Dorothy Hunt. [Source: Spartacus Educational]
Dorothy Hunt, the wife of accused Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt (see 2:30 a.m.June 17, 1972), dies in a plane crash that claims the lives of 44 others when it crashes just after takeoff from Chicago’s Midway Airport. Some believe that the plane crash may have been planned, though there is no hard evidence to support this contention.
Blackmailing the White House? – Hunt and his fellow “Plumbers” (see Late June-July 1971) have been regularly receiving “hush money” payments from the Nixon presidential campaign to stay quiet about their activities (see March 20, 1971). With the prospect of going to prison, Hunt threatened to reveal juicy details of who exactly paid him to organizee burglary. His wife helped negotiate a payoff deal with Nixon aide Charles Colson. Hunt’s fellow Plumber, James McCord, will later claim that Dorothy Hunt said that her husband has information that would “blow the White House out of the water.” She was, Colson later admits, “upset at the interruption of payments from Nixon’s associates to Watergate defendants.” Former Attorney General John Mitchell, the head of Nixon’s re-election organization, arranged to have Nixon aide Frederick LaRue pay the Hunts $250,000 to keep their mouths shut. The day of the crash, Dorothy Hunt had arranged to meet with CBS journalist Michelle Clark, perhaps to discuss the Watergate investigation. Clark, Dorothy Hunt, and Illinois congressman George Collins are aboard the plane, United Airlines Flight 533, when it crashes into a Chicago neighborhood; all three die. Hunt is reported to be carrying $10,000 in cash as a partial payoff for the burglars (see February 28, 1973), but some sources will later claim that she was carrying far more. [Spartacus Schoolnet, 8/2007] Shortly after the crash, White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman tell Nixon that Mrs. Hunt had distributed $250,000 in cash to her husband and the other Watergate burglars. The cash was delivered to Mrs. Hunt by White House courier Tony Ulasewicz, whose standard procedure was to take cash from the White House to Washington’s National Airport and leave the money in a rented locker. [Reeves, 2001, pp. 551] In October 1974, Watergate burglar Bernard Barker will confirm that Dorothy Hunt was the burglars’ connection to the White House. Barker will recall that, months after the burglary, he met her in Miami, where she told him, “From now on, I will be your contact.” [Harper’s, 10/1974]
FBI ‘Swarms’ Crash Site – One reporter, Lalo J. Gastriani, later reports that just after the crash, the downed plane is swarmed by “a battalion of plainclothes operatives in unmarked cars parked on side streets.” The neighbors who report this to Gastriani say that some of the “operatives” look like “FBI types,” and one neighbor recognizes a “rescue worker” as a CIA agent. Gastriani’s account sounds like the worst conspiracy theory and is anything but conclusive, but future FBI director William Ruckelshaus will later admit that his agency had over 50 agents at the crash site. Interestingly, one of Colson’s aides directly involved in overseeing Hunt’s “Plumbers,” Egil Krogh, will be named as undersecretary of transportation one day after the crash; the position gives Krogh direct control over the two agencies responsible for investigating the crash. Another Nixon aide, Dwight Chapin, soon becomes a top executive at United Airlines. [Spartacus Schoolnet, 8/2007]
THEORY OF CRASH OF UNITED FLIGHT 533 DECEMBER 8, 1972
HUNT could have implicated NIXON in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But did HUNT have any evidence? Had HUNT entrusted it to his wife while he was in prison? NIXON may have believed DOROTHY HUNT possessed evidence that linked him to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
As stated, DOROTHY HUNT was killed in the airplane crash of United Airlines Flight 533 on December 8, 1972, at Chicago’s Midway Airport. UAL 533 was on its way from Washington, D.C., to Omaha, Nebraska, with an intermediate stop at Midway Airport. There were 55 people aboard, including five children and two infants. After Charles Colson became a born-again Christian, he stated: “I don’t say this to many people because they think I am nuts. I think they killed DOROTHY HUNT. I really do…” HOWARD HUNT: “When I see these repetitive allusions to my wife’s death as having somehow been caused by the CIA, I think that is really enough…if my wife had been the only one killed that would have been one thing…but 40 people…”
A detailed analysis of the Aircraft Accident Report prepared by the National Transportation Safety Board on the crash indicated that the Boeing 737 crashed because of instrument sabotage that engendered pilot error. In its report, however, the NTSB attributed the cause of the crash only to pilot error. The report was unofficial. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman John Reed, “was not present and did not participate in the adoption of this report.” The report went unsigned.
The National Transportation Safety Board Report blamed “the Captain’s failure to exercise positive flight management during the execution of a non-precision approach, which culminated in a critical deterioration of airspeed in the stall regime…”
THE FINAL DESCENT
At 2:26 p.m. the Captain ordered the crew of United Airlines Flight 533 to do a final descent check. At 2:27 p.m., United Air Lines Flight 533 was issued a missed-approach clearance by Midway Airport control tower: “United Flight 533, execute a missed approach…” Just as the sound of word “execute” began, the sound of the stickshaker, which was a device that sent vibrations through the cockpit several seconds before an aircraft was about to go into a stall, was heard on the tapes recovered from the cockpit voice recorder. Captain Whitehouse, the pilot of United Air Lines 533, age 44, had been employed by United Airlines for almost 20 years. He had accumulated a total of 18,000 hours flying time, of which 2,435 were in a Boeing 737.
Every pilot was taught that when a stall occurs, he should point the aircraft’s nose slightly downward by extending his flaps, then immediately accelerate the engines to increase thrust. HEMMING told this researcher: “When you get a stall you drop the nose. The last thing you do is add power because that will tend to raise your nose. Put you nose down first then add power, which lessens your rate of descent. Change the angle of attack of your wings which get more airflow going across the wings creating more lift. Then add power to kill the rate of descent. Your rate of descent has slackened off, but your nose is still pointing down.” Most survivors reported that, just before the crash, contrary to being nose-down, the aircraft went into a very high angle of attack. HEMMING told this researcher: “Whitehouse realized he was going to crash and tried to drag his tail to cut down his speed.” Some survivors believed that there was a rapid application of power before impact. An analysis of the cockpit voice recorder tapes found by the General Electric Research Corporation did not conclusively show this power increase.
The cockpit voice recorder revealed that when the stickshaker went off at what was thought to be 1000 feet because of altimeter readings, Captain Whitehouse ordered the Second Officer to release the flaps to point the airplane’s nose downward and get out of the stall. The Second Officer acknowledged the Captain’s last command by saying: “Flaps 15.” The Second Officer then said “I’m sorry.” The National Transportation Safety Board stated that when faced with a stall, the Captain had decided to reconfigure the aircraft by extending the flight flaps because, within two seconds of the onset of the stickshaker, he asked for “more flaps.” The National Transportation Safety Board stated that following this order, there was a sound indicative of flap lever movement. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that it was Captain Whitehouse’s error – failing to realize the flaps were already extended to 30 degrees and ordering the additional 15-degree extension while making a non-precision landing – that caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board: “The 15 degrees was added to the 30 degrees of extension that was accidentally there, so the aircraft continued to stall.”
Eight seconds after the Second Officer said: “I’m sorry,” United Air Lines Flight 533 crashed into several houses located near Midway Airport. Forty passengers and three crew members were killed. Two persons on the ground received fatal injuries. The aircraft itself was largely destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire. Ground damage “precluded any determination of the pre-impact integrity of the control system.” If this was so, how did the National Transportation Safety Board arrive at it’s figure of the 30 degrees of extension that was “accidentally” there.
HEMMING told this researcher: “For the pilot to say ‘flaps’ then ’15 degrees’ – they ain’t supposed to be at 15 degrees that quickly. It’s deadly for those flaps to come up in a hurry when you are executing a missed approach. You’ll sink. You got a stickshaker and ask for more flaps – that’s the last thing you do. You’re gonna start milking them flaps up. You’re at that altitude and you have a stall, you’ve got to execute a missed approach. Nose down, full power. He’s telling you what it says on the instrument. You run that fucker to 15 degrees below 500 feet you’re going to die. He said he was sorry.”
There was confusion in the cockpit during crash. The cause of this confusion would have become apparent had the flight recorder functioned properly.
THE DISABLED FLIGHT RECORDER
Eighty-two minutes after takeoff (approximately 14 minutes before the accident), the Fairchild Flight Data Recorder stopped functioning: “Flight recorder examination showed that a mitre gear (part of the drive gear assembly) had slipped on its shaft, causing the recorder to stop functioning.” The cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered from the wreckage, revealed that when the flight recorder went off, a light went on in the cockpit and Captain Whitehouse asked: “Recorder go off?” The second officer: “Yeah.” Captain Whitehouse: “See what’s wrong, will ya…sounds to me like a circuit breaker…yeah, I just meant, I thought you’d better check everything…” The cockpit voice recorder revealed the Second Officer activated the circuit breaker that fused the power going to the flight recorder and reported: “It tests…I think its okay. I think its working…it says ‘Off’ but the signal, the encode light comes on and it shows, indicating taping. Christ, I can’t even find the circuit breaker for this (deleted) flight recorder…I don’t know, I get a reaction when I pull the AC, no reaction when you pull the DC though, you want me to call maintenance?” Captain Whitehead ordered the Second Officer to immediately call it in. Double click here to see a photograph of the flight recorder. [FlightRecorder.JPEG] The recorder was installed on the day of the accident, and had last been overhauled on November 11, 1972, only two months before it malfunctioned. The Flight Recorder Group of the National Transportation Safety Board found: “No evidence of recorder malfunction in any of the parameters as determined by examining previous flights contained on this foil medium.”
The mitre gear slipped because a saboteur had loosened its set screw. (The Kollsman Instrument Report asked: “if the questionable calibration arm set screws were loose…”) HEMMING told this researcher: “That was very unusual. The thing is wired into the aircraft’s electrical system and has its own backup battery. A power failure doesn’t shut it down. I doubt if it was coincidental. How many wrecks do you have in the history of the NTSB where you could recover the flight recorder but it didn’t work?”
THE TESTIMONY OF JAMES W. ANGUS BEFORE THE NTSB
Q. Will you state your full name.
A. James W. Angus.
Q. And what is your address?
A. 57 Westervelt Avenue, Baldwin, New York.
Q. What is your occupation?
A. I am staff engineer with Kollsman Instruments Company.
Q. Will you tell us how long you have been employed by Kollsman Instruments?
A. I have been employed with Kollsman since 1942 with the exception of a short period of a year and a half.
Q. Would you briefly describe your background and training and experience with Kollsman leading to your current position?
A. I have a bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. At Kollsman I have held assorted positions, starting as a tool inspector, becoming an experimental machinist and experimental technician, a designer, and finally an engineer.
Q. Would you describe your duties and responsibilities in your present position?
A. My primary duties are to develop pressure sensitive equipment. I also assist in giving technical assistance in areas where it is requested under special occasion.
SENIOR HEARING OFFICER HENDRICKS
Exhibit 9-G is identified as a report of an examination of altimeters and air data computers recovered from the Boeing 737, United Airlines Flight 553. Exhibit 9-C-1 is photographs altimeters and air data computers recovered from flight 553. Exhibit 9E, excerpts from Boeing 737 instruction manual regarding the pilot static system.
Q. Mr. Angus, I would like for you to start by describing the altimetry system that is install in Boeing 737, and you may use Exhibit 9E for referral. I would like you to point out those components furnished by Kollsman.
A. Our involvement with the 757 air data computer and the servo-automatic computers for this particular aircraft. The central air data computer is a device which accepts inputs of static pressure, total pressure, temperature and electrical power. We sense the pressure functions and by means of servo systems, compute associated outputs that are used in various positions around the airplane. The sensors, sender portion of the air data computer ,consist essentially of mechanisms somewhat similar to what is contained in altimeters and airspeed indicators. That is, capsules which are responsive to the particular air pressures being supplied. And this particular information is converted into angular motion which ultimately becomes part of a synchotel system and combined with a servo, it positions all of the necessary output devices in accordance with program established by the specification for the air data computer, the output devices are in the forms of syncros, potentiometers, decoders, and reliability signals.
Included with the air data computer is a monitor system for each loop. This monitor determines that the servo system is properly following up each of the sensed values. If, as in the case of the altimeter, the servo system were to get out of track by as much as 100 feet, it would automatically disconnect the system. The way it does this, it cuts off the reliability signals that are sent to each of the using devices. So that any device in the airplane receives not only data from the air data computer, but it receives a validity signal which indicates whether or not the information should be used. The functions that are sent out are sent to indicators on the panel, auto-pilot, the flight recorder, the cabin pressurization system, and the transponder for reporting altitude. The altimeters are what are sometimes referred to as servo pneumatic altimeters. These altimeters have two modes of operation which are selectable by the pilot. In the standby mode of operation, the instrument will operate as a normal pressure sensitive device in accordance with the requirements of FAA/T on C10 Beacon. If it is elected, the indicator my also operate as a servo-repeater from the altitude data transmitted by the central air data computer. In order to operate in this mode, the pilot must actuate a switch knob on the face of the altimeter, which puts it in corrected mode of operation. In this mode of operation, the overall accuracy is improved from approximately ½ a percent system to about 2/10 of a percent accuracy.
Q. The corrected mode would be the normal side of the operation?
A. I believe the way the airline uses the term, the corrected mode is the normal side of operation.
Q. And I am sorry if I missed it, but there are two such systems in the aircraft?
A. Yes, there are two completely different independent systems. There is a central air data computer for the captain’s side with his own indicator, and there s a central air data computer for the first officers side that he has his own independent altimeter. As I understand it there are independent static systems supplying each of these units.
Q. Where does Kollsman interface with Boeing in this system?
A. In each case there is a Boeing specification which determines what the inputs are that you receive and what specification level these inputs would be provided to. In the case of pressure, they give us certain — we have to provide certain cords on the devices that will tie up the lines in the aircraft, electrical connectors — it is pretty much standardized, what pins are used for each function.
Q. I believed you mentioned the monitor tripout. Can you describe the monitor tripout as it effects the altimeter. Does this go into the standby mode when the CADAC trips out?
A. The air data computer will supply precise altitude information to the altimeter. If, for some reason, the altitude module in the air data computer determines that the information is unreliable, it will automatically cut off the reliability signal going to the altimeter.
Q. Is there any other protection in the event of a legitimate signal which is erroneous coming from the central air data computer?
A. The altimeter also contains its servo-monitor. There are two basic modes of servo detection in the altimeter. First would be if the servo system in the altimeter does not track that output of the air data computer. If there is a 50 foot disagreement between the altimeter and the air data computer, the altimeter will automatically revert to standby operation. That will be operating as a straight TSO altimeter. At the time this occurs, there is a flag on the dial which indicates it goes from the corrected mode to the standby mode.
Q. You said this occurs with a 50 foot —
A. Fifty foot separation, that is correct.
Now, in addition to this, we have what is known as a limiting device. People are always concerned and rightly so, for some reason that the servo might run away. If, for example, servo in the air data computer were to run away, we would provide a limited device in the altimeter and at certain pre-selected levels after the altimeter has responded to the corrected mode. It will then be limited in total correction capabilities at the point the monitor will cut the altimeter off, even though the air data computer might want to drive further.
Q. What kind of error would this generate maximum?
A. The error is a variable error with altitude, so that you can take care of increased tolerances at high altitude. At sea level this error would amount to approximately 350 feet.
Q. At what phase of the investigation into the accident of United 533 did your participation start?
A. We started when the instruments had been recovered and they were returned to United at San Francisco. We joined the committee at the United overhaul base and participated with them.
Q. You participated in the examination of both altimeters and the central air data computer, is that correct?
A. That is right, two data computers and two altimeters.
Q. And you prepared Exhibit 9-C to describe the extent of your participation and findings, is that correct.
A. That is correct.
Q. I would like you to refer to refer to Exhibit 9-C-1, answering the following, if you would please. Could you use the photographs and describe the general condition of the Captain’s altimeter when it was first received by you?
A. I might mention before we go ahead that is all of these findings, the committee was present, and in general, I don’t know of an area that doesn’t exist, the committee in general agreed with the findings. These are not single person findings.
Q. Yes, sir.
A. The altimeter suffered primarily what appeared to be fire damage. There was some small indication of impact damage, but the primary source of the difficulty here was that the exterior of the case of the altimeter, which has an enamel paint which is baked on at the time of manufacture, this paint was actually burned off in many areas. With this burning off of the paint, all of the pressure seals in the instrument were no longer active.
The covered glass was cracked and it appeared to be intact, which gave us the impression that this was a thermostress problem, rather than breakage due to impact shock. The rear connector on the instrument was contaminated with a fire material which more than likely was the mating connector on the electrical harness supplied in the airplane. This material had to actually be dug out. It was quite solid. Then the electrical connector was cleaned off. We observed the instrument. We shook it lightly; it didn’t have any particular noisiness inside which might indicate broken parts rolling around. We felt the instrument was capable of further testing.
Q. May I refer you to photograph 1-1 in your exhibit, please.
A. Yes, I am looking at that.
Q. The indicated dial is set 30.035 thereabout. Have you any reason to believe this setting had been changed since impact?
A. Yes. It is my understanding after the instruments had been recovered at the accident site, and as I understand it, notes were taken and photographs were taken of the instrument as mounted on the panel, that subsequently the barrel knob was rotated to see if the pointers were still operable and the particular setting that you see there is the setting that happened to be left on the instrument at the time that it was received in the United Shop.
Q. Could you briefly describe for me the functional test unit was subjected to?
A. This altimeter was placed in a ball jar. The reason for that was that we could not pipe pressure into the altimeter and maintain a reading due to the leakage from the various seals.
Without making any further adjustments to the altimeter, we connected this bell jar, which is a sealed chamber that you can look through and observe the altimeter inside of it, connected this chamber to a barometer and programmed pressure into the chamber, and each specific instance we brought the altimeter to an indicated value in 200 foot stops, going from 0 to 2000 feet.
At each time that we reached stabilization, we measured the pressure within the chamber by means of the barometer that was attached to it. We then computed, based upon the indicated values, pressure values, and the setting, we computed that the indicator had, in its present state, had an average error of approximately 150 feet in the minus direction.
Q. In which?
A. In the minus direction. We then took the same altimeter and just rotated the barrel knob to the 29-92 position, which is the standard position for performing tests on an instrument of this type, and then programmed corrected pressures into the instrument. And putting corrected pressures into the instrument, we then read the instrument error. Now, the instrument error in this case averages out to approximately minus 120 foot value. The reason for the disagreement in this particular case between the first test and the second test — excuse me. Am I getting ahead? Do you want the reason now?
Q. Yes, go right ahead.
A. The reason we felt the disagreement existed was because due to the high temperature exposure of the unit, the operation of the fundamental mechanism was not as smooth as it would be in normal conditions. And operating somewhat erratically, you would not be perfectly sure exactly where the first level was when we were setting the pointer on the instrument. The second case, you program in a very specific pressure, vibrate the instrument, and then take a reading when it settled out. So using a control standard that is much more precise in the second case, the results tend to be more meaningful.
Q. And the error was still in the same direction?
A. Same direction, but much more repeatable all the way up. Used the same 2000 foot altitude test span and 200 foot increment.
Q. Okay, do you have any explanation as to how the low effect offset may have occurred?
A. Yes. The subsequent examination of the instrument after taking the case off revealed that the instrument internally, where the mechanism is located, had reached temperatures approaching 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
We have since taken an equivalent instrument of the servo pneumatic variety and subject that instrument to a basic calibration. The instrument was seasoned overnight in the normal operation that you season these instruments to, which is to expose it to plus 70 degrees. The next morning it was rechecked again and the instrument was a stable instrument. We had to ascertain this fact first.
Then we placed the instrument in an oven. Now I am saying in an oven because you are essentially placing it in air which is heated to a specific temperature level, but it is no a high circulation factor. It is something — there is a gentle fan in there that just keeps the air moving at a slow pace. This particular instrument was placed there, kept there for one hour at 360 degrees — excuse me, let me go back.
In the test condition, we did not expose it to 360 degrees because that happens to be coincident with the melting temperatures of the solders used in the instrument, so for the purpose of the second instrument, to keep the data valid, we operated this at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. No, under these conditions, after aligning the instrument to return to room temperature, we the retested it and we have an average minimum error of 85 to 90 feet. Now that does not appear in the report because we just finished the test Monday. I received the data by phone on Tuesday. We will give you a supplement on that.
Q. Do the results of the pressure testing this particular altimeter in this manner, reflect operation in the servo mode as well as the stand-by?
A. No. When we were finished testing the instrument as noted previously, using control pressure inputs, that was as far as we went on the testing in San Francisco. At that point we concentrated our testing on some of the central air data computer testing. We subsequently resumed testing on this back at Elmhurst in our plant with the team present.
After verifying our initial data, we took the instrument out of the case, we found that all of the electrical components had been exposed to very high temperatures, capacitors had exploded, solder had melted. But the basic pressure mechanism was intact. So we could not operate the instrument in servo mode. We tried in California but we just blew fuses. At that point we just stopped, we didn’t want to damage it.
Q. Can you describe the condition of the first officer’s altimeter one as described by you?
A. The first officers altimeter was in very poor condition as received. This instrument was subjected to extensive fire and impact damage. The fire damage present was at a level that actually melted the aluminum away, which means it was in the temperature band of 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. The base of the instrument was split open, and a goodly portion of it was missing. The rear mechanism in the instrument, which is the pressure sensing section, was also missing. The front end, the cover glass, and flange assembly, was missing. The display elements were still on the face of the instrument. Essentially all that we could say was present was a mechanism body with associated burned-out electrical components and the display portion of the instrument.
Q. Would you refer, please, to photograph 2-1 in Exhibit 9-C-1. Is this a photograph of the first officers altimeter?
A. Yes, that is a photograph taken at United as it was received.
Q. Can you explain the significance of the dial reading or apparent pointer positions and also the reading on the baro set on the altimeter as found?
A. The pointer positions are what are referred to in the trade as uncoordinated. The relative position of the pointers cannot exist based upon the normal reading that is present in the instrument. The baro set was approximately 30,685.
Q. Was there any indication on the dial of the instrument such as impact markings?
Q. Anything to give you a clue as to what the altimeter may have been reading on impact.
A. No. We have very carefully examined the dial components under a binocular type microscope using lights and we could not find any signs that could be attributed to an impact mark.
Q. Would you briefly describe the significance of the photos that you have labeled 2-6, 2-7, and 2-8 in establishing the uncoordinated positions of the pointers?
A. Yes. While we were at United, United made available to the team a recently serviced altimeter in their possession of the same type. We very carefully measured reference points on each pointer of the first officers unit and then positioned the corresponding point on the sample altimeter to that value, and then photographed, the purpose being when you look at the photograph of the good instrument and the photograph of this instrument which had been damaged in the accident, it become readily apparent the pointers are discoordinated.
Q. The primary central air data computer, can you describe the coefficient of that component when you received it?
A. The air data computer received what we would consider a moderate amount of impact damage. By that I mean the cases were dented in several areas on each unit. The front face of the computer was also damaged rather significantly, and there was fire damage around various areas. Let me just check which ones — the captain’s, first the captains computer unit was not severely damaged, but the first officers unit was very badly burned to the point where even the knobs could not be rotated.
Q. Were the units, the internal portions, in operable condition?
A. Yes, they were operable.
Q. Could you describe for us, please, the tests to which these units were subjected?
A. Testing accomplished on the air data computers consisted, first, of isolating all of the output devices to obtain position data at the point of power cutoff to the computer. This was followed by a check of the altitude sensor by disconnecting it electrically from the computer, and running it strictly on a pressure function to determine the operability of the sensor, and again, there are means in there to determine the point at which power was cut off.
At this point we got both computers – we had the sensors and everything reconnected. We programmed standard pressures into the computer and measured the output of the — find the sink rows. This was to determine if the signals going to the altimeter were within specification requirements.
In the case of the first officer’s air data computer, it read approximately 3 ½ degrees low. This is roughly 45 to 50 feet. The captain’s altimeter was well within spec, in general it was within approximately 7 feet. We then checked the correlation of the encoder, which is used by the transponder. This is checked by comparing the point at which you transition from one code value to the next as compared to the altitude data being transmitted to the indicator in the panel. This was in general less than one degree on both units, which is within 14 feet.
And individually we tried — we worked the servo unit up to air data computer and ran them through the same range, 2,000 feet. The altimeter connected to the captain’s air data computer generally responded to less than 10 feet. First officer’s was between minus 30 feet and 50 feet. Following this, we ran what we call a coast test of the servo. This test was to determine if the computer was being driven as it would be in the case of a descent and power was cut off, would the computer continue to move, thereby destroying the validity of the original set of data we took off the output devices. This test was run at top rates of descent, 1,000 feet per minute and 2,500 feet per minute. In the case of the captain’s altimeter, so-called coast effect was less than 7/10. The first officers altimeter approximately two feet. We considered this gave the original output devices reasonable values that we could accept.
Subsequent to this we performed a monitor check. This took special test equipment and this was done back in New York. What we did in this case was we isolated the modules for the air data computer and used jump cables, so that electrically they were connected even though they were set aside on some special test boxes. This allows us to, with the computer and the particular modules concerned, tied together, we can inactivate the servo, but still have power applied, and determine whether then monitors were still operating. The monitors on the both the first officer’s and the captain’s operated properly. This and some subsequent testing also verified not only did the monitors operate, but at the time that the monitor operates, the encoder output was cutoff automatically.
At one point in time the subject came up, were the sensors capable of performing when submitted to assorted acceleration factors, as you might have when the aircraft might pull some G’s if you made a sharp pull up.
We made some special test pictures and adapted the altitude modules to a centrifuge. Units were tested individually for this. We subjected them from zero to one, back to zero; from zero to four G’s, back to zero; then up to ten G’s and back to zero. This was done at an altitude level of approximately 500 feet. The first officer’s altitude module from the air data computer at 10 G’s, the output varied 3 ½ degrees, which would be equivalent to 100 feet. The captain’s module was within two degrees at 10 G’s, which would put it at approximately 50 to 60 feet. There is no requirement for the 10 G’s. The test was performed in any case. In further testing of the units, we became aware that when the overall air date computers were fired up for a short period of time, the reliability signal coming from the airspeed modules was in the unreliable state and then after approximately 30 seconds to a minute, reliability signal would come back on, indicating a valid state. This was an unusual condition so we decided to pull the airspeed sensor modules off and check them. This was the captain’s incidentally, in case I didn’t mention that. When we opened the airspeed sensor, we found there was a gear disengagement at the output stage on this particular sensor. The sensor has subsequently — gear has been reengaged and everything operated normally.
We were concerned because when we looked at his particular sensor, the gearing is protected with stops, what we call stops in terms of functions, high and low; and also side stops so that the gears can’t disengage by moving axis. All stops were in place. That particular sensor, we checked all the records, dates back to 1967.
We subsequently, as I mentioned, re-engaged the gears properly and then we took the sensor to our test laboratory and performed a shock test in the direction that was indicated as if this disengagement occurred due to shock. We felt that it would probably come in the fore and aft direction of the airplane so we checked it in that direction and levelwise what we did, we said we were not going to try to break it, the normal shock test for a unit of this type would be to expose it to 15 G’s for approximately 11 millisecond pulse. In this case we first tested it at 20 G’s, then we tested it at 25 G’s. The instrument stayed in the sink and there was no disengagement. We stopped at this point because we felt that there may be further testing required for some other functions and it would not be conducive to break the instrument to prove one point.
The air data computers were made ready again and at the request of United, we ran what we called some computer step function tests. These tests consisted of programming pressure changes into the sensor and measuring the time that it would take the output of the air data computer to become stable at the secondary pressure. This was done for values of a thousand foot step function, 500 foot stop function, 200 feet and 100 feet. In the case of the captain’s 1,000 foot function, the response of the overall system, — this is, the air data computer, it was 5 seconds. When you get down to 100 feet, you are talking 3 or 2 ½ seconds. Subsequently we took the computers back up and in order to determine the operation of the monitors, we ran the air data computers at high velocity, and velocity chosen was that value at which point the servo would just indicate at the edge of the monitor trip. We’re talking roughly 100 feet. The captain’s air data computer would run at 21,400 feet per minute and the first officer’s approximately 18,000 feet per minute. Now, that essentially completed the testing that was done on the air data computers.
Q. Thank you Mr. Angus. I may have misunderstood something, but I would like to refer you to page 10 in Exhibit 9-C. This test concerns the position evaluation of the sink rows with relation to the output of the central air data computer. I think I heard testimony, but you spoke of figures of 45 to 50 feet for the first officer’s and 7 feet for the captain’s primary unit. I would like clarification of what the 45 to 50 feet and the 7 feet are in reference to.
A. Those values don’t appear on page 18. The values you are referring to come about on page 21, which is the programming correct pressure into the unit and measuring the output finding sink roll. The data on page 18 is the reading in the “as received” stats of each output module.
Q. Could you explain the page 18 figures for me again sir? I am specifically interested in trying to correlate the position of the sink rows in the “as received” condition to the known pressure altitude.
A. The sink rows that is used to drive the altimeter on the flight panel were read out, using an angle position indicator. Captain’s read out, converted to feet, read out 652 feet; first officer’s read out 558 feet. Now this difference here corresponds to 54 feet, but there would be some small difference depending upon the time sequence of power off, small differences in calibration, things of this nature.
Q. What barometric pressure would these figures refer to, sir?
A. These just refer to the “as received” state. They don’t refer to any barometric pressure. They are measured against what we all call standard altitude. Standard altitude sometimes referred to by pilots at times as QNH altitude. This would be in the case of the altimeter, altimeter set for 29.92 power setting. If you wanted to convert these QNH values, it would be necessary to add the appropriate offset that would correspond to the local baro setting.
Q. How does the pilot produce the QNH baro set into the system?
A. He introduces it to the air data computer. He uses this in terms of his altimeter. When he program the baro setting into the altimeter it automatically puts the baro setting in whether he be using it in standby or servo mode of operation. It puts in an additive factor, adds so many feet to the display.
Q. So in order to correlate the “as received” position of the sink rows in the central air data computer to a given elevation on a given day, we would have to apply the QNH correction, is that correct?
A. That is correct.
Q. Have you done that for these figures?
A. The difference between the standard altitude and the pressure setting, as we were notified, 30.035 comes out to 120 feet. At 120 feet, each of these values, that would be the indicated value being presented to the crew at the time of power cut off.
Q. And knowing the elevation of the impact site is about 620 feet above mean sea level, that represents an error of about 150 feet, 100 feet. Is that correct?
A. That is correct.
Q. Thank you. The encoders verified were correlated with the sink positions?
A. That is correct. The photo transmission point is always at the 50 feet point. The captain had a 652 foot value so that was into the next code bit, which was 700 feet.
Q. Now I would like to refer you to page 27 in this. Again it may be misunderstanding on my part, but I thought that I heard you say that the acceleration test showed an error of approximately 100 feet. And on page 27 I see a statement that all three positions maximum deviation of model sensored was one degree or 27 feet, for acceleration from zero to 10 G’s.
A. When we do a test that is not a standard test for that particular equipment, we always try, particularly in the case of an accident, equipment, we always try to get an equivalent item. So in this particular case we took a sensor that was in stock and first ran the test through on the sensor. That particular sensor was within one degree on all the tests. The data for the two sensors involved is contained on the next page, and that data contains the difference values that I quoted previously.
Q. Were there any other significant findings in the evaluation of the units other than those already discussed?
A. On point we did, on the air data computers we did check the friction level of this and the friction level was down on the order of 2 feet. I think it was two feet on one and seven feet on the other one. We have checked the captain’s altimeter for lead effect on the captain’s, and he is coming out very close to what we consider nominal.
Q. And Mr. Angus, I can’t find it right now, but in the report there is a reference to white flaking material in the static report of one of the central air data computers. Could you amplify that a little for me?
A. Angus: Yes. After we had resumed testing this equipment in Elmhurst, when we were running the monitor test, as I previously mentioned, we had to remove the altitude modules from the Central Air Data Computer so we could run a jumper cable. So it would be possible to interrupt the servo motor pilot. When we separated the module, I am not sure which one it is, that was the first officers unit. When we took the first officer’s altitude module off the computer chassis. There was a white, flaky, material over the connecting port as used to connect the module into the plumbing with the central air data computer that goes to the connection tubes. There was a small deposit, probably two or three cubic millimeters, of very flaky material. We had noted back at United in San Francisco that one of the static lines had some water in it which looked to be like it might be water that had accumulated because of fire. The water wasn’t clean.
Q. Was there any analysis of the white, flaky, material?
A. We, that white flaky material was placed in a sealed box and it is available to the Board if they want to spectrograph it. Now the general assumption on the flaky material is this is contained on a stainless steel pressure port which fits into an anodized aluminum. It was just felt his loose — all the people called in with reasonable chemical background indicated it was more likely an aluminum oxide.
CHAIRMAN BURGESS: What?
THE WITNESS: An aluminum oxide.
MR. STREET: I have no questions.
MR. LAYNOR: I wasn’t through.
CHAIRMAN BURGESS: I am sorry, Mr. Laynor is still continuing.
MR. STREET: I am sorry.
(Discussion off the record)
BY MR. LAYNOR
Q. Mr. Angus, I believe in your testimony you commented to the fact that to your knowledge of these systems are connected to two completely independent static systems. It is true then that both static systems will have to be effected in a similar manner to cause essentially the same error in the system?
A. It would appear that way due to the fact they have this more than tolerance difference in the particular outputs of the computers.
Q. Are the static systems, again to your knowledge, you could refer to exhibit 9-E, were the static systems which feed the central air data computer common in any way to the captain to the captain or first officers air speed indicators?
A. First of all, you are talking, “as received” correct?
Q. Yes, sir. First of all, as I understand it, the central air data computer themselves transmit no information to the air speed indicators in the cockpit. It this true?
A. This is correct.
Q. And the airspeed indicators?
A. The pitot input — the panel requirements for pilot pressure come off separate pitot tubes according to this diagram. In other words, there is a pilot tube that supplies the captain’s panel, a pilot supply for the first officer’s panel, pilot for each air data computer independently.
Q. How about static systems, sir?
A. It would appear to be the same way for the static except in the case of static there, they cross over — in other words, there is a right and a left pitot static tube tied together to provide what is called a balanced pitot static. I think in this case there were dual statics for each side, thus providing a line for the indicator separate.
Q. Okay. I realize that the static system installation is not in your area of responsibility, but can you discuss possible reasons why the static system errors — although of a magnitude reflected in the sink row telepositions in the central or data computers, could have occurred? Can you offer any rational explanation as to why the central air data computers could have been reading in the direction they were?
A. I am afraid I will have to pass that at the moment.
THE TWO DISABLED ALTIMETERS
James Angus testified that he found contaminant: “The rear connector on the instrument was contaminated with a fire material which more than likely was the mating connector on the electrical harness supplied in the airplane. This material had to actually be dug out.” He found flaky material: “There was a white, flaky, material over the connecting port as used to connect the module into the plumbing with the central air data computer that goes to the connection tubes. There was a small deposit, probably two or three cubic millimeters, of very flaky material.” No spectrograph was run on the flaky material and there was no scientific evidence indicating that it was aluminum oxide.
HEMMING told this researcher: “When you land a big bird, you have got to know your precise altitude.” At the time of the missed approach, the altitude of United Air Lines Flight 533 was thought by the First Officer to be approximately 1,000 feet above sea level. When the National Transportation Safety Board interviewed witnesses to the crash, however, it discovered that the aircraft descended from the cloud base at an estimated altitude of only 400 feet, heading in a northwesterly direction. Shortly thereafter it veered to the right, as the pilot began to execute the missed approach, and was on a northerly heading when the crash occurred. By this time, more altitude had been lost.
No meaningful altitude indications were obtained from either of the altimeters. Captain Whitehouse’s altimeter was virtually intact, but “because of heat damage to the internal components, no assessment could be made of the pre-impact accuracy…” When Captain Whitehouse’s altimeter was disassembled at the Kollsman Instrument Corporation, technicians observed and photographed foreign matter in its gears. Double click here to see the photograph, titled “Captain’s Altimeter – Gear with contaminant in teeth.” [Gear.JPEG] Angus never mentioned this.
THE DISENGAGED AIRSPEED INDICATOR
The Captain’s airspeed indicator had also been tampered with. When it was tested, it remained at the high end of the airspeed system. The technicians from Kollsman Instruments reported: “The condition was isolated to a gear and a sector (non-linear) which had become disengaged. This allowed the output shaft to assume a high airspeed position regardless of the input airspeed value.”When the technicians from Kollsman Instruments discovered this problem, they were, according to Angus, “concerned because when we looked at this particular sensor, the gearing is protected with stops, what we call end stops in terms of functions, high and low; and also side stops so the gears can’t disengage by moving axle. All stops were in place. That particular sensor, we checked the records back to 1967.”
THE CENTRAL AIR DATA COMPUTER
The National Transportation Safety Board also discovered common errors in two independent systems that “could have been transmitted from the Central Air Data Computer units to the altimeter of the First Officer.” This static error may have been caused by the contaminant that was found in the altitude modules of the Central Air Data Computer. HEMMING told this researcher: “The Central Air Data Computer tells you if you’ve sprung a leak somewhere, or if something is contaminating your system etc. A little computer tells you right away, ‘turn on your de-icer’ various procedures. It’s a warning system that tells you not to believe your gauges.”
THE PREMATURE POWER FAILURE
The Central Air Data Computers were recovered and both units were capable of normal operation, but their fine altitude synchros showed an altitude higher than crash site’s. Electronic measurement of the #1 fine altitude synchro in Captain’s Central Air Data Computer altitude module showed a phase angle that corresponded to 772 feet above sea level. A similar measurement of the First Officer’s #1 fine altitude synchro corresponded to 718 feet. The technicians at Kollsman Instruments checked the fine altitude synchro #2, and got similar readings. They checked the Coarse Synchro #2, the Cabin Pressure Potentiometer, and the TAT/EPRIL and obtained identical readings. This was odd, since when electrical power was removed for any reason, the altitude synchros did not move, but remained in their position at the moment of power removal. This indicated that the power going to the Central Air Data Computer was cut off at an altitude higher than that of the crash site, before the plane crashed, instead of on impact with the ground. Nonetheless, the NTSB concluded: “The static system errors reflected in the Central Air Data Computer readings at impact do not have a bearing on the events at Midway.”
Even if we accepted the statement of the National Transportation Safety Board that pilot error was responsible for the crash, all the aforementioned malfunctions could have contributed to pilot error. The strongest evidence of sabotage was that the flight recorder had gone off 14 minutes before the accident, so the National Transportation Safety Board claimed it had very little to work with when it conducted its investigation. To compensate for this, it extrapolated flight path data from the traces registered by the flight in the Automated Radar Terminal Service (ART-III) at O’Hare International Airport, which had been tracking Flight 533. The National Transportation Safety Board, however, admitted that data obtained in this manner was far from precise, precluding an accurate determination of the nature and tempo of the events during the 61 seconds before impact.
Researcher Sherman Skolnick was the first to point out that Flight 533 was sabotaged. Skolnick, however, added charges that Captain Whitehouse had been poisoned, and that Midway Control Tower, the Serrelli Mob and El Paso Natural Gas were in some way involved. Skolnick, who is Jewish, is an advisor to the crypto-Nazi organization, Liberty Lobby, which published Spotlight. Andrew St. George and Mark Lane were also connected with Liberty Lobby. HEMMING told this researcher: “A.J. just because they don’t like Jews you’re prejudiced against them. Just because they gassed a few million, you’re getting all upset.”
ANALYSIS: INSTRUMENT SABOTAGE
The technology involved in loosening the set screw on the flight recorder, just enough so that the instrument would stop functioning 15 minutes or so before landing, indicated that this was a professional job. Someone had also manually disengaged the gears on Captain Whitehouse’s airspeed indicator, and had rewired the plane’s electrical system so that it would stop functioning prior to landing. In 1993 the final report of the National Transportation Safety Board on United Air Lines Flight 533’s crash was still available to researchers, but the National Transportation Safety Board had routinely destroyed documents it was based on, since they were over 15 years old. The report mentioned the Central Air Data Computer readings, and the disabled flight recorder was noted in the cockpit voice recordings transcription; no mention, however, was made of the contaminant or the premature power cutoff.
Minutes after the crash, 50 FBI agents rushed to the scene, conducting interviews and seizing evidence. John Reed, the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, protested the actions of the FBI after the House Government Activities Subcommittee had pressured him to do so. In a letter to Acting FBI Director William D. Ruckelshaus, John Reed wrote that “for the first time in the memory of our staff” the FBI had interviewed witnesses and listened to control tower tapes before investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board did. William Ruckelshaus responded that the agents were investigating a Crime Aboard Aircraft, and were within the law, although he did admit that more than 50 agents were on the scene. [FBI 149-10024-12]
NIXON contemplated using the FBI to obtain documents he desired. White House/Special Operations Group member Jack Caufield said Charles Colson told him the Brookings Institution possessed papers needed by the Administration, and that the FBI had adopted a policy of coming to the scene of any suspicious fires in Washington, D.C. Jack Caufield believed Charles Colson had hinted that he should start a fire at the Brookings Institute enabling the FBI to make its appearance and steal the desired documents. [Wash. Post 11.22.74; Jack Anderson 8.9.74] G. Gordon Liddy reported: “The operation that we planned was to purchase several used fire engines from the market where they are available, have them painted and declared in the colors of the Washington, D.C., Fire Department, to have our Cuban assets dressed in the fireman’s uniforms and attending the engines, to have a penetration which would then, during the period of time there would be no one there – so no one would be hurt – start a fire in the Brookings Institution. The first engines to respond would be ours. It would be our people who would enter, and in the guise of putting out the fire, they would take whatever it was that Mr. Colson wanted out of the Brookings Institution. [HUNT] came to me with this task from his principal, who was Mr. Colson.”
One day after the crash of United Air Lines Flight 533, NIXON appointed Egil Krogh Under Secretary of Transportation. Egil Krogh controlled the parent agency of the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aeronautics Administration. Ten days later, NIXON appointed Alexander P. Butterfield as the head of the Federal Aeronautics Administration.
BARKER stated that the death of Dorothy Hunt caused HUNT to give up blackmailing the White House and plead guilty. This benefited NIXON. John Dean discussed Mrs. HUNT’S death with NIXON:
Dean: Mrs. HUNT was the savviest woman in the world. She had the whole picture together before her death.
NIXON: Great sadness.
NIXON considered granting HUNT clemency if he were convicted in the Watergate affair: “I, uh, question of clemency…HUNT is a simple case. I mean, uh, after all, the man’s wife is dead, was killed.” When the FBI examined Dorothy Hunt’s remains, it found $10,000. HUNT denied this was hush money, and he claimed it was going to be used to purchase a franchise for a Holiday Inn. The FBI investigated HUNT’S claim, and discovered that it was not normal for such a fee to be paid in cash and that such a fee would have had to be paid at the main office in Memphis, Tennessee.