Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption by Emilio Corsetti III (3 Stars)



Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Usually, I shy away from books that rely on heavy technical explanations, but this caught my eye.  I don’t remember ever hearing about this incident, which somehow surprised me as I thought I should have remembered, even vaguely, a story such as this.  In 1979, a Boeing 727 with 89 souls aboard rolled over and fell nearly to Earth from 39,000 feet.  The crew’s actions saved the plane, with no serious injuries (at least not what I had expected).  While initially treated as heroes, the crew later became villified, and this was the part of the story I found most interesting.  The incident took an enormous physical and emotional toll on the crew members.  They became targets of the media who reported unsubstantiated rumors as well as the investigators that tried to pin this on crew error as they had no other plausible explanation.


Not being an aviation expert, I believe the book was well-researched and presented the facts along with the author’s suppositions.  As another reviewer pointed out, the author is a pilot and may be biased to disprove the crew error supposition, but even with my limited knowledge it appears that much more was at work here.  The investigation appeared to be sloppily handled, and the crew didn’t play into the media frenzy resulting in rumors being reported as truths.
A lot of the technical aspects were beyond my comprehension, but I found the personal side of the story compelling enough to keep reading.  Captain Hoot Gibson was someone I would have liked to meet!  The man really lived his life to the fullest, and I admire that he was able to do so in the wake of such adversity that followed him the rest of his career.


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