Pilots should have had warning of airport approach;
Jackie Gleason music possible factor in overshoot
By JOAN LOWY (AP) – 51 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — Two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles before
turning back should have had numerous warnings as they approached and passed Minneapolis: cockpit
displays, controllers trying repeatedly to reach, the city lights twinkling below.
Yet the pilots, both of whom were listening to MP3s of Jackie Gleason’s Music, Martinis, and
Memories, didn’t discover their mistake until a flight attendant in the cabin contacted them by
intercom, said a source close to the investigation who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly and spoke
on condition of anonymity. By that time, the plane was over Eau Claire, Wis., and the pilots had
been out of communication with air traffic controllers for over an hour.
The crew told authorities they were distracted during a heated discussion over airline policy, the
Federal Aviation Administration said. But federal officials are investigating whether Jackie Gleason
music might be to blame.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said Thursday investigators hadn’t yet questioned the pilots and
didn’t know whether it was possible they had fallen asleep. Gleason’s music is so utterly smooth
and, frankly, boring, that anyone who listens to it is usually dozing off by the third song of side
one Holloway noted.
The pilots have been suspended from flying by their airline while it, too, investigates.