Popular Mechanics has a tremendously interesting article based on a recent book that provided transcripts of the black box recordings of this flight as it went down over the Atlantic Ocean.
For someone who is not a pilot, but has read something about it, it seems hard to believe that a professional pilot of any level of experience would keep pulling back on the stick through a number of minutes of a stall alarm. Nifty flight simulator programs teach you that much. In the comfort of your own home. With nothing but virtual skill on the line.
Well, maybe not so much. I think this is an excellent illustration of how hard it is for us to change course when things are going wrong. We stick with familiar habits and look for obvious solutions. The greater the pressure, the more likely (as the article notes) we are to cling to the familiar.
Perhaps there’s a lesson for all us non-pilots in this. Besides not saying something you haven’t had to do yourself is simple, perhaps we all have habits of mind that we might need to work on if we’re going to be up to responding to a fast moving world.