I sat before the Senate subcommittee, purposely blurring my vision to avoid their steely stares. When they were nothing more than rough upside triangles of white on a grey background, I began.
“The flight started nominally. Textbook takeoff from Fairbanks International. About 30 miles into the flight, still ascending, Flight 208 reported a power outage in her number 2 engine and descended to an emergency altitude. She disappeared from radar over the Alaska Range.
“A scant 10 days later, after a group of hikers discovered the wreckage of Flight 208, the FAA determined the gyro had malfunctioned mid-flight and, coping with low visibility, the pilot steered the already crippled aircraft into a loping left turn that proved fatal. The g-forces of the impact, coupled with the resulting fireball, claimed all 183 souls instantly.
“I want to draw attention to that: the forensic team confirmed that each person – 183, just as on the final flight manifest – died instantly.”
I took a sip of water from the thick, expensive glass in front of me.
“Everything on the in-flight data recorder jives up with the crash. The cockpit recording, from takeoff to crash, has been given to the media. You’ve probably heard it.
“What hasn’t been released is what the recorder picked up in the cockpit after the crash. A voice, clear and uninjured, speaking an unknown language. The voice patterns do not match any crew. A linguistics professor recognized it as archaic dialect of the Chukchi people, an ethnic group located across the Bearing Sea but who were once indigenous to the area.
“The voice said, ‘We will clear our skies with fire, our lands with water.’”