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One Minute Joe Sharkey is Chatting With Pilots, The Next, Those Pilots are Crashing the Plane

October 3rd, 2006

Joe Sharkey, “On the Road” columnist for the New York Times business travel section (which we don’t read — we just heard about this article on NY1 this morning) has a piece in the Business section today. Sharkey, in a strange twist of coincidences involving freelancing and traveling, was aboard the smaller plane which crashed over Brazil on October 1.

The article is actually quite moving — and times frightening, and so frankly written that it tugged at even our callused heart strings. Sharkey, along with the others aboard the smaller charter plane that crashed with a Boeing 747 are lucky to be alive. And they are especially lucky that a journalist survived, so he could pen the details of this near-fatal in-air collision.

And it had been a nice ride. Minutes before we were hit, I had wandered up to the cockpit to chat with the pilots, who said the plane was flying beautifully. I saw the readout that showed our altitude: 37,000 feet.

I returned to my seat. Minutes later came the strike (it sheared off part of the plane???s tail, too, we later learned).

Immediately afterward, there wasn???t much conversation.

Nice way to add a little humor to buffer that bomb. So, Sharkey was chatting up the pilots and then the pilots crashed? Hmm. We’re not explicitly saying there’s a connection between these two events … but it does seem like a detail the folks on Lost might choose to leave out. You know how judgemental people can be.

Colliding With Death at 37,000 Feet, and Living [Joe Sharkey, New York Times]

Tagged: Travel · News

Comments (32)

No. 1
Alberto Silva says:

And the pilots killed 155 people. you forgot this little detail.

Posted: Oct 4, 2006 at 6:52 pm

No. 2
Murray says:

I have to second the comment by Alberto Silva.

155 people died as a result of this. Any sign of remorse by Sharkey? None. Perhaps on the advice of attorneys? Maybe. It wouldn’t have killed him to say how sorry it was that 155 Brasilians died. Its a glaring omission and another sign of American arrogance and selfishness.

Check out Matt Lauer’s interview with him on video at

Posted: Oct 4, 2006 at 7:02 pm

No. 3
Gisele Telles says:

When Mr. Sharkey spoke airily regarding the Brazilian air traffic forgot of mentioning the American pilot’s fact to be disobeying the norms and to have flown on Bras??lia to 137 thousand feet, when he/she should make him/it to 136 thousand feet. Who are they sacrifice here, Mr. Sharkey?

Posted: Oct 4, 2006 at 8:32 pm

No. 4
Patrick says:

His talking to the pilots would have played no bearing in the disaster. The cruising altitude would have been accepted and set by the pilots long before Sharkey every entered the cockpit to chat. Presumably, any pilot error would have involved the pilots entering the wrong cruise altitude into the nav system or some sort of system error.

Posted: Oct 4, 2006 at 9:05 pm

No. 5
Caio says:

Ask for Joe Sharkey: in case the accident happened in the USA with Brazilian pilots, will his opinion be the same would be?????

Posted: Oct 4, 2006 at 9:38 pm

No. 6
Luiza Cruz says:

What is amazing is that never, even for a single moment, Mr. Sharkey said a word about the 155 Brazilians killed by the crash. And how quickly he was to blame Brazilian flight safety when American pilots were clearly in the wrong.
Be a man, be a real journalist, Mr. Sharkey. Do not be partial. Do not be afraid!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 12:50 am

No. 7
Ingrid says:

He is a witness to confirm the wrong altitude these pilot put the plane on: 37,000 feet, same as the Boing.
– > They were authorized to be at 36,000 feet !

And the pilot wasn??t qualified to fly a Legacy aircraft (only the co-pilot was) which is illegal…

Yes, Brazilian authorities are right to hold them for further investigation and even charge them for (unintentional) murder.

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 7:51 am

No. 8
Hedylamar says:

Your comments about the accident are very unfortunate at times. You??re probably aware of that. A clear evidence of this is the fact that you keep avoiding brazilian press. Why is it so?
And I would love to reafirm that heroes were the pilots of the Boeing aircraft, they saved your lives. And yes, Santos Dumont was the one that invented the airplane; true fact for both brazilian and american press, if the last can handle it.

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 8:22 am

No. 9
Ricardo says:

Joe Sharkey, voc?? ?? um imbecil, n??o existe outra palavra para defini-lo. Infelizmente um bom emprego em uma grande m??dia escrita internacional, cursos e n??vel superior n??o te levaram ao crescimento mais importante deste mundo, o espiritual.

Rezarei por voc?? e pelos inocentes que estavam a bordo do Boeing 737, v??o 1907. Espero que entendam minhas palavras em portugues.

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 8:33 am

No. 10
angela says:

I was surprised to watch the interviews of Mr Sharkey when he said negative opinion about the Brazilian air traffic. Anyway, I don’t think he qualified to affirm that and and the process to identify the responsible person is not finished yet. WE LIVE IN A COMMUNITY ! 155 people are already dead, many children lost their parents etc… and you are talking about the luck pilots who in your own words are in danger right now… They will be ok, even if they are considered guilty, they are alive!!! Life has no price!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 8:37 am

No. 11
Vin??cius says:

Joe Sharkey:

FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:00 am

No. 12
Bin Ladem says:

God bless Bin Laden!!!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:35 am

No. 13
Jo??o says:

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:49 am

No. 14
F M Lopes says:

Sharkey! Your lack of consideration for the victims of the airliner and your implicit and explicit attempts at shifting the blame makes you a pathetic, disgusting, sorry example of a human being – let alone a journalist!
You may be a world traveler but your ethnocentric attitude blinds you to the fact that there’s a whole world out there filled with intelligent, capable and highly competent people. You’re an arrogant idiot!

A todos os Brasileiros e especialmente as familias e amigos das vitimas – as minhas condolencias. Voces estao nos nossos pensamentos.

F M Lopes

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:52 am

No. 15
josielkons says:

FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the Brazil its not Mexico
yank motherfuck, filho de umaq puta, great hero, you kliller indians and black people, now braziliam in airplane, we go killer pilots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:53 am

No. 16
Junior says:

The address of the blog of Joe Sharkey’s idiot is

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 10:44 am

No. 17
Ethereal says:

This is, to say the least, disgusting. I really doubt if this event had happened in american air space, the NY times and his journalist would be sporting a funny face after the accident and an article with ???almost death??? flight experiences. But again, maybe it???s the american way to see the world outside its borders. A distant and non-english speaking country, and to make it perfect, a south american rainforest, military airbase??? you just forgot to describe them as moustached sweating men in green uniforms speaking portuguese ???Si senior???. But actually you did a good job describing the legacy pilots as highly trained and experienced americans ex-fighter pilots working as a team in a mission to save the best of human kind. The 155 dead in the other plane ? Oh, it???s like a hollywood movie, they were just the less important part of the story. I guess, indeed you are aiming to get your story rights bought by a big studio, so you get loads of bucks for that when they put it on screen, right ? That???s the american way.
And to think I almost shed a tear when I watched you in the news embracing your wife. I thought for a minute you were a good man, but no fear, it???s already gone.

PS.: Be sure that when they have your story filmed, they get the brazilian capital right : Buenos Aires.

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 12:52 pm

No. 18
Bernardo says:

you suck , this americans who were piloting the airplane , they have to be on jail!
we brasilian are not indians, you must have some respect wich us !
the twins towers were a terrorism … but kill 155 brasilians is only a joke for you …
you and your america doesn’t deserv our respect !

does americans don’t undestand numbers ?? 37 feets is different off 36 feets … asshole !

i hope you can still sleep at night …..

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 1:41 pm

No. 19
Yves says:

Liar! People can’t trust a word you say.

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 1:45 pm

No. 20
Marcos says:

Sharkey, vai tomar no meio do seu c??. Sensacionalista FILHO DA PUTA!!!!!

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 3:12 pm

No. 21
josielkons says:

you lie, great lie

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:05 pm

No. 22
miguel says:

You are great asshole, seu veado garanto que tava dando o cu pro piloto

Posted: Oct 5, 2006 at 9:17 pm

No. 23
MashCran says:

What a load – I thought drudge was bad, but this garbagesite is so ghey-sickening-neocon I can hardly believe it exists. Luckily for you, the Net enables you to do this from the safety of your pink Manhattan closet. While you cruiseivate Karl Rove assiduously. How depressing. How can even a pathetic creature like you not realize that the pseudochristian right isn’t your pal? Wait, maybe some of it is… LOL. Now come get me, buttboy! Fssst!

Posted: Oct 7, 2006 at 5:50 pm

No. 24
Ant??nio says:

Plano de v??o do Legacy previa tr??s mudan??as de altitude

Ag??ncia Estado

O plano de v??o do jato Legacy que se chocou com o Boeing 737-800 da Gol mostra que al??m de mudar de altitude tr??s vezes, o avi??o tamb??m devia mudar sua velocidade e de aerovia. Todos esses dados eram de conhecimento dos pilotos americanos do avi??o. Sabiam at?? que iam enfrentar uma turbul??ncia ??s 16h56, quatro minutos antes da colis??o. Por causa disso, o plano indica at?? a localiza????o da maleta de primeiro socorros na cabine de comando do jato – ao lado do banco do piloto Joe Lepore.

O planejamento de um v??o ?? feito pela tripula????o e aprovado pelas autoridades aeron??uticas. No caso do Legacy que se envolveu no maior acidente da hist??ria a??rea do Pa??s, que deixou 154 mortos, o plano previa que o jato decolasse ??s 14h30 do aeroporto de S??o Jos?? dos Campos, rumasse em dire????o de Po??os de Caldas (MG) para apanhar a aerovia UW2 em dire????o a Bras??lia. Nessa etapa, ele estaria a 37 mil p??s de altitude (11.225 metros) e a uma velocidade de 972 km/h.

Ao passar por Bras??lia, o plano previa que o Legacy diminu??sse a velocidade para 820 km/h e a altitude para 36 mil p??s (10.922 metros). Mudaria tamb??m de aerovia, passando para a UZ-6, onde rumaria at?? Manaus (AM). Em Teres, um ponto virtual de localiza????o a??rea, o Legacy devia subir para 38 mil (11.529 metros) e diminuir a velocidade para 808 km/h. ???Essa mudan??a ?? feita para alcan??ar a melhor performance da aeronave???, afirmou um oficial da Aeron??utica.

O plano previa ainda que, caso o Aeroporto Eduardo Gomes, me Manaus, estivesse fechado, o jato pilotado por Lepore pousaria no aeroporto de Boa Vista (RR). O documento foi aprovado por Welder Soares Cabrera, funcion??rios da Embraer, e obteve a aprova????o n??mero 286. O tempo estimado de v??o at?? o destino final era de 3 horas e 34 minutos, onde chegaria ??s 21h09 (hora local).

TRANSPONDER – O transponder do Legacy da ExceAire n??o estaria desligado, mas funcionando no modo stand by (em espera), no aguardo da digita????o de uma freq????ncia de identifica????o no momento do choque com o Boeing da Gol. ?? a avalia????o feita por tr??s pilotos ouvidos pelo Grupo Estado. O transponder ?? o aparelho de comunica????o eletr??nico que emite sinais do avi??o ao centro de comando em terra e outros avi??es. ?? por essa freq????ncia que s??o enviados dados do sistema anticolis??o, chamado de ACAS. Os sinais identificam a aeronave com o n??mero de v??o e a companhia a??rea a que pertence.

???N??o ?? comum perder sinal do transponder. O Legacy n??o estava longe de Bras??lia para perder o sinal???, afirmou um experiente piloto, com mais de 30 anos de trabalho. Mas uma vez sem emiss??o de dados de seguran??a, o Legacy n??o poderia ter sido detectado pelo Boeing.

Para o aeronauta, o transponder do Legacy estava funcionando, mas n??o emitiu sinal do avi??o para o controle de Bras??lia. ???O sinal desapareceu do radar, que ficou sem identifica????o do v??o e da companhia. ?? como tentar sintonizar uma r??dio, antes de chegar ?? emissora desejada fica um chiado. No caso do transponder, antes de chegar na freq????ncia informada pelo comando, a identifica????o do avi??o desapareceu???, explicou o piloto. ???Foi ai que o comando come??ou a chamar o Legacy, por sete vezes, e n??o teria conseguido contato.???

Posted: Oct 10, 2006 at 5:17 pm

No. 25
Gustavo Lessa Neto says:


Dear Sir,
In connection with recent articles published by your esteemed newspaper and duly signed by Mr. Joe Sharkey, a survivor of the collision in mid air of an executive jet with a Boeing 737 operated by GOL TRANSPORTES A??REOS S.A., that claimed 154 lives, I would appreciate it very much if you would authorize the publication of the rebuttal below, to several of the statements and opinions expressed by Mr. Sharkey in your midia.
Thank you for your attention

Gustavo Lessa Neto
Rua Santa Catarina, n?? 50 ??? 24?? andar ??? sala 2404
CEP 86010-470
Londrina ??? Paran?? ??? Brasil
Phone (55-43) 3322-7679
ID 1.418.726-0 SSP/PR

Dear Mr. Joe Sharkey

I have read and heard what you have stated since you were involved in the tragic air accident in the Brazilian Amazon Region and I must admit that I do not like what I read and hear.

A fair summary of the facts indicates that you were aboard the executive jet that collided with a Boeing 737 that crashed in the jungle, taking the lives of 154 productive, innocent and highly qualified Brazilians, a loss to the entire Country.

The executive jet, produced in Brazil, landed safely at the nearest Brazilian Air Force Base, where, as far as is known, you and the other survivors were treated with respect, humanity and were provided with all assistance you required.

Naturally you and your travel companions were questioned by the local authorities, maybe even more than once, but this is perfectly understandable.

There is no indications whatsoever that you were in any way offended, pressured or treated in a disrespectful manner.

After being questioned you returned to your Country where you knew you would be able to play the role of the witness that survived, and tell your fellow countrymen all about your adventure in the jungle.

You provided a report that is hasty, superficial and without technical support. It is further cynical and addressed to the lesser knowing readers, and suggests that the pilots of the executive jet are in the soiled hands of incapable police officers; suggest further that the pilots are locked up as political prisoners, in a fetid cell at the local police station, awaiting to be rescued from a supposed savage environment.

I imagine that you are making money off the sad event; you might be charging for interviews, or sell your story, and even publish a book.
Your fifteen minutes of spotlight and fame involves selling a story that goes down well with the American public; it suggests torture, bravery like an Indiana Jones, and suspense; faster than expected though you have accused the Brazilian Air Control Radars and made your pilots look like heroes or even victims.

As a country we have our problems like any other; our income distribution is lousy, our police is not always efficient, we have corruption and like your Country our Presidents leave a lot to be desired, but we not mistreat foreigners.

It would probably be useful and dignified to spread some information about the people that lost their lives; on board the aircraft that crashed there were Brazilian scientist and volunteers involved in the preservation of the Amazon region, medical students and university professors, a volunteer worker with Indian communities married to a Brazilian lady, even an American citizen that was used to flying over the jungle.

You could have told your public that the airline is giving all families involved world class support and assistance; you could have described the heroic, yes heroic, work of the Brazilian ???marines??? charged with the hard and rough task of rescuing 154 bodies, work still underway as I write you these lines.

Above all Joe, you could have kept your judgment to yourself not assessing guilt without facts.

The truth will emerge from facts as they are made public not by hasty judgment but by the careful analysis of the recording equipment on board the aircrafts; by checking the recordings made at the different stations along the route, by verifying flight plans and radio communications, or the absence thereof.

If guilt is established the guilty must be punished whoever and wherever they are and I pray that the guilt does not fall on the pilots, since nobody deserves to live with this sort of burden.

Last but not least Joe, you wasted a unique opportunity to do something useful to mankind and have more than your fifteen minutes of fame in your life.


Gustavo Lessa Neto

Posted: Oct 11, 2006 at 12:00 pm

No. 26
Annibal says:


Dear Mr Sharkey,

I am Brazilian. I read you article “Colliding With Death at 37,000 Feet, and Living” and watched the video of 3′54” posted at NYT webpage and I read the “Ag??ncia Estado” quoting you as saying:

“N??s precisamos ter cuidado com as evid??ncias coletadas pelas autoridades brasileiras sobre o acidente.” Ele disse ainda acreditar que os pilotos do jato, que ficaram com os passaportes retidos no Brasil, correm “algum tipo de perigo”. Mas n??o fez nenhum coment??rio adicional sobre a quest??o.??

Which can be translated back like this:

“We need to be careful with the evidences collected by Brazilian authorities about the accident” and that the pilots back in Brazil are “under risk” (although you did not specify which kind of risk, according to Ag??ncia Estado).

I will assume you told it as I am afraid you eventually will also lie about that and deny you have told it if it is not recorded, but I trust Agencia Estado much more than NYT and you.

If you are so sceptic about the Brazilian authorities and you are afraid about the fate of your fellow pilots I sugest you to fly to Brazil and give your full, complete and true declaration to the Brazilian authorities, of everything you saw, listened and participated on board. But the real true and not whatever you have declared. Because I KNOW THAT YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. I hope that the weigh of 154 souls into your conscience will make you sometime to tell the truth rather than protect your “heroes”.

If you …”saw the body language of the two pilots. They were like infantrymen working together in a jam, just as they had been trained to do.”… why don’t you relate to us also their body language while they were explaining to you 5 the smart they were switching off the transponder and the good they and the aircraft were while they did all the irregular and illegal maneuvers?

I can understand your feelings of gratitude to Joe and Jan after they have saved your life on such conditions. I would join you
on calling them heroes if they had did that after crashing against “a wayward weather balloon, or a hot-dogging military fighter jet whose pilot had bailed, or an airliner somewhere nearby that had blown up, and rained debris on you” but not after they acted so arrogantly and irresponsibly on the Brazilian air space as they surely did.

The fucking real true is that what they deserved after doing what they did and you as a liar and manipulator is that the Legacy had crashed while the Boeing had survived and landed at Cachimbo. But real live is unfair, so unfair most of the time.

On occasions like this is when good men and bastards take the masks out.

I hope that whenever something similar occurs to someone from your family you will have a witness of the fact as tendentious as you, so you will be able to feel what all the families of those 154 victims are feeling about you!


Posted: Oct 13, 2006 at 9:37 pm

No. 27
Clovis Cba Brasil says:

Joe Sharkey,

A verdade liberta. Mas se vc insiste em continuar preso, o problema ?? seu. Vc tem que resolver isso com Deus.

Quanto aos mortos nada podemos fazer. Quanto ??s fam??lias, aos filhos que perderam pais, aos pais que perderam filhos somente o consolo de Deus.

Deus te livrou da morte, mas para falar somente a verdade. Lembres-se disso.

Posted: Oct 14, 2006 at 11:25 am

No. 28
JC Anacleto says:

Why are the black boxes being denied to the Federal investigation, by the aeronautical authorities?
They will prove, or not, that the Legacy pilots switched anything in the cockpit. So, why after opening the black boxes, they became so silent with the stupid accusations against the Legacy pilots?
The aeronautical investigations have no aim of finding guiltys, they say, refering ICAO Annex 13 document. Maybe, and nothing against that. But we need to know the TRUTH! Only the TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH. The pilots, the aircraft manufacturers or the Air Traffic Control, one of these envolved parts have the total or partial culpability of the accident.
Nothing can be hidden. Truth must come out, whatever it costs.

Posted: Oct 26, 2006 at 6:02 am

No. 29
JCA says:

Para alguns comentadores do blog;

Li os vossos (e outros) coment??rios sobre este tr??gico acidente.

Esperei um tempo, como ?? de bom senso fazer, antes de emitir qualquer opini??o.

Entretanto as caixas pretas do Legacy foram e voltaram do Canad??, j?? descodificadas.
S?? as caixas pretas podem confirmar o que se passou na cabina de pilotagem. Se os pilotos mexeram ou alteraram algum equipamento, como o Transponder, se fizeram alguma manobra estranha, etc, etc.
As caixas pretas voltaram e, de repente, sil??ncio sobre o assunto.
Est?? l?? a prova da culpabilidade, ou inoc??ncia, dos pilotos.
Mas, um estranho SIL??NCIO !!!

E Porqu???
E porque ?? que o acesso a tais caixas pretas est?? sendo recusado ?? investiga????o externa e criminal da Pol??cia Federal?

Come??a a fazer algum sentido, n??o ???

Parece-me que quem proferiu tanta bobagem e tanta imbecilidade sobre o assunto, principalmente aquela que os pilotos do Legacy deveriam estar no N??vel do Plano de V??o (que absurdo e tanta ignor??ncia de pilotagem …), v??o ter que se preparar para apresentar um pedido de desculpas aos pilotos do Legacy.
?? conveniente n??o falar sobre um assunto, quando n??o se domina bem o mesmo, e n??o andar a repetir, como um papagaio, as bobagens que se ouvem nos media, por a??.
Penso que, contudo, a v/ inten????o ?? a melhor poss??vel, e que s?? querem o apuramento da verdade.
Pois ent??o, que a Verdade sobre as verdadeiras causas do acidente venham c?? para fora.

Tudo de bom para vcs,



Posted: Oct 26, 2006 at 8:49 am

No. 30
William says:

Joe Sharkey is a liar.
He said not the truth to Brazilian justice and for this if he return to Brazil he will be imprisoned.

Posted: Feb 19, 2007 at 9:24 pm

No. 31
OBL says:

Everyone knows the US pilots messed up in Brazil….look at 9/11.
They both flew into the same building on the same day!

Posted: Feb 22, 2007 at 1:34 pm

No. 32
Carol says:

Acho um absurso esses Norte Americanos, que se acham os donos do mundo e pensam que podem dar ordem aqui no Brasil. Achar que pelo fato do ingl??s ser uma lingua universal somos obrigados a saber falar. Nossa lingua nativa ?? o PORTUGU??S. Se est??o em nosso pa??s teriam sim que saber falar a l??ngua portuguesa para utilizar avi??es em nosso espa??o a??reo.
Voc??s Norte Americanos pensam que s??o os dono do Mundo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Querem internacionalizar nossa Amaz??nia, alegando que ela ?? o pulm??o do Mundo, logo s??o os que mais produzem gases poluente, e esquecem tamb??m que quem ?? a maior respons??vel pela renova????o do ar s??o as algas e essas se encontram no Oceano.
Fazem uma Guerra em um pa??s com a disculpa de contru????o de bombas at??micas, eu quero saber onde est??o essas bombas que at?? hoje n??o apareceram. Gastam milh??es e milh??es em armas, enquanto a maior parte do mundo vive em condi????es miser??veis.
estou cansada de ver o massacre desses povos e do meu povo que ainda hoje sofre muita influ??ncia deste pa??s que s?? pensa em dominar o Mundo.

Posted: Feb 23, 2007 at 1:50 pm

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