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  1. #1
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    1961 Sabena Flight 548 Airplane Crash

    I Googled but couldn't find the answer. Why was the entire US figure skating team on the same flight? Obviously that would never happen now, but was that a common practice back then?

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    I'm sure I read somewhere that as a direct result of the crash, the entire team never travel together by air. I suppose it was common practice back then. Far fewer options in terms of airlines and number of long haul flights would, I imagine, have made the idea to travel together a sensible one in principle at the time. But this was not without precedence:

    1958 Manchester United Munich Air Disaster

    Actually thinking about it, doesn't this still happen? I'm sure football teams all travel together. Certainly the England Squad were shown landing in Rio yesterday on the same plane. I also remember many of the British Olympic team including almost all of the medallists, flying home together from Beijing in 2008 and a TV special meeting them all at the airport.
    Last edited by floskate; 06-09-2014 at 03:21 PM.

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    I remember seeing video of the entire US Olympic swim team traveling to the London Olympics on the same plane but I think they were all coming directly from a centralized training center that they'd been at for over a week.

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    Sadly, yes. My coach's coach was on that plane. Bill Swallender was Doug Ramsey's coach. She would tear up everytime she talked about him. And I've seen Frank Carroll reduced to tears at a PSA conference talking about Maribel. Skating was not the same for many years after that crash. If you can see the movie RISE I recommend it.
    "awwww....shades of Janet Lynn" - Dick Button on anyone who makes more than one mistake in their program.

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    The Socceroos all just left for the World Cup on one plane.

    The Australian cricket team also travels together on one plane and I think our Olympic teams do too.

    Honestly, I don't see the big deal with the whole team travelling together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misskarne View Post
    .

    Honestly, I don't see the big deal with the whole team travelling together.
    Guess it's not a big deal until the plane crashes, and the entire national program is wiped out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misskarne View Post
    Honestly, I don't see the big deal with the whole team travelling together.
    While the risk is small of something actually happening, if that small risk actually happens, then the effects are enormous.

    When I worked for a global law firm and they had worldwide partner's meetings in one location, there were limits on the number of people from the same offices who could travel together on the same flights and a schedule was drawn up to ensure that if catastrophe struck then it wouldn't wipe out an entire offices partners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by antmanb View Post
    While the risk is small of something actually happening, if that small risk actually happens, then the effects are enormous.

    When I worked for a global law firm and they had worldwide partner's meetings in one location, there were limits on the number of people from the same offices who could travel together on the same flights and a schedule was drawn up to ensure that if catastrophe struck then it wouldn't wipe out an entire offices partners.
    I've worked for a professional services firm (non-legal) that had a similar policy. For the annual worldwide Partners/Principals meeting that might total anywhere from 80-90 people, no more than two people on any one flight. While sports organizations have different stakes than commercial ones, I still think it would be a good policy if team members were split up on parallel flights when traveling. You just never know....

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    Some sports teams travel on chartered flights, though--probably because of tight schedules and/or unusual origin-destination pairs, so it's not always practical to have just a few people on each flight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by floskate View Post

    Actually thinking about it, doesn't this still happen? I'm sure football teams all travel together. Certainly the England Squad were shown landing in Rio yesterday on the same plane.
    I don't know about the English soccer team but the Germans had their own plane which is why they flew all on one plane. Together with their physical therapists, coaches, cook etc.
    But I think it's more common for sport teams to fly together because they are a team whereas skaters are individual competitors. They don't compete at the same day(s) which is nowadays probably also part of the reason why they don't travel together anymore.

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    Of course it's a common thing. It's less expensive by group, and it's better to travel all together, it's good for team spirit.
    The problem is , indeed, when there is a crash like that : a real tragedy.
    In Ballet on ice and Synchro, a lot of teams try to travel together, to minimize the bill and to make organization easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fenway2 View Post
    I Googled but couldn't find the answer. Why was the entire US figure skating team on the same flight? Obviously that would never happen now, but was that a common practice back then?
    According to the book "Frozen in Time", one of the reasons given for the team traveling together is that the competition was being held behind the Iron Curtain. Since this was during the cold war, the skaters and coaches were nervous about the political climate and thought there would be safety in numbers.

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    Another contributing factor was that Worlds was scheduled immediately after the North American Championships in 1961 so it basically was not an option for the skaters to fly on different days. And, there were many fewer international flight choices in those days, although the Canadian team (also going direct from North Americans) did end up on a different flight out of New York that connected through Amsterdam instead of Brussels.

    As for this not happening any more.... That's wishful thinking. In the spring of 1996 there was a pro-am competition in Boston immediately following Worlds. The entire US team was put on the same red-eye flight out of Edmonton in order to get to the event in Boston the next day.

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    I just figure skaters don't necessarily fly together because they all train in different parts of the world--more about logistics than policy. But what about top 3 Canadian and top 3 US ice dance teams, who all train in Detroit/Canton? Did they fly in separate planes to Sochi?

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    Quote Originally Posted by briancoogaert View Post
    Of course it's a common thing. It's less expensive by group.
    How is it less expensive to fly every team member to one centralized location and then put them on another plane to fly all over again to the actual competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minignome View Post
    According to the book "Frozen in Time", one of the reasons given for the team traveling together is that the competition was being held behind the Iron Curtain. Since this was during the cold war, the skaters and coaches were nervous about the political climate and thought there would be safety in numbers.
    Thanks for that tidbit!

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