Candi Kubeck

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Candalyn Kubeck
Born Candalyn Chamberlain
(1961-05-10)May 10, 1961
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died May 11, 1996(1996-05-11) (aged 35)
Everglades, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Plane crash
Nationality American
Alma mater Palomar College
Metro State College
Occupation Commercial Airline Pilot
Known for Pilot of ValuJet Flight 592
Spouse(s) Roger Kubeck (1987–1996)

Candalyn "Candi" Kubeck (née Chamberlain, May 10, 1961 – May 11, 1996) was an American commercial airline pilot and the captain of ValuJet Flight 592. This flight crashed in the Everglades on May 11, 1996, after oxygen generators illegally placed in a cargo hold started and maintained a fire that disrupted aircraft functionality and flooded the cabin and cockpit with smoke. The crash made Kubeck the first female captain to die in a commercial airline crash.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Kubeck was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, on May 10, 1961. She grew up in the San Diego area and often saw many military aircraft fly over her house. This inspired her to fly airplanes. Kubeck began flying lessons while in high school[2] after which she attended Palomar College in San Marcos where she was a member of the flight team. Kubeck transferred to Metro State College in Denver, Colorado, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Aviation Studies in 1982. While at Metro she flew on the college flight team and was the Team Captain. She was awarded National Top Woman Pilot at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's National SAFECON meeting in 1981. The award has since been named after her.[3] She also earned a Ninety-Nines Amelia Earhart Memorial Flight Scholarship in 1983 and was given the opportunity to meet Amelia's sister, Muriel.


Candi Kubeck began as an instructor pilot at small airfields and working at various commuter and freight airlines based in California and Arizona . From there, she became an Air Traffic Controller at El Paso International Airport. But these were just the first steps to what she really wanted to be. She wanted to fly for commercial airlines. Kubeck applied for the major airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, but as a low-time pilot (pilot experience is measured in logged flight hours) she was not accepted at the time. In 1989, she was hired by Eastern Airlines as a strikebreaker, crossing the picket line during a strike by the company's unionized pilots. It was a move that she believed was necessary to break in, but it also made her a target of harassment by strikers.[4] Upon completion of training, Kubeck was assigned as a first officer on Eastern's biggest plane, the Airbus A300, subsequently leaving Eastern after its abrupt shutdown in January 1991. When low-cost startup Valujet Airlines began operations in 1993 she was hired almost immediately. Kubeck became a captain for ValuJet and flew DC-9s.[5]

Crash of ValuJet Flight 592[edit]

On May 11, 1996, ValuJet Flight 592, a DC-9 she was piloting, crashed into the Florida Everglades just ten minutes after take-off. The disaster was caused when expired oxygen generators illegally stored in the cargo hold started a fire. The flight was scheduled to leave at 1:00 pm, but because of mechanical problems there was a delay. The DC-9 took off from Miami International Airport on runway 9L at 2:04 pm and began a normal climb.

At 2:10 pm, Captain Kubeck and First Officer Richard Hazen heard a loud bang on their headphones. Kubeck said, "What was that?", to which Hazen responded "I don't know." Then the DC-9 began losing electrical power. Kubeck said, "We need, we need to go back to Miami." Hazen asked Air Traffic Control for an immediate return to Miami. Air traffic controller Jesse Fisher asked, "What kind of problem are you having?" Kubeck can be heard on the cockpit voice recording shouting "Fire!".[6] Hazen reported smoke in the cabin and cockpit to Fisher. As the plane was turning left to Miami, it banked sharply to the left, which caused it to lose lift and fall from the sky. Kubeck struggled with the aircraft, but failed; the fire had melted all of the wiring and hydraulic cables in the back of the plane, making it uncontrollable. The DC-9 plummeted nose first in the Everglades, shattering upon impact and killing everyone on board instantly. There was no chance of getting the plane on the ground safely. Kubeck's remains were never identified.


Memorial Scholarship[edit]

In honor of Kubeck, the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Foundation (NIFA) in conjunction with the Chamberlain and Kubeck families created the "Candi Chamberlain Kubeck Award". The $1,000 Scholarship is given out at the Annual International Women in Aviation Conference (WAI) to the nationally ranked Top Female Collegiate Pilot.
2013 Award Winner - Courtney Copping of Southern Illinois University
2014 Award Winner - Blake N. Schuette of Auburn University

Personal life[edit]

Kubeck married Roger Kubeck on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California in September 1987.