From Publishers Weekly
Much more than a straight retelling of U.S. Airways flight 1549's miraculous landing on the Hudson, Langewiesche's latest uses the story—and the heroism of pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles—as a lens through which to examine the advances in and flaws of modern air travel and piloting. David Drummond delivers a solid reading, relaying the detail-laden text—the backstories of the pilots, the technical information, the gripping blow-by-blow—with clarity and careful pacing. A subtle performance that enhances and never overwhelms the material. A Farrar, Straus & Giroux hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 9). (Jan.)
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Heroics take a backseat to analysis in this account of the January 2009 Hudson River ditching by an airliner disabled by a collision with birds. Without diminishing the flying feat of pilot Chesley Sullenberger, Langewiesche accentuates the attributes of the plane he flew, the Airbus A320. The first fly-by-wire passenger airliner, so called because the plane’s control surfaces move by electronic command, not by direct mechanical or hydraulic linkages, the A320 also had a stall-proof design feature that Langewiesche says contributed to the successful outcome of the accident. To explain these technological matters, which the adulation bestowed on Sullenberger perhaps obscured, Langewiesche took a field trip to France to interview the brains behind the fly-by-wire innovation. Amid his interview with Bernard Ziegler, Langewiesche declaims on several airliner accidents—one involving a loss of engine power similar to Sullenberger’s flight—that illustrate the author’s theme: pilots’ attitudes toward, and aptitude with, the computerized cockpit. Ziegler’s engineering philosophy, which is to make commercial flying idiot-proof, is contrasted with pilots’ attitudes, since they tend to resent technology that trumps their expertise. Langewiesche synthesizes everything into a breathtaking narrative of the now-famous landing in the Hudson. In contrast with Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty (2009), this work’s discernment of underlying issues contributes depth to the feel-good story --Gilbert Taylor