The runway repaving project at Blue Grass Airport cut off the normal route that taxiing planes used to take off from Runway 22, the long runway that points to the southwest.
That old route involved making a sharp turn at the end of the taxiway. With that section cut off at 6 a.m. Sunday, Comair Flight 5191 made a sharp left turn -- too sharp.
That turn sent the plane onto shorter Runway 26 instead of across to the correct, longer runway. As soon as it had taxied through that turn, Flight 5191 began accelerating down Runway 26, which faced west. It ran out of asphalt before its nose was completely off the ground, hit a berm, clipped several trees and crashed.
At 6:15 Friday morning, a Herald-Leader reporter and photographer taxied onto the Blue Grass Airport runway to get a sense of the conditions that might have been experienced in the cockpit a week before.
By then, some conditions had changed. Among them, a giant, lighted X had been placed on either end of the shorter runway so the mistake of 5191 wouldn't be repeated.
The pilots: What they see
The roll to the runway in the pre-dawn darkness can look, at first glance, like a blur of lights and pavement. Comair Flight 5191 would have passed by the west side of Blue Grass Airport heading toward the intersection of Man o' War Boulevard and Versailles Road. At the left turn to go to the runways, the plane still was moving on a faded gray pavement, a contrast to the dark black asphalt of the newly repaved Runway 22. No lights illuminated Runway 26. It looked like a darkened side street compared with Runway 22. But the two runways cross each other. Lights that are spaced evenly along the edges of Runway 22 extend in both directions off Runway 26 like wings. And the end of Runway 26 couldn't be seen from that point -- at least by a small plane. It's unclear how far the Comair 5191 pilots could have seen down that runway.The pilots: What they hear
Pilots and the air traffic controller have several brief exchanges before a plane is cleared for takeoff.
At the end of the runway comes a berm a fence and a clump of trees.