Photos by Hui-chen and MJ Klein
UPDATE: May 15, 2007. On this day, just 5 days from the 2nd anniversary of our blog, this story has generated so much traffic that I have installed a World Map counter so everyone can see where the readers are. You may click on the map for a detailed view if you like.
World Visitor Map
Also, please feel free to check our sitemeter statistics here. Hui-chen and I appreciate the positive comments posted to our blog and emailed to us. We were deeply saddened by these events that have touched our lives. We appreciate all our readers who have spread word of this story to others and have thus honored The Heroes of 5371. I look forward to being able to give you the rest of the story very soon. My wife and I convey our deepest sympathies to the families and colleagues of the injured and killed in this tragic accident.
Yesterday, Hui-chen and I were in Taipei, at Shannon’s and then later, the Taiwan Beer Bar. I got no less than 4 phone calls from a Taiwan Air Force officer, asking questions about the photographs I took last Friday of the final moments of 5371 before it crashed.
Today, Sunday, May 13, 2007, several officers and engineers from the Air Force visited our home. They told me that my photos were the only photos available that showed what happened to the aircraft just before it crashed, and that the information I provided them was crucial to their investigation.
I have been asked by the lead investigator to hold off from publishing my photos for awhile. He is concerned that the local Taiwanese press may steal them off my flickr.com site. I just laughed it off, saying that we could sue them and give the money to the families of the deceased and injured. The press here are less than exemplary, let’s say.
So, I have decided to wait for a week before I publish the actual report along with the photos of the doomed jet. In the meantime I want to leave you with this short preview of the upcoming article. It may be necessary to wait a little longer than 1 week, so please accept my apologies.
Often, us foreigners complain that Taiwanese sometimes don’t take things seriously enough. In this case I want to make it clear that these officers and engineers viewed my photographic work with all the weight and scrutiny that I could have ever imagined. At the beginning, when I originally tried to contact the proper authorities through Linda Arrigo, she told me that her contacts basically said that they had enough photographs and didn’t need any more. No one realized that I was approximately 700 to 800 meters from the aircraft (determined today) and shooting with a 300mm lens. My photos show the positions of the aircraft’s control surfaces – essential information when trying to unravel such a complex puzzle. Later in the day, the Air Force came to my home and took a CD of the photos.
Not only did they keep me informed about what they were doing – they actually included me in their investigative work. That would never have happened in the USA! My years of experience in field engineering really paid off today.
The gentleman in the white shirt is Mr. Dong (nickname “Domain”), the lead investigator. The gentleman in the black shirt is a fighter pilot, and trainer stationed at the Hsinchu airbase. His English nickname is “Titan” and he a giant of a man – fully as tall as I am at 190+cm. In the background you can see 2 engineers sending down a measuring tape to measure the height of our building. Domain and Titan are checking out the positions of stationary points of reference seen in my photos. These points of reference were in the foreground with the jet in the background, and are extremely useful for determining distance, altitude and velocity. Titan is holding a print out of all the photos, for reference.
The process began with an interview. I was questioned about what I saw, where I was standing, what I heard, my thoughts and views – all of it. These men were super-professional and genuinely appreciative of my help. Notice that I am holding my GPS in my left hand. Once I explained a bit about my background, they decided to use me as part of the team.
Here I am taking a bearing on one of the stationary points of reference. My GPS has a fluxgate compass and a sighting feature. I am holding the GPS high in order to be as accurate as possible, while still holding the unit itself level. They used my sightings in their data. In fact, they used all the GPS data that I provided them.
One last thing I want to mention, is that I got the definition of what constitutes a legal, and illegal photo in the eyes of the military and Taiwan government, right from an Air Force officer. All of my photos are 100% legal and I am free to publish them. The military is concerned however, that the press would pick up my photos and make up some story about what happened before the official investigation releases its findings. I respect their concern and therefore must abide by their request to wait.
Blogged with Flock