Perhaps he's not a tease...but just too old to post the whole story at that late hour...
You know me well.
For obvious reasons I can't quote the FO (let's call him Bob), nor make any statements on his behalf. This is MY take on things and nothing more
The direction I want to take on this is: What can we learn from another persons experience? In deference to the flight crew, if this thread gets nasty and ugly I will request that it be closed so please behave.
The night of December 20, 2008 was a cold one in Denver. Preflight activities were typical with nothing abnormal noted. There was a fairly strong crosswind out of the West but nothing to raise any alarms. The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) data is published for those who might want to reference it.
The aircraft was cleared to push from Terminal A for a Northbound taxi. Push was uneventful as were the engine starts. Taxi to Rwy 34R was also uneventful. By the way, the captain was flying the leg to IAH, making Bob the monitoring pilot. The winds at the time were out of the Northwest 25 to 30 MPH, with gusts close to 40.
Takeoff roll was typical for a crosswing takeoff with appropriate inputs (rudder and aileron). FOs make a 100 knot verbal call simply to get a crosscheck with the other pilot. Bob looked down at the airspeed indicator and noted it was close to reaching 100 and then brought his eyes up and saw that they were on runway centerline. Within a second of that moment, the aircraft nose was pointing 30 to 40 degrees off centerline to the left in a very abrupt fashion. When Bob instinctively put his right foot on the rudder, he noted that the rudder pedal was already pushed to the floor by the captain.
I suppose the NTSB will likely be focusing on the next series of events to make their conclusions. When did they reject and when should they have rejected?
I recall my thought process in simulators after V1 cuts and the like fighting to get the airplane back where it needed to go. If the airplane was drifting right or left, it is not my instinct or that of most pilots to reject without at least trying to get the airplane back where it belongs. I think that this crew did not want to simply accept early on that a runway exit was inevitable. The left mains left the runway at 22 degrees off centerline at near 115 knots. The reject was initiated at that time.
My question to Bob: What were your initial thoughts when you realized you were off the runway? His first thoughts were anger and frustration that he was likely going to be seeing his chief pilot and have some paperwork to fill out. After the first big impact which really hurt, his thoughts turned to perhaps not surviving this and thoughts about his family. Bob had the luxury of holding on to various things allowing him to brace himself somewhat. The captain was still on the controls and therefore was hurt considerably worse than Bob. The airplane came to a stop and it was totally dark inside the flight deck. A what the hell just happened tone permeated the cockpit. The sounds of evacuation were heard in the back. Bob felt that egress from the cockpit door would not be possible due to the twisted state of the airframe so he opened his side window and threw his escape rope out. He looked out the window and saw that the right side of the airplane was on fire so he abandoned that idea. The deadheading captain entered the flight deck at about that time and assisted both pilots in getting out of the airplane. Bob was the last person off the airplane. He did mention that it took fire and rescue crews a while to get to the airplane as they had a hard time finding the wreckage. Passengers and crew were divided into who was hurt and who was not and the on scene activities were handled well both before and after the rescue crews arrived.
I will continue in a subsequent post.....