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Old 03-19-2006, 07:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Origin of "Souls on Board"

I don't know if this is the right forum for this topic or not, because I don't think I'm sharing any knowledge, but I am seeking some enlightenment.

I was recently taking a student on a cross country weekend and while filing my flight plan through FSS, I told the briefer there were 2 souls on board my aircraft (T-34). My student and I got to wondering what the origins of that phrase were during the flight.

I've searched the internet and was unable to find anyting about it (other than some band by that name in Australia I believe).

Does anyone have any input as to why we use "souls" and not "people" when reporting the number of crew and/or passengers?

Thanks in advance,

marinepilot
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I remember hearing once something about confusion as to how many people are on board when it gets broken down into
Crew
Passengers
Infants

So the simplest form of getting the total number of humans is "souls" on board.


If there's a management person on board with no soul...do they count?
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Old 03-21-2006, 06:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Talking souls

Hmmm, I heard it's just a contraction for convenience and clarity. There was some confusion once over a mayday call from a charter flying to a lawyers' convention. So now we omit the "A-" prefix and just give the total. Most people just use the acronym for that "... on board" term when referring to those guys.
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Old 03-24-2006, 11:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've heard that it came from carrying human remains on board. If your plane crashes, they can get an accurate body count of who was alive before the plane went down by reporting "souls on board".
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Old 03-26-2006, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Red face little-known Shuttle fact re ghost crew

It's been kept pretty quiet that the shuttle flew a few missions with an instrumented human cadaver head on the middeck wall in a bag. Purpose was to get some data on cosmic-ray effects on the human brain as exposed on shuttle mission durations outside the atmos. The gel stuff they tried using at first in the so-called "phantom head" to sim brain tissue was not quite replicative of the real thing. To avoid weird publicity NASA kept it pretty quiet. But obviously the crew was told (they had some cute name for it I forget at the moment), and the KSC crash crews had to know otherwise there might have been some highly awkward findings during any accident/rescue scenarios.
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Souls on Board originated with ships - when putting out an SOS - they would include the number of passengers needing rescue as Souls On Board
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoddardRocket
I've heard that it came from carrying human remains on board. If your plane crashes, they can get an accurate body count of who was alive before the plane went down by reporting "souls on board".
This is my understanding also. Some aircraft cary quite a few bodys in the cargo holds. When ATC asks they want total living humans on board, pax, crew, infants.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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For crying out loud - an HR is an HR is an HR. Human Remains are CARGO - are listed as CARGO are thought of as CARGO. Not once in my years have I ever confused CARGO with a person in the cabin. - where do you people come up with this crap?!?!?
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Talking Hmmm

Well Kraz of course your end of things won't usually have any issues re human remains on board - they're not self-loading and rarely complain. But the people in the silver suits with the big squirty trucks might need to make a crucial distinction there at some point. Like when they're rapidly counting the sodden, singed people lying groaning (or extremely quietly) in or around what used to be your airplane to see if everybody who's anybody is out, or at least somewhat accounted for. Or when those guys with the rubber gloves have to scene-match some odds 'n ends, to see if what they're holding flew there in a seat or in a long box. That'll determine the type of phone call they might need to make very soon. Useful information, somebody has to think about all that stuff. (And there's always the possibility of that annoying situation discussed in my sig.) I know a little-told story about one of those 50's Electra crashes in Texas....but I'll hush up now. Say, you seem to know - what does SOS really stand for?
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Old 03-29-2006, 08:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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For christ sakes - you have watched WAY too many episodes of EMERGENCY and CHIPS. I really think Gage and DeSoto from Squad 51 can tell the difference between an EMBALMED CADAVER WRAPPED IN PLASTIC and Uncle Marv running from your DC-3 with his toupee on fire.

Last edited by KRAZO; 03-29-2006 at 11:55 PM.
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