Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Screening Set For Documentary About Sole Survivors Of Plane Crashes: Lexington, Kentucky

 Jeff Garris, right, of the Lexington Fire Department, and Louis McClain, left, of the Frankfort Fire Department, look over wreckage of Comair Flight 5191 at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, Tuesday, August 29, 2006. The flight crashed on takeoff August 27 after using a runway that was too short, killing 49 people.

Sole Survivor, a documentary film that includes Jim Polehinke, the co-pilot and lone survivor of the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington, will be screened July 18 at the Kentucky Theatre.

The film marks the first time Polehinke and his wife, Ida, have spoken publicly about the crash, which killed 49 people at Blue Grass Airport on Aug. 27, 2006. For the documentary, filmmaker Ky Dickens focused on Polehinke and three other sole survivors of airline crashes.

There are only 14 known sole survivors of commercial airline crashes in the world. The film seeks to illuminate that experience of those people who, for the most part, have not discussed their experiences publicly.

Polehinke is the only pilot among the survivors, and the film addresses him living with the knowledge that a National Transportation Safety Board's investigation determined that the crash was caused by pilot error.

"First of all, he would have rather died," Ida Polehinke said in a film clip that was provided last fall to WKYT (Channel 27). In a transcribed quote posted on, she said, "His conviction as a pilot was so great that he would have rather gone down with the ship. And that is how he felt. His heart was always with the passengers and never ever with himself. It is such an emotional cross that he bears that no one really sees but me. I wish we could convey that. And he would have given anything to have gone with all of them rather than sitting here today doing this."

The Polehinkes are featured prominently in promotion for the film, particularly a photo of the former pilot in his wheelchair, watching an airplane take off. Polehinke lost the use of both legs in the crash, and one leg was amputated below the knee. Dickens said Polehinke was the only person in the film with a significant disability as a result of a crash.

The film recounts that Polehinke keeps under his wheelchair a page from the Herald-Leader with photos and profiles of all the victims of the crash.

Sole Survivor has screened in Minneapolis and near Detroit, the sites of other crashes profiled in the film.

Dickens and film producers will attend the Lexington screening and will take questions after the film. According to the film's Facebook page, proceeds from the screening will be donated to "various foundations to support the visions and philanthropy of 5191 victims' families."

NTSB Identification: DCA06MA064.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Scheduled 14 CFR operation of COMAIR INC
Accident occurred Sunday, August 27, 2006 in Lexington, KY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/27/2007
Aircraft: Bombardier, Inc. CRJ-100, registration: N431CA
Injuries: 49 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-07/05.

On August 27, 2006, about 0606:35 eastern daylight time, Comair flight 5191, a Bombardier CL-600-2B19, N431CA, crashed during takeoff from Blue Grass Airport, Lexington, Kentucky. The flight crew was instructed to take off from runway 22 but instead lined up the airplane on runway 26 and began the takeoff roll. The airplane ran off the end of the runway and impacted the airport perimeter fence, trees, and terrain. The captain, flight attendant, and 47 passengers were killed, and the first officer received serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 and was en route to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
the flight crewmembers's failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane's location on the airport surface during taxi and their failure to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew's nonpertinent conversation during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness, and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearances.

Full Narrative:

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