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Ball of Flames by Eric Lipps

Author says: what if Obama's plane had gone down in St Louis on July 11th? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

On July 7th, 2008: a McDonnell Douglas MD-81 en route to Charlotte, N.C., and carrying Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and fifty other passengers and crew crashed in St. Louis, killing all aboard.

Initial reports of the accident suggested that an accidentally inflated emergency slide and a nearby fractured walkway railing may have "impinged" on a set of elevator cables, interfering with the cockpit's ability to control the plane's angle, or pitch.

After liftoff, the captain reported that the airplane's pitch continued to increase without a corresponding flight control input and that the pressure required by the crew to level the airplane was "higher than normal". The airplane's pitch reached 20 to 25 degrees before the captain regained control, according to the report. According to Boeing, the report stated, typical pitch angles during initial climb are 16 to 20 degrees, with occasional flights reaching 25 degrees.

Rather than continue on toward Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the crew opted to divert the plane to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after the pilots were unable to correct the pitch control system.

In tapes released by the Federal Aviation Administration about a month after the incident, the captain is heard saying to an air traffic controller: "At this time we'd like to declare this an emergency and also have CFR [emergency equipment] standing by in St. Louis". The emergency equipment ultimately proved unable to save any lives aboard the doomed plane, as it hit the ground about a mile short of the runway and immediately burst into what onlookers described as a "ball of flame".

At this time we'd like to declare this an emergency and also have CFR [emergency equipment] standing by in St. LouisConspiracy theorists were quick to suggest that the plane crash was no accident, noting that Sen. Obama had seemed on his way to becoming the first African-American to capture the presidential nomination of a major political party. Within half an hour of the first reports of the crash, bloggers were speculating that the campaign of Obama's chief rival for the nomination, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton - a favored target of conspiracists since her husband's successful 1992 presidential run - had had the Illinois senator murdered, resurrecting as evidence old and discredited allegations regarding the demise (also by plane crash) of Clinton administration interior secretary Ron Brown and the 1993 gunshot death of Clinton intimate Vincent Foster, which had been ruled a suicide.

"until and unless questions regarding her [Hillary Clinton's] possible role in Sen. Obama's death are resolved"The death of Sen. Obama threw the Democratic presidential contest into chaos. Obama's huge bloc of committed delegates were suddenly up for grabs, but black leaders quickly made clear that they would not allow those votes to be distributed to Hillary Clinton "until and unless questions regarding her possible role in Sen. Obama's death are resolved". Clinton supporters fired back that Obama's people seemed determined to "drag the Democrats into the ditch," in the words of California Sen. Barbara Boxer, if they could not see their man nominated. Furious negotiations failed to produce a solution, resulting in a brutally contentious August convention in Denver from which Senator Clinton emerged the pyrrhic victor: nominated for president, but with key blocs of the party's supporters vocal in their determination not to vote for her.

The November election went to the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, in a landslide, with McCain taking thirty-three states. Democrats also lost control of the House and Senate, which they had won in 2006 amid a wave of voter disgust at assorted GOP scandals. A major factor in the Democratic debacle would be a voter boycott by black Americans, organized by African-American leaders including Rev. Jesse L. Jackson - himself a failed candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 - and New York's Rev. Al Sharpton. Lingering suspicions regarding the role of the Clinton campaign, suspicions diligently stoked by the Republican Party and its media auxiliaries as well as by both Jackson and Sharpton although publicly disavowed by Sen. McCain, also played a role.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

A Selection of Other Contemporary Stories by Eric Lipps

Hanoi Horror City Found on Mars Assassination Attempt Backfires

Eric Lipps, Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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