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Breaking News

Concorde Passenger Jet Crashes Near Paris

Aired July 25, 2000 - 11:14 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: While we were talking with the Senate majority leader, a major story developing in Paris, France. Apparently, an Air France concorde jet, shortly after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport, crashed into a hotel. This word coming to the Associated Press, according to firefighters outside of Paris, who have responded to the scene there.

We know very few details at this time. But what we do know, an Air France concorde jet, apparently after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle, did crash nearby in that airport.

With us now by the telephone is a pilot in Paris, Sid Hare is the name.

Sir, can you hear me?

SID HARE, PILOT: Yes, I can.

HEMMER: OK, are you an American?

HARE: Yes, I live outside Atlanta actually.

HEMMER: It's good to have you here, but you are in Paris right now. Tell us about your experience with this. What's your connection?

HARE: Well, I am over here working for Federal Express, on call, actually, and laying in bed watching CNN, and had the window open because the air conditioning is not working very well. And I hear jets all day, but this one was particularly loud. So I got up to see what kind of airplane was making so much noise, and I could not even see the airplane because it was below the tree line. But I am only a half a mile from the runway, so that is very unusual.

Usually, when the airplanes come by this hotel, they are already 1,000 feet in the air. But all I could see was smoke from the exhaust and then, as it cleared some trees, I could see it was the concorde, and tremendously long flames coming out the left engine of the airplane, trailing, probably, 100 feet behind the airplane, and obviously in trouble then.

HEMMER: Sir, I apologize for the interruption. What was the altitude of the plane when you saw those flames out of the left engine? HARE: Probably no more than a couple of 100 feet, couldn't have been more than 200, maybe 300 feet.

HEMMER: OK, what happened next?

HARE: Well, the airplane was struggling to climb, and obviously couldn't get altitude, and then he kept raising the nose, and -- a little bit too high and the airplane stalled, and the nose went straight up into the air, and the airplane actually rolled over to the left, and almost inverted when it went down in the huge fireball when it hit.

HEMMER: We have a report here that it actually hit a hotel on the ground. Do you know anything of that?

HARE: No, that is too far away for me to see. It probably crashed two miles from my hotel, where it took off, when I first heard it was less than a mile -- half a mile from my window.

HEMMER: While we continue our discussion here, Mr. Hare, we are going to run some videotape, file videotape of the concorde, an Air France concorde here. Do you have any experience with these particular aircraft, sir?

HARE: No, I sure don't. I have got experience with the other airplane that was just shown, the 727. I've been a captain on a 727.

HEMMER: Well understood, normally there is a daily flight maybe from London, possibly from Paris, this apparently was en route to New York City. Is it just one flight a day from Charles de Gaulle?

HARE: I think there is more than one. I know there is both Air France and British Air operate out of here.

HEMMER: From your hotel room right now, outside that window you mentioned, what can you see from your perspective?

HARE: All I can see now is still the smoke from the crash site.

HEMMER: Can you see the ground from your perspective, from where you are?

HARE: Yes.

HEMMER: OK, have the firefighters obviously, according to the reports we have, have responded to the scene. Can you see any of those firefighters working on the ground?

HARE: No, that is too far away.

HEMMER: How far away would you say you are from the scene?

HARE: About two miles.

HEMMER: OK, Sid Hare is a pilot working for Federal Express outside the airport there, Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Anything we are missing, sir, before we let you go?

HARE: No, of course, nobody wants to speculate on what the cause, but to me, it is pretty obvious it was engine failure on that airplane, catastrophic engine failure probably number-one engine on the port side.

HEMMER: All right, Mr. Hare, Sid Hare, by telephone there in Paris, we appreciate your time and your input certainly on this story.

Now to Daryn for more news on this.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Another factor we look into when there is plane crashes, is the weather. Let's bring in Flip Spiceland to see what the weather is like in Paris today -- Flip.

FLIP SPICELAND, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just checked. No significant weather in the area, a light breeze and certainly some clouds in the area, as you can see, covering much of France at this time. But no storms, no thunderstorms, not even any significant rainfall associated with these clouds. A light breeze and some cloud cover in the vicinity.

So we do not believe that weather would be a player in this. Of course, things always remain to be seen as the investigation goes on. But nobody is reporting any bad weather in the vicinity at this time.

KAGAN: All right, Flip, thank you very much.

Once again, our breaking story that we're following, an Air France concorde jet, flying from Paris to New York, crashed very soon after takeoff today near Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. We'll have more on this as it develops.

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