The Mystery of Flight 427: Inside a Crash Investigation

Bill Adair, Author . Smithsonian $25.95 (256p) ISBN 1-58834-005-8

Adair's powerful newspaper series has been expanded into an even more potent book. An award-winning St. Petersburg Times scribe, he spent six years probing into the events surrounding USAir Flight 427; here he reconstructs the crash and aftermath in such meticulous detail that characters, dialogue and events spring to life. The seven-year-old Boeing 737 was on a routine flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh Sept. 8, 1994, when dozens saw it plummet from the sky near a shopping center 10 miles from the Pittsburgh airport. All 132 people aboard died, and the plane, which had virtually disintegrated, left few clues for National Transportation Safety Board investigator Tom Haueter. Adair takes the reader inside the cockpit to share the final white-knuckle moments of a baffled crew; he then traces every step of Haueter's investigation, which brought together the NTSB, Boeing, the Air Line Pilots Association, USAir and the FAA, along with the machinists' and flight attendants' unions. There were years of rigorous tests and intense meetings, with Boeing and ALPA locked in a continual conflict. Was it pilot error? Mechanical failure? Woven throughout is the tragic tale of Brett Van Bortel, who lost his wife in the crash. Adair's exhaustive research involved hundreds of hours of interviews with more than 60 individuals and over 10,000 pages of investigative reports and documents. Here is a compelling mystery in a book of first-rate journalism, and strong suspense is generated before the final revelation of what caused the crash. 32 b&w photos. (Apr.)

Forecast:As headlines have heightened current concerns about flying, readers will reach for any title promising insights into air safety, and this one certainly delivers.

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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