We were all heartbroken when news about PS752 broke on January 8th, 2020. I wrote the below work of fiction from the perspective of the black box aboard Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 within days of the tragedy. At the time, searching for the black box was a prominent news story, as the world sought facts amid the shock and confusion.
My condolences go out to the loved ones of those 176 people who perished in that terrible tragedy.
The full story is below and on my website.
Moments in Flight
Whenever they have to search for me, it’s after a tragedy. With no survivors, I am the first thing that they seek to find; they are in pursuit of answers, in pursuit of truth.
I was ejected from my designated spot near the plane’s tail, but I continue to store the information as I had been programmed. I know the truth; I only hope that the information I’ve gathered proves to answer the questions asked in times of despair, shock, and heartache.
As I wait to be discovered, I am surrounded by charred debris stretching further than the human eye can see. The wreckage that is scattered around me in millions of pieces — once unified in the form of a commercial airplane full of people with hopes and dreams — will never be fully recovered.
It always bothered me that my sole purpose as a “black box” (which is a misnomer, as I’m actually bright orange) on an aircraft is to shed light on those last moments before tragedy struck. The information I record and store serves to document the last moments of life for those aboard a doomed flight. It’s a condition of my existence that’s proven to be a tough pill to swallow.
When successfully recovered, my crash survivable memory unit (CSMU) will provide audio recorded from the cockpit and hard data — statistics that are updated second to second — for professionals to analyze.
You need not wait for their analysis because I was there.
I was there when the little girl and her brother begged their parents for more snacks, happy to be on board as they told the people in the neighbouring seats that they had never flown before; I was there to see the newlyweds look at one another with love in their eyes, excited as they took flight; I was there when the university student spoke to the woman travelling home to her husband, whom she couldn’t wait to see.
These wondrous moments were followed by a devastating event that is burned in the memory of those who lived through it; an unfathomable disaster in the lives of those who lost the people aboard my flight; loved ones who would never return home.
I know that their final moments caused devastation and heartache that spread like a virus without quarantine, as friends and family members of those aboard learned the terrible truth. For those grief-stricken people, the ones who have our deepest condolences, their lives will forever depend upon that one tragic moment to define all others: moments that occurred before, in the presence of their loved ones, and moments that occurred after.
I can imagine how these people feel; they’re afraid that their loved ones suffered. But those people need to know that the end was but a moment. They didn’t see it coming; it happened so quickly, I can promise you that.
Allow me to remember the final moments so that you can remember and pay tribute to the many moments I did not witness. Regardless of age, the people who lost their lives lived moments filled with happiness, love, and laughter; so many moments in which they loved their family members and friends, served others, and celebrated successes.
Take it from me, a device whose sole purpose is to record the moments: life is not about the final moment lived, it’s about the many moments that made life worthwhile. Since those are moments I could never record, I hope that your memory will serve as your own emotive “black box” to be reviewed when times are tough and the departed are missed.
Live the moments. They live in you.