Thank you.

CALLER: Hey, I’ve been a longtime listener. I’ve been listening to you for probably 20 years off and on, and I want to thank you very much for the service you’ve done to our country.

RUSH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER: I’ve been an airline pilot for 27 years, and almost 25 years with my current employer. I currently fly the Canadian regional jet, and I have been struck by lightning three different times. Twice in two different propeller airplanes, and then once in an RJ, and the worst thing that happened to me in those was loss of my electronics, and once we recovered, we were able to reset the electrics and continue on. There was some —

RUSH: Let me ask you a question on your regional jet. When you got struck by lightning, were you knowingly in the thunderstorm?

CALLER: No. No, we were actually several miles away. That’s like the thing about lightning.

RUSH: What altitude were you?

CALLER: We were descending into Cleveland, so we were probably around 15. Somewhere between ten and 15,000 feet.

RUSH: All right, now, in that circumstance, do you go ahead and turn on the engine ignition to avoid a gullywasher flameout of the engines or were you not in rain?


RUSH: You did? Okay

CALLER: That’s actually one of our procedures that if we are in the vicinity of thunderstorms, that we do have the continuous ignition on because the lightning strike can — with the airplane that I fly, it can — disrupt the airflow to the point that it causes the engine to flame out. Now, whether or not that’s true of the Airbus or not, I don’t know.

RUSH: Nobody knows yet.

CALLER: I don’t know if it does or not. But in every case that I’ve been struck by lightning, once we recovered from the initial shock of the lightning strike we were able to reset all the electronics that went out.

RUSH: But it didn’t destroy juror alternate to fly the airplane?

CALLER: Nooooo. No. Not by any means.

RUSH: What did it sound like you got struck by lightning? What did it sound like?

CALLER: It sounded like a gunshot, actually.

RUSH: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a plane struck by lightning.

CALLER: Well, you’re not… You don’t want to be! (laughing) It did. It sounded like a gunshot. And the damage that was caused was all pretty much superficial. There was scoring down the side of the airplane. There was damage to the paint. There were several rivets that were scored with burn marks. But there was nothing substantial done to the airplane.

RUSH: Yeah, but it didn’t take you out of the sky. Well, there are people who are fascinated by this. It’s just interesting to speculate about it until it’s known, until the exact reason is known.


RUSH: All right, at the website that I gave you, WeatherGraphics.com/Tim/AF447, Tim Vasquez has updated the site now to include the possibility that loss of electrical took out the weather radar, which means the pilots aboard the Airbus A330 would have had no way of tacking through the thunderstorm to avoid the bad cells. So that has been updated.

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