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Sun, Mar 06, 2005

Pinnacle/Northwest CRJ Crew: 'We decided to have a little fun.'

ATC Recording Of Conversation Prior To Missouri Crash Explains Why A/C Was At FL410

Transcripts of the conversations between the crew of a Pinnacle/Northwest Airlink CRJ regional jet and air traffic controllers prior to the aircraft's crashing in Jefferson City (MO) have revealed the reason why the aircraft was flying at FL410, and possibly why they crashed.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has obtained transcripts of the conversation from the FAA. They reveal that the aircraft, which had no pax at the time due its being a repositioning flight, was flying unusually high because the pilots had purposefully done so, apparently as a way of entertaining themselves.

When queried as to why they were flying so high, one of the two cockpit crew members responded: "Yeah, we're actually ... we don't have any passengers on board, so we decided to have a little fun and come up here." The transcripts do not say who was talking at the time. The crew was later identified as Capt. Jesse Rhodes and First Officer Richard Peter Cesarz.

Soon after that, the pilots reported that their engines shut down, one after the other. "We're going to need a little lower to start this other engine up, so we're going to go down to about 12 or 11 (thousand feet). Is that cool?" the pilot said.

The last transmission took place when the pilot reported the field in sight. At that time, the aircraft was at 9,000 feet.

FMI: www.nwairlink.com

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