A Crash's Improbable Impact
On a snowy day 25 years ago tomorrow, co-pilot Roger Alan Pettit was at the controls of an Air Florida jetliner taking off from Washington National Airport. As the plane rolled down the runway, Pettit looked at his instruments. Something was wrong.
"God, look at that thing," he told the plane's captain, Larry Wheaton, apparently referring to an anomaly in engine instrument readings or throttle position. "That doesn't seem right, does it?"
Pettit repeated himself, but Wheaton ignored him, according to a transcript of the cockpit voice recording. The crew continued down the slushy runway. After lifting briefly into the air, the plane slammed into the 14th Street bridge, killing 78 passengers, motorists and crew members, including Pettit and Wheaton, on Jan. 13, 1982.