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COLUMBUS - Pilot Error, the up-to-the-minute feature film, inspired by the true story of a French airline missing in the Atlantic, plays Tuesday March 21 at 6 p.m. at the Drexel Theater.

This special event features a discussion led by two prominent aviation safety experts at The Ohio State University, Integrated Systems Engineering Professor Dr. David Woods and Shawn Pruchnicki of the Center for Aviation Studies.
The film, hailed as a “first class ticket” by the Milwaukee Journal, is based on an event similar to the disappearance of Air France 447 for 22 months. It explores many of the questions being asked following the similar loss of another jet, Malaysia Air 370 in March 2014.

Pilots nationwide have welcomed Pilot Error’s nuanced and fair minded look at their profession. It argues that the number one safety system on any aircraft is a well-trained pilot.

Air France 447 was the first of three accidents since 2009 related to high altitude aerodynamic stalls in the intertropical convergence zone, a complex equatorial region subject to hazardous special weather conditions. In 2014 Air Algerie and Air Asia both lost planes in similar convective storms. These three tragedies took the lives of 506 passengers.

Since Pilot Error’s release, the Federal Aviation Administration has mandated that pilots must retrain for high altitude approach to stall and stall recovery. In addition, every airline simulator must be reprogrammed for this risk. Some vigilant carriers, such as Alaska Airlines, have already completed these important upgrades well ahead of the FAA’s 2019 deadline.

The feature stars award winning Michigan stage actress Kate Thomsen, making her screen debut, as investigative reporter Nicola Wilson. She is determined to find out why a jet headed from South America to Paris disappeared in the Atlantic, taking her close friend and 211 other passengers with it. How, Wilson wants to know, can a plane just disappear?

As Nicola digs deeper into this mystery she puts her job, friends and very livelihood on the line. Even though she knows nothing about aviation, refuses to fly and doesn't speak French, Nicola quickly uncovers astonishing details about the missing flight. Was it preventable? Has it happened before? Could it happen again? And was it PILOT ERROR?

The film, which is appearing on over 200 screens in America and abroad this year, was cowritten by Rapoport with the feature’s director Joe Anderson.
Thomsen has distinguished herself on numerous midwestern stages. A winner of a special Irene Ryan Award for her undergraduate work on the Kennedy Center stage, she earned her MFA at the University of California-Irvine.

Costarring Hollywood actors Richard Riehle (“Office Space”) Robert Cicchini (“Godfather III” and “Waterwalk”), and Larry Herron (“Modern Family”) the film was shot in Michigan, Wisconsin and Paris.

Composer Garth Neustadter won an emmy at the age of 25 for his John Muir In The New World score.

Pilot Error was edited by Gene Gamache, who has won many awards for his work on major studio film marketing campaigns and trailers ranging from Forrest Gump, to 12 Years A Slave and Birdman. He also produced the documentaries Houdini and A Circus Life.

Cinematographer David Darling worked with well-known Detroit director of photography Bruce Schermer, who shot most of Michael Moore’s Roger & Me and was cinematographer on Sundance grand prize winning Chameleon Street.
Pilot Error follows up on the success of Rapoport’s first film Waterwalk, shot in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri(2012), which has played at over 200 theaters nationwide. That story, a father-son retracing of the Marquette/Joliet discovery route of the Mississippi, was filmed along the Fox, Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.

Pilot Error is based on six years of research and interviews with more than 200 pilots, airline executive, plane manufacturers, regulatory agencies and the team that found missing Air France 447 in the Atlantic. The film offers audiences an inside look at the fate of pilots unfortunately kept in the dark about failed automation.

“Top airline training pilots speaking at our events have been warmly received by audiences trying to understand how, in the most interconnected moment in human history, it’s never been easier to hide the truth,” says Rapoport.

About The Event:

Pilot Error screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 at the Drexel Theater, 2254 East Main St., Columbus. (614) 231-9512. For more information contact Roger Rapoport at (231) 720-0930 or To arrange an interview with Dr. Woods contact him at Contact Shawn Pruchnicki at

To receive a DVD of Pilot Error or stream the film in advance of this event please contact Roger Rapoport. See the film’s trailer here. Visit the pilot error website

About the Speakers:
Dr. David Woods is an award winning expert in human interaction with technology and past-president of the Resilience Engineering Association and of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society. He studies how people cope with complexity in time pressured situations such as critical care medicine, aviation, space missions, intelligence analysis and crisis management. His latest work involves modeling and measuring the resilience of organizations and distributed systems. Professor Woods has investigated accidents in nuclear power, aviation, space and anesthesiology, and was an advisor to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. He served on the Flight Deck Automation Working Group that authored the 2013 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Report on the Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems. The report addresses the safety and efficiency of modern flight deck systems for flight path management. Professor Woods is the author or editor of eight books and is currently working on a ninth, Outmaneuvering Complexity. He holds five patents for computerized decision aids, has served on National Academy of Science (Engineering the Delivery of Health Care - 2005, Dependable Software - 2006, and Autonomy in Civil Aviation -2014), and on other advisory committees (Defense Science Board Task Force on Autonomy - 2012), and testified to U.S. Congress on safety at NASA and on election reform. His research has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business Week.
Shawn Pruchnicki is currently a faculty member at Ohio State where he teaches aviation safety, human factors, accident investigation and complex aircraft operation for the Department of Aviation. Other teaching responsibilities have included teaching cognitive engineering for the Industrial Systems Engineering Department and clinical toxicology for the College of Pharmacy. Shawn also functions as an independent contractor/Research Engineer for San Jose State University at NASA Ames in addition to work performed in his own company, Human Factors Investigation and Education. Prior to coming to OSU, he flew as a Captain with Comair Airlines (Delta Connection) for 10 years flying the Canadair CL-65 regional jetliner.

Shawn was extensively involved with both local and national safety work for the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) and held many national and local positions including Director of Human Factors, local safety committee Vice-Chair, and both Assistant Chief and Chief Accident Investigator for ALPA at Comair. He has also served on or co-chaired several national aviation working groups with the FAA. With ALPA, he has worked numerous accident investigations with the NTSB including the Comair 5191 Lexington, KY accident where he was ALPA’s principle human factors investigator. He was recently featured in the film documentary “Sole Survivor.”



For Immediate Release: Conract: Roger Rapoport
(231) 720-0930