"Tower, we're going down. This is PSA." That terse message from Pacific Southwest Airlines Captain James McFeron was delivered in the flat, cool tones cultivated by professional pilots. It conveyed no more emotion than McFeron had expressed a few moments before in asking for clearance to land. Yet now his 66-ton Boeing 727 jetliner with 135 "souls on board," according to the jargon of the aviation industry, was hurtling out of control at 280 m.p.h. toward San Diego's residential North Park neighborhood. It was already on fire.
"We'll call equipment for you," replied the tower controller at Lindbergh Field in that same business-as-usual manner. The final word from Pilot McFeron: "Roger."