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Admiral Cloudberg & The Unnerving Frankness of Plane Crash Reddit — OK Whatever

Admiral Cloudberg & The Unnerving Frankness of Plane Crash Reddit — OK Whatever
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It can make for an odd dynamic. On a post commemorating the anniversary of the Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island, users warn each other about the nightmarish quality of the linked video shot by a local news cameraman attending the show. (There are blood curdling screams audible beyond the wall of fire, then there is eerie silence. 100 people died, another 200-plus were injured. It is decidedly not “guilt-free.”)

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Plane crashes (or, more accurately, aviation accidents) are particularly popular on Reddit’s disaster-minded corners, and the site’s de facto authority is Kylan Dempsey, a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Colorado known to the internet as Admiral Cloudberg

Starting in the fall of 2017, Dempsey has published one highly detailed aviation accident analysis every Saturday, steadily amassing a substantial plane crash analysis archive that spans decades, countries, and causes. The articles read simultaneously as gripping morality plays with a touch of melodrama and as acronym-heavy and startlingly meticulous dissections of human and mechanical error. And they are as compulsively readable as they are highly researched.

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Far from the hyper-literal cataloging of accident reports done by government and aviation industry agencies, Dempsey’s titles channel the pulpy danger of James Bond films: “Compliance Impossible,” “Lightning From A Clear Sky,” “Contract to Kill.”

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His noteworthy technical fluency belies the disciplined pacing of a suspense writer. He’s more than capable of using that reliable ol’ long form journalism trick: opening a story with an attention-grabbing prologue of the disaster to come, then leaping backwards to scenes prior to takeoff and error, pulling the reader along for the whole ride. He peels back layers of aircraft specifications, the training and states of mind of the pilots in question, airport curfews, hasty pre-takeoff inspections. He nods to any interesting passengers on board — the Russian professional hockey team Yaroslavl’ Lokomotiv, for instance. Then things really get going. 



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