Lately, aircraft tragedies have led to sometimes inaccurate media accounts and rush to judgment reporting from journalists unfamiliar with flying. However, when journalist AND a former professional airline pilot William Langewiesche writes about an aviation tragedy, expect a well researched and thoroughly engrossing read.
This is the case with his recent (January 2009) piece for Vanity Fair (The Devil at 37,000 Feet) where he writes about the worst disaster in Brazilian aviation history: a September 29, 2006 collision over dense Amazon rainforest between a Legacy 600 business jet and a Boeing 737 carrying 154 people.
From the vantage point of the American pilots, the Brazilian air-traffic controllers, and the Caiapó Indians, Langewiesche reconstructs the most unlikely of aviation tragedies to tell a story of what can still go wrong in the air – even with the most advanced technology available and pilots and air traffic controllers who have years of flying experience. Moreover, Langewiesche is able to cover very challenging aviation related topics in layman’s language so that even non-pilots can understand and follow the story.
Whether you are a pilot or a passenger, the story is thought provoking and well worth a read.