"A richly detailed story that is equal parts heartbreaking, inspiring…and full of fascinating science…masterful." —San Francisco Chronicle
As hundreds of rescue workers waited on the ground, United Airlines Flight 232 wallowed drunkenly over the bluffs northwest of Sioux City. The plane slammed onto the runway and burst into a vast fireball. The rescuers didn't move at first: nobody could possibly survive that crash. And then people began emerging from the summer corn that lined the runways. Miraculously, 184 of 296 passengers lived.
No one has ever attempted the complete reconstruction of a crash of this magnitude. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, crew, and airport and rescue personnel, Laurence Gonzales, a commercial pilot himself, captures, minute by minute, the harrowing journey of pilots flying a plane with no controls and flight attendants keeping their calm in the face of certain death. He plumbs the hearts and minds of passengers as they pray, bargain with God, plot their strategies for survival, and sacrifice themselves to save others.
Ultimately he takes us, step by step, through the gripping scientific detective work in super-secret labs to dive into the heart of a flaw smaller than a grain of rice that shows what brought the aircraft down.
An unforgettable drama of the triumph of heroism over tragedy and human ingenuity over technological breakdown, Flight 232 is a masterpiece in the tradition of the greatest aviation stories ever told.
Journalist Gonzalez (Deep Survival) finds grace amid tragedy in his searing study of the fiery 1989 crash of United Airlines Flight 232: 184 of the 296 passengers survived, and the drama unfolded over 44 nerve-wracking minutes while the pilots wrestled the plane towards an airport after an explosion destroyed the hydraulic controls, a catastrophe that should have rendered the huge DC-10 jet unflyable. Working from extensive interviews with survivors and rescue workers, Gonzalez presents a engrossing, cinematic account of the crash and the ordeal that preceded it as crew and passengers prepared themselves for almost certain death. There's heroism here, and dumbfounding twists of fate that allowed the lucky to step straight from flame and carnage into a sunlit Iowa cornfield with barely a scratch. Along the way, Gonzalez presents an absorbing account of the delicate machinery of flight and the titanic forces it must withstand and of the investigation that traced the disaster to a tiny flaw therein. Gonzalez's gripping narrative shows us people at their most vulnerable, and admirable. Photos.
Riveting, brilliant, heart-breaking. I read non- stop for 2 days.