After reading Moby Duck I found myself on a plane with nothing to read, and happened to have this book in my cabin luggage for such an eventuality. Quite possibly not the most appropriate reading material while 37,000 feet up, but its better than listening to the crying kid behind me with the ear ache. In my peripheral vision I could see furtive glances from a guy who may have felt like he was sitting next to a bloke with a death wish…
…doesn’t bother me. While I hope against hope that my plane doesn’t embed itself into a corn field or explode into millions of pieces in mid-air, I don’t have a fear of flying, love it, and the dangers it entails. However there is also a morbid fascination with plane crashes (which actually extends to ship sinkings, space misadventures, and zombie-esque apocalypses. Not sure why.
I know how. I read the story of Erebus when short of something to do one day (i.e. had probably wanked myself silly over some porn and was at a loose end) which was my partner’s book. Great book, even for a Kiwi one. But other than the investigation, and the flaws and discoveries, it was the transcribed cockpit recordings which held me in its headlights. The saying is ‘dead men don’t talk’, well the black box on aircraft belies that theory.
This book has about 25 such recounted tales of distress and calm in the air as an aircraft, from as small as a 20-seater twin prop, to a 747, and even a space shuttle!
It is a fascinating and enlightening read, took me a day (not a huge book) which does not go too much into anything about flight, its history, its foibles, and its grandness, but sits you down, straps you in, and takes you on a roller coaster ride as planes explode, plummet, and crash land despite non-descript situations.
A lot of the stories I actually knew from a must-see program on Discovery, “Air Crash Investigation” which takes the recordings and re-enacts them with actors and graphics…fascinating viewing, as this book is to reading.
Not all end in complete disaster though, plenty do, of course, but there are some happy endings, and some sort-of happy endings. When all is said and done, while you can choose your friends, you cannot choose your aircrew; and don’t think for a second that just because you choose Air NZ over budget carrier JetStar that you are guaranteed passage. This book will crush your ideas on that theory…there are some good planes, and some bad ones, and the same has to be said for the pilots.
Read it, if you can find it…