[09/16/13 - 08:37 AM]
Smithsonian Channel(TM) to Premiere "Terror in the Skies" Sunday, September 29 at 8PM ET/PT
The series uncovers gut-wrenching stories of imminent disaster, told by survivors, witnesses and air-accident investigators.

[via press release from Smithsonian Channel]


Series Investigates Eyewitness Videos From Frightening Near Misses in the Air

New York, September 16, 2013 - TERROR IN THE SKIES, a gripping new series that investigates terrifying near-disasters in air travel using user generated content (UGC) from passengers and eyewitnesses, premieres Sunday, September 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

Rapid growth in global air travel has put increasing strains on the aviation industry, and as more people take to the skies, they're taking phones and camcorders with them. And in moments of crisis, they are capturing it all on video. TERROR IN THE SKIES gives unique insight into these alarming events. The series uncovers gut-wrenching stories of imminent disaster, told by survivors, witnesses and air-accident investigators.

By most measures, air travel has never been safer. But UGC reveals serious concerns, including pilots asleep in the cockpit and terrifying close calls caused by careless maintenance errors. TERROR IN THE SKIES uses these amateur videos as a new forensic tool - combined with genuine air traffic audio recordings, expert analysis and detailed CGI deconstructions - to examine what happened in each incident and how airlines and the industry have responded.

TERROR IN THE SKIES: PILOT ERROR - Premieres Sunday, September 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Pilot error lies at the heart of nearly 70% of today's aircraft accidents. This episode reveals incidents where human limitations threatened lives. In 2012, a man flips out mid-flight and is wrestled to the ground by passengers. It's a lucky escape for all on-board because the distressed individual is no ordinary passenger�he's the captain of the plane. An incident at Hamburg Airport in 2008 illustrates how computers can sometimes contribute to pilot error, not reduce it. Footage by survivors of a Turkish Airlines flight that crash-landed at Amsterdam airport in 2009 raises the question of whether computers are overwhelming pilots at key moments, causing them to make simple errors. A teenager's cell phone captures the blazing inferno caused by Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashing into a house in western New York. The lead investigators and former pilots provide chilling details behind the lifestyle of American regional airline pilots, where flying tired is just part of the job. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who crash-landed USAIR flight 1549 in the Hudson River, provides eye-opening insight into the state of aviation industry with regard to pilot training and experience.

TERROR IN THE SKIES: TECHNICAL MELTDOWN - Premieres October 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Passengers aboard a packed Airbus A320 are watching a TV news story about a plane in serious trouble - only to realize it's their plane. The front wheels are stuck at a 90 degree angle, and no one knows what will happen when the plane tries to land. A pilot's quick thinking and skill averted a bigger disaster at London Heathrow Airport in 2008. As his Boeing 777 comes in to land, it loses power in both engines simultaneously and begins to fall through the air, giving the pilots less than 30 seconds to react. Shortly after the highly anticipated release of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, disaster strikes in Japan when pilots detect a harsh odor in the cockpit and make an emergency landing. One week earlier, smoke had been detected on another 787, and a fire had broken out. Investigators look to the one thing that makes the Dreamliner unique: its batteries. Just four minutes into a flight on board Airbus' new superjumbo, the A380, one of the engines explodes. All of these incidents reveal how even minor technical glitches can have disastrous consequences.

TERROR IN THE SKIES: SMALL MISTAKES - Premieres October 13, at 8 p.m. ET/PT

From maintenance to air traffic control, this episode investigates what happens when small mistakes become dangerous problems or worse. Passenger footage takes us on board Polish LOT flight 16 in 2011 as it prepares to touch down. The wheels won't drop, and the captain is forced to bring the plane to the ground on its belly. In August 2007, George Ishizaki and his son stand, camcorder in hand, at the gate as China Airlines 120 explodes before them. TERROR IN THE SKIES looks at what caused the explosion, and traces the evidence chain back to a thumb-sized washer that slipped off during a maintenance check six weeks earlier. At midnight in Knoxville, the air traffic controller on duty is asleep in a makeshift bed as planes touch down without him. He's not the only one. TERROR IN THE SKIES tunes into the frequency of five American air traffic controllers who dozed off during their night shifts. In 2009, a Southwest plane bursts open mid-flight. Two years later, it happens again. Passengers David Smith and Sheryl Bryant explain how it feels to suddenly lose pressure at 35,000 feet.

TERROR IN THE SKIES: NATURE STRIKES BACK - Premieres October 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT

We want to be able to fly anywhere, anytime. But there's one element of flying we can't change or control - nature. In this episode, stunning amateur videos capture lightning zipping around a plane's body. Passengers aboard a Turkish Airlines flight witnessed their plane not only being struck by lightning but also the engine cover catching fire. The "miracle on the Hudson" incident in 2009 reveals how planes are also susceptible to strikes by large birds. Interviews with pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, an air traffic controller and two passengers aboard the now famous USAIR Flight 1549, provide a 360-degree perspective of the disaster as it unfolds. User generated content also captures the moment a China Airlines flight is slammed onto the runway by strong winds at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport in 1999.

TERROR IN THE SKIES is produced by Arrow Media for Smithsonian Channel and Channel 4. Executive producers for Smithsonian Channel are Charles Poe and David Royle. Executive Producer for Channel 4 is Jill Fullerton Smith. Executive Producers for Arrow Media are Tom Brisley and Thomas Viner.


Smithsonian Channel is owned by Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution. Its programs are largely inspired by the assets of the world's largest museum complex. Smithsonian Channel features award-winning original documentaries, series, and groundbreaking programs highlighting America's historical, cultural and scientific heritage. Smithsonian Channel brings the American experience home in high definition and Dolby Digital 5.1 and is available to customers of DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Verizon, AT&T, and more. Learn more at www.smithsonianchannel.com.

  [september 2013]  


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