Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Flying Achievers Troubled Flight Lands Crew High Honors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

High-Flying Achievers Troubled Flight Lands Crew High Honors

Article excerpt

Mary Parham Burnett was navigating blind in a thunderstorm

above Buenos Aires, Argentina, last November.

The jet's flight instruments and controls had malfunctioned,

leaving the Jacksonville resident unable to determine the

plane's speed or position. The autopilot began violently

pitching the plane up and down.

Then the ground proximity warning system loudly proclaimed,

"Pull up, pull up, terrain, terrain," though there were no

mountains in the area.

For 30 tense minutes, Burnett and the crew of American Airlines

Flight 901 handled the crisis and the plane landed safely with

its 237 passengers.

As a result, Burnett, Capt. Steven Fulmer and First Officer

William Ricks received a national award last month in Spokane,


The Lt. Gen. Harold L. George Daedalian Civilian Airmanship

Award is given to a commercial airline crew "demonstrating

ability, judgment or heroism beyond normal operational

requirements." The recipient is chosen by a Federal Aviation

Administration committee, and the award is presented by the

Order of Daedalians, a military pilot fraternity.

"They had a very unusual situation, and the airplane reacted in

ways that make it difficult for the crew to respond," said

George Hull, national adjutant for the Daedalians. "They had to

figure out what caused it and how to overcome it with an

airplane full of people."

For Burnett, who was profiled in The Florida Times-Union in

1983, it was the latest in a string of achievements.

In 1985, she earned a law degree and specializes in aviation in

practice with her husband, Lane Burnett. She teaches aviation

law at Jacksonville University one night a week. She has a real

estate broker's license. And as a captain for American, she

commutes from Jacksonville to Dallas and then flies to London

and Tokyo nine to 12 days a month.

Mary Burnett's navigational skills on Flight 901 also brought

her the Spirit of American award given by American Airlines in

recognition of outstanding performance. …

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