- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 27, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780143127321
- ISBN-13: 978-0143127321
- ASIN: 0143127322
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 102 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World's Most Mysterious Air Disasters Paperback – September 27, 2016
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“Fascinating . . . For all the horror stories in The Crash Detectives, the reasonable reader will leave the book more sanguine about modern commercial airline travel than before.”
—Edward Kosner, The Wall Street Journal
“[The Crash Detectives] will bolster your knowledge of the mysteries of air travel. . . . Aviation journalist Christine Negroni uncovers behind-the-scenes stories of the industry’s most famous heroic saves, catastrophes and mysteries.”
—The Wall Street Journal (Books Every Geek Should Read This Fall)
“Christine Negroni is a talented aviation journalist who clearly understands the critically important part the human factor plays in aviation safety. She ‘gets it.’”
—Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, pilot of US Airways 1549 the “Miracle on the Hudson,” New York Times bestselling author of Making a Difference and Highest Duty (now adapted as the major motion picture Sully starring Tom Hanks)
“Negroni is no wanna-be aviation disaster geek. Her resume qualifies her to understand aviation accidents and speak and write with knowledge about them. . . . This is a must-read for those caught up in the whys and hows of aviation accidents.”
—Scott Hamilton, Leeham News and Comment
“Christine Negroni’s book is a refreshing take on airplane accidents. . . . [Negroni] brings the dual perspectives of an inquisitive journalist and experienced air safety investigator.”
—Aviation History Magazine
“An incredible book. Really fascinating.”
—Larry Rifkin, “Mornings with Larry Rifkin” (Hartford, Connecticut)
“I devoured this book. It was extremely interesting.”
—Ron Seggi, USA Radio Network
“In The Crash Detectives. . . . journalist and crash investigator Christine Negroni looks at numerous air crashes—from Earhart’s in 1937 to the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—and explores the different theories about what might have happened and why it can be so difficult to get to the truth.”
“Recommended. . . . The aviation journalist has her own theories about what really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 . . . which led her to explore plane crashes and ‘miraculous saves’ that have occurred over the decades, discovering en route startling revelations.”
—Sacramento Bee (12 new nonfiction titles for fall)
“[The Crash Detectives] makes a compelling case. . . . It puts [MH370] into context by chronicling a string of . . . mysterious air disasters. . . . And it plumbs the reasons why some accidents are particularly hard to crack.”
—Condé Nast Traveler
“Has this aviation journalist solved the mystery of MH 370? Negroni’s quest to find answers, and to place MH 370 in the historical context of plane crashes and disappearances, was the inspiration for The Crash Detectives.”
“The evolution of air safety is rooted in catastrophe. Christine Negroni pulls back the curtain on the people, the places, and the tragedies that have shaped this process over the decades—an unflinching look at a system that most of us take for granted.”
—Patrick Smith, air travel blogger and bestselling author of Cockpit Confidential
“Mysteries are always fascinating; aviation mysteries are especially so because they involve ordinary people. In The Crash Detectives, Christine Negroni combines her investigative reporting skills with an understanding of the complexities of air accident investigations to bring to life some of history’s most intriguing and heartbreaking cases, reminding us that even in the 21st century, aviation still holds elements of the unknown.”
—Bob Woodruff, ABC News
“This is a completely fascinating book that will interest everyone and belongs in every aviator's library.”
—Patty Wagstaff, aerobatic national champion pilot
About the Author
Journalist, aviation blogger, television commentator, and crash investigator Christine Negroni has twenty years’ experience observing and participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She currently reports for the New York Times, ABC News, and Air & Space magazine, and she writes the popular blog Flying Lessons.
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My fascination with the subject started on June 30, 1956, the day that a midair collision over the Grand Canyon involving a TWA Super Constellation, and a United Airlines DC-7 took the lives of 128 people. That fateful day changed air travel forever, and resulted in the complete overhaul of the rudimentary air traffic control system in place at the time. One of the best accounts of this accident was written by the late Macarthur Job, author of several books in the 'Air Disaster' series. The in depth coverage by Macarthur Job of that accident, and the same in depth coverage that he provided in all of his books, is what's missing in 'The Crash Detectives.'
To me, a good aircraft accident forensic book, should cover the story of a particular incident, from start to finish. The problem with this book, is that it jumps all over the place, without covering anything in detail. Just when you expect to read about a particular event in its entirety, the author leaves it in the dust, and moves on to another topic. Unlike MacArthur Job, who was a pilot, and Senior Inspector with the Air Safety Investigation Branch of the Australian Department of Civil Aviation, and for 14 years the editor of the Department’s Aviation Safety Digest, the author of this book is a journalist. A qualified expert analysis and testimony on a range of issues that could contribute to an aviation accident, requires the knowledge of someone with massive experience in the field of aviation. Such is not the case with the author of this book.
Based on all of the rave reviews, I had high hopes for this book. Based on reading it, my hopes were completely dashed. While there were plenty of interesting accidents to discuss, there was simply too little depth to any of them. Perhaps someone who's reading about aircraft accident investigation for the first time would find this book interesting, but for me, it was quite a letdown. I expected accidents to be covered in detail, and certainly without the constant jumping from one accident to another. In addition, a lot of the narrative was unnecessary filler, having virtually nothing to do with the subject of the book. The way this book was written, and with its constant disjointed stories, made me feel like my head was jumping from place to place and spinning in circles. It was very hard to think or concentrate, as every time a story commenced, it was abandoned for a different one. I felt like I was being lectured to by a person experiencing the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder.
Reading this book, was like watching someone do a bad job of multitasking. As mentioned, it was disjointed, lacked detail, and was at times barely readable. I'm afraid that I have to rate this among the worst of the books that I've read on the subject, and give it 2 stars. For the real deal, check out the 'Air Disaster' series by Macarthur Job, or other authors that are experts in the field of aviation. This is a case, where experience as a pilot, or as another type of aviation professional, is essential for writing a book of this nature.
All the accidents covered in the book, and there are many, are in some way tangentially connected to the disappearance of Malaysia 370. The book begins with another aircraft mystery: the disappearance of a Pan Am Clipper flying boat in 1938. From there, author Negroni looks at dozens of accidents involving various scenarios that might also be related to Malaysia 370: accidents involving fire, loss of pressurization, alleged pilot suicide, mechanical failure, system failures, engineering failures, power loss, and many more. None of the accidents are looked at in depth, but the combined effect is to demonstrate that accidents occur due to many different factors and the first impression is not always the right one.
I’ll state upfront that I happen to agree with the author’s belief in mechanical failure rather than pilot suicide in the case of MH 370. I have followed the search for the aircraft and the many expert opinions as to what might have happened. But I have not delved deeply into the investigation. I did not know, for example, that the first officer was new to the plane with less than forty hours of flight time on the Boeing 777. That is a significant detail. Here’s why. I have over 30,000 of flight time. I am type rated in five different aircraft. But even with all that experience, when I get checked out in a new aircraft the first 100 hours or so can be stressful. That’s because I don’t have the familiarity with the aircraft to feel comfortable. If something were to happen in that first 100 hours, I am much more likely to make mistakes in handling the problem despite my experience. That’s why airlines have rules in place where you never place a new captain and a new first officer on a flight. At least one pilot needs to have 100 hours or more. The captain of Malaysia 370 was an experienced 777 pilot. But if the captain were to leave the cockpit to use the restroom, and something were to happen while he was out, such as a rapid depressurization, the scenario Christine puts forth seems plausible.
There were other details about the Malaysia 370 mystery that I was unaware of. I did not know that mechanics had serviced the cockpit oxygen bottles prior to the flight. Christine describes a scenario where there is a rapid depressurization for unknown reasons while the captain is out of the cockpit, and the first officer correctly dons his oxygen mask but, due to a mistake by the mechanics, the supply valve was left partially closed preventing the first officer from getting much needed oxygen. An inexperienced pilot, faced with a demanding emergency, hampered by confusing warnings and possible hypoxia, explains a lot about what could have happened.
As a professional pilot, I tend to shy away from aviation books. I spend enough time on planes to not want to also read about them. But Christine’s book kept me interested throughout. My only complaint, and this is on the publisher and not the author, has to do with images. There is no excuse why the images could not have been placed in context as opposed to appearing at the end of the book. It’s an eBook. It might take a few extra steps in the conversion process, but images in context add to the reading experience.