Comair 5191 FO Only Survivor Of Takeoff Accident
For any of us who've achieved the
dream of flying, we know what a motivation that dream can be.
Watching people with disabilities achieve the dream is especially
inspiring when you know what it takes to get there.
James Polehinke is such a case. James has flown before, but
suffered brain damage, broken bones, a collapsed lung, and the loss
of his left leg in a 2006 crash. He's had multiple surgeries,
medical bills which have already topped $4 million, and still faces
a long rehab process. His attorney says his dream to return to the
cockpit is what keeps him going.
But this pilot faces challenges beyond getting an FAA medical.
Polehinke was the copilot of Comair Flight 5191.
As ANN reported, on the
morning of August 27, 2006, he and the captain of a Bombardier
regional jet were assigned runway 22 for takeoff from Lexington
Blue Grass Airport in Kentucky. That runway is 7,000 feet long and
150 feet wide. Instead, they lined up and attempted departure on
runway 26, the general aviation strip, which is half the length,
and half the width of 22. Polehinke was flying pilot at the time of
It its Probable Cause report on the
accident, the National Transportation Safety Board
said the plane's cockpit voice recorder revealed Polehinke and
Captain Jeffrey Clay noticed they were on an unlit runway as the
plane reached 100 knots, but there was no evidence of an attempt to
abort the takeoff. The NTSB also said the pilots violated "sterile
cockpit" rules banning non-essential chatter during takeoff.
The CRJ100 ran out of pavement
before reaching takeoff speed, and crashed just past the runway's
end. Of the 47 passengers and three crewmembers onboard, Polehinke
was the only survivor.
Polehinke is being sued by family members of crash victims. He
has, in turn, reportedly filed his own lawsuits against the
airport, the FAA, and the makers of airport charts.
He has retained an attorney, Larry Moore, who told The
Associated Press Wednesday it's uncertain what steps would need
needed to return Polehinke's pilot certificate to good
"Jim has a love for flying. He has a love for life, a very
strong determination to achieve every level of recovery he could
possibly make," Moore said. "That's what he's wanted to do with his
life and still wants to do with his life."
Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx said Polehinke is still officially
an employee the airline, listed as being on medical leave.