Posts by David Kerley, Matt Hosford and Jordyn Phelps

  • Eyes in the sky: Inside the undercover world of U.S. air marshals safeguarding you when you fly

    David Kerley, Matt Hosford and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 3 mths ago

    Power Players

    When you board a commercial flight, there’s a chance the person seated next you is an undercover air marshal.

    The undercover federal agents, who work in teams and number in the thousands, pose as ordinary passengers but are trained to respond to the worst-case scenarios on an aircraft, as “Power Players” saw first-hand during a visit to Federal Air Marshal’s training center on the East Coast.

    One of the most emphasized aspects of their training is how to respond to a terrorist assault on board a plane. In one role-playing scenario we witnessed, a terrorist pulled a knife on a flight attendant while a second terrorist began attacking passengers. The two designated air marshals in-training sprang into action, opened fire on the terrorists and neutralized the threat.

    In preparing air marshals for a situation in which they may need to pull their gun to neutralize a terrorist on a plane full of innocent passengers, there’s an emphasis on accuracy.

    For situations like these, Parkes said, air marshals have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the situation warrants blowing their cover.

    ABC News’ Richard Coolidge and Gary Westphalen contributed to this episode.

  • Flying in a storm? The shocking truth about what lightning does to a plane

    David Kerley, Matt Hosford and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 5 mths ago

    Power Players

    When you’re on a plane, do you ever worry about what would happen if it is struck by lightning? Will the aircraft survive?

    “Power Players” traveled to Seattle to meet Boeing’s lightning guy: Rob Steinle, who along with a team of engineers, literally makes lightning – a million volts of electricity worth – and tests its effects on plane models.

    “In here, we're learning where the attachment [lightning strike] is going to happen so we can beef up the materials in those areas, so we can be sure that they can sustain a major lightning attachment,” Steinle explained from inside Boeing’s lightning lab.

    As shocking as it may seem, lightning doesn’t actually severely damage a plane. Jets are designed to shed the electricity -- acting like an extension cord that channels the electric current through the plane’s exterior shell without penetrating its interior. And it’s Steinle’s job to keep it that way.

    “We have to make sure that the thicknesses are adequate, that the locations of those are going to work in that location, and that the protection on those surfaces is adequate,” he said.

    ABC News’ Tom Thornton, Glenn Aust, Brandon Chase, and Bill Ruth contributed to this episode.

  • How to keep yourself and your car out of the winter's next pile-up accident

    David Kerley, Matt Hosford and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 9 mths ago

    Power Players

    It has been a winter of massive pile-ups, and many of the accidents have been caused by simple mistakes. So, what should you do if you find yourself driving in dangerous winter conditions?

    In this special edition of “Power Players,” we take you on a spin around Ford’s winter driving test track to get some answers on how to stay safe behind the wheel.

    Ford test engineer Phil Couture demonstrated one of the most effective and simple tips: If you need to avoid an accident ahead, look where you want to steer the car instead of at the accident. Your steering wheel will follow your eyes.

    It can get a little trickier, however, if you unexpectedly drive on to some black ice, since it is not usually visible to a driver and can cause you to overreact.

    “What happens is you’re not expecting it, when you hit that black ice typically your wheels tend to spin up,” Couture said. “You’ll notice loss of steering control; people try to respond to that by steering the vehicle but there’s no traction because you’re on ice.”

    One of the hardest lessons of all to learn – and one that is counterintuitive—is how to get out of a spin.