On April 17, 2018 at 11:03 a.m., the engine of Southwest Airline Flight 1380 broke up in-flight, shrapnel damaging the aircraft in ways that included breaking a window, which resulted in the death of one of the passengers. (Here's a link to an article on the cause of the engine failure.)

One thing that jumps out from the transit chart is that Uranus, the planet that rules break-ups, explosions, and unexpected events, is conjunct the asteroid Phaethon. If you're unfamiliar with this mythological character, he's the son of Apollo who unfortunately crashed his father's chariot into the Sun. Thus, I consider him the "crash and burn" asteroid. Interestingly enough, both Uranus and Phaethon, who are only four minutes of arc apart (a minute of arc is 1/60 of a degree), and thus about as cozy as they can get, are also conjunct the Sun, all in Aries, which often hosts violent events. All are in the 10th house, which suggests a public event.

The chart's ruler is the Moon, conjunct Venus and in the sign of its exaltation. Venus is in a partile (same degree) trine to Pluto, planet that rules death and destruction, suggesting the death of a female passenger. The Moon is trining Mars, snuggled up to Pluto, suggesting the violent nature of the incident. The Moon and Venus are also opposing Jupiter, exaggerating the incident. Jupiter is sextile Pluto as well, creating a Triangle of Potential over which Pluto presided.

Icarus, another asteroid named for a mythological figure with a rather bad reputation as far as flying is concerned, is in the 9th house of long-distance travel. Icarus is the one who thought he could fly by attaching wings to his back, but as he approached the sun, the wax melted and thus didn't end well. Neptune is in the 9th as well, and at the apex of a sextile pattern tying him to Mars and the Moon. This also serves to connect the Moon, Venus, Pluto, and Mars influences already mentioned.

The square between Mercury, ruler of all things mechanical, and Saturn, natural ruler of structure, hints at maintenance problems, especially with Saturn in the 6th house of workers. So that's what was going on with the transit chart for the incident, which already bears the signature of the event. Now let's look at the biwheel with Southwest Airline's natal chart to see how these transits interacted with the airline.

First of all, note that the Southwest's 9th natal house of long-distance travel contains three transiting malefic SWA Natal - Transit Biwheelplanets. For this particular moment in time, Mars is squaring Venus, ruler of the Southwest chart, which is in debility in the 12th house of hidden matters. Note that Icarus, at 03:03 Pisces in the 11th house, is trining natal Mars in the 6th; here's another example of a seemingly "friendly" aspect being anything but--a trine only indicates an easy and powerful energy flow.

Note that Phaethon, conjunct Uranus, as noted earlier, in partile conjunct Southwest's Part of Fortune while the Sun is semisextile natal Icarus, indicating friction and the potential for trouble. The incident's Midheaven is conjunct natal Chiron, showing injury, not only of the passenger, but to Southwest's reputation. Transiting Chiron is conjunct natal Saturn, ruler of structure, which failed.

Transiting Icarus is sextile natal Phaethon, certainly a less than auspicious connection between the namesakes of two mythological figures who definitely had bad experiences with flight. The incident's vertex is squaring Southwest's Moon, indicating a fated event with emotional implications. The transiting South Node in the 10th shows something leaving, again a suggestion that Southwest's reputation was taking a hit. April lunations foreshadowed troubles, particularly when compared to Southwest's progressed chart.

Between April 17 and May 13, there have been five incidents that point the finger at maintenance issues. This one on April 17; a window cracking in flight on Flight 957 on May 2nd; an instrumentation issue related to the flaps for Flight 1118 on May 7; a cabin depressurizing on Flight 861 on May 12; and unexplained smoke in the cockpit on Flight 2799 on May 13. I'm not going to analyze all of them, but clearly this is not a favorable time for Southwest. It's interesting they just had their first Chiron return a while back. Considering how Icarus and Phaethon took a few things for granted about flying, I can't help but think this applies. When you have an aging fleet, structural issues become more serious and require careful inspection and scrutiny. It looks as if Southwest is getting a cosmic kick in the asteroids, to say nothing of the malefic visitors in their 9th house of long-distance travel, the house which also includes such things as legal matters and general expectations. It's too bad modern corporations don't employ an astrologer who could advice them regarding such things as bad transits and the potential for trouble. This example also reinforces my love of the asteroids for shedding additional light on incidents that relate to their archetypal meaning. You can't make this stuff up.

See the companion blog, "Why the Unfriendly Skies?" for more indepth astrological insights.

Asteroids in Astrology

What are Planetary Transits?

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