WASHINGTON – The mother and husband of the co-pilot of the commuter plane that crashed as it approached a Buffalo airport defended her on Friday against suggestions she was an unqualified pilot who was tired, sick and distracted when the deadly accident occurred.
Rebecca Shaw "was a professional pilot. She took her job extremely seriously. She loved what she was doing," Troy Shaw said of his wife on NBC's "Today" show.
Rebecca Shaw's mother, Lynn Morris, said she felt that not enough was said during three days of National Transportation Safety Board hearings about how qualified and dedicated to flying her daughter was.
"I heard over and over again the issue of fatigue, the issue that she was sick. And she wasn't fatigued, she wasn't sick," Morris said.
Click here for the cockpit voice recorder transcript (pdf).
Rebecca Shaw, 24, and the captain of Continental Connection Flight 3407, Marvin Renslow, 47, apparently didn't notice a sudden drop in the speed of their twin-engine turboprop as the aircraft neared Buffalo Niagara International Airport on the night of Feb. 12.
The plane experienced an aerodynamic stall and plunged into a house below, killing all 49 people aboard and one on the ground.
There was extensive testimony during the hearings in Washington about possible pilot fatigue and critical errors made during the flight.
Other testimony showed Renslow may not have received hands-on training on a key safety feature of the aircraft, the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, and that Shaw had little experience flying in icy weather. The pilots were employed by Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas, Va., which operated the flight for Continental.
The Shaws had recently moved into her parents' home near Seattle and she had flown across country overnight to Newark, N.J., to make her flight to Buffalo.
Troy Shaw said he spoke to his wife just a few hours before the ill-fated flight and "she sounded fantastic, sounded like any other time I'd talked to her when she was on the job."
Morris called her daughter "amazing" and said "she didn't take chances with her flying. The minute she got on that plane she was ready to fly. She had the training. She had the background. She had the experience."
"In my heart I know that she did everything that was humanly possible to make things come out differently," Morris said.