Derg man 'saves US flight' from Sandy

Published Thursday, 15 November 2012
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A Co Tyrone amateur radio enthusiast claims to have averted disaster and saved the lives of hundreds of people, after intercepting a mayday call from a Dublin to Boston flight.

Derg man 'saves US flight' from Sandy
Castlederg man Benny Young with his radio equipment. (© Pacemaker)

Benny Young, 29 and from Castlederg, told the Ulster Herald he made contact with the pilot of a United Airlines transatlantic flight who was having difficulty reaching Air Traffic Control in Boston.

It happened on the night of Monday 29 October, when Superstorm Sandy began to hit the east coast of America.

"The flight couldn't hear anything on the ground," Benny told the newspaper.

"They must have thought they were going to be able to land before the weather turned. Then the storm arrived and they didn't think they were going to reach Boston at all."

Tuning in to the American emergency frequency, Benny then claims to have made contact with a fellow amateur radio enthusiast, who in turn contacted Logan International Airport.

By relaying messages in this way, the plane was said to have been safely diverted to land at an airport in Buffalo.

I had just been turning the dial on the radio and this was what I landed in.

Benny Young

"It was one of those freak incidents. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before," Benny said.

On the same night, incredibly, a second flight was said to have experienced similar difficulties while en route from Heathrow to Boston.

"I did the same thing and this time the plane was re-routed to JFK," Benny, who is a member of Strabane Amateur Radio Society, said.

The society's secretary, Terry Whyte, told the Ulster Herald that Benny should be proud of himself.

"Certain stations are set aside on these bands and Benny was at the right frequency at the right time," he said.

"He recorded everything in his log, but we still gave him a good grilling at the last club meeting - in fact, everyone else is jealous. This kind of thing is an amateur radio man's dream."

However, the Irish Aviation Authority told UTV it would have a record of any flight out of Dublin experiencing such problems, whether it happened in Irish or foreign airspace.

"I checked with our North Atlantic Communications station and they experienced absolutely no communications issues during the time of Hurricane Sandy," a spokesman said.

Benny displays the log notes he took during the incident.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
11 Comments
Kevin Bridges in Glasgow wrote (283 days ago):
Did ye, aye?
RAF in Vermont, USA wrote (643 days ago):
Why to go Benny. When all else fails, ham radio is there.
K0JAD Jim in Surprise AZ wrote (644 days ago):
Way to do it there Benny. We hams have been doing these kinds of things for decades. Good Job!
Fred Raco in Johnstown, PA wrote (645 days ago):
Way to go Benny. Makes us all proud to be hams. 73s - Fred N3JCV.
Mike Carbaugh- K3OCW in Dallastown PA. USA wrote (647 days ago):
This very well may have happened. But, I don't think the 2nd flight would be routed to JFK. As I understand, JFK was locked down Sunday. All planes departed. But it may have landed due to the emergency ??? I was quite busy keeeping watch on my ham radio antennas with the 70 mph wind gust we were getting. 73 Mike K3OCW
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