1 in 11 million: We’ve all heard this before. That’s how likely it is for the average American to die in a plane crash each year. Usually, it comes with this statistic: 1.5% of the time, you’ll die in a car accident. The reason so many people don’t like to fly is because it’s scary.
There are a lot of things we can’t do once the cabin doors close. A car gives us the best chance of not getting into an accident. On a plane, you can’t do anything because you’re “strapped and trapped.”
We’ve put together a collection of books about aviation disasters, as well as some books about close calls. Between the runway and 35,000 feet, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Some of them are true, and some are made up. All of them show what can happen.
Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home
by Nando Parrado
Almost never does a plane crash leave anyone alive, let alone multiple people. There were 16 people on board the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 when it went down. This is the story of Nando Parrado, who was one of those people. The rugby team had hired the plane to fly to Santiago, Chile, for a game. The pilot made a mistake and crashed into the Andes mountains. While there were many survivors at first, the group was stuck on a glacier at almost 12,000 feet above sea level with very little food and no way to get help. Over the next 72 days, many people would die from their injuries and the cold. A few people, led by Parrado, would trek 45 miles over the frozen mountain for help. It’s a story of miracles and tragedy, but the most important thing is that people have the strength to keep going.
by Eric C. Anderson
On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. It took six hours to get there. When the Boeing 777 took off, air traffic control lost contact with the plane soon after it took off. It never came down. When it ran out of fuel seven hours later, we don’t know where it came to rest. I think it’s one of the most interesting plane mysteries of our time. In Eric C. Anderson’s “what if?” story about sabotaged planes, the what-if scenario is based on this event and a possible reason why it happened. It’s a story about international competition, corporate skulduggery, and organized crime, and it’s based on a true story. As a group, powerful people who don’t have a lot of morals and the people who work for them. A lot of people died on the train..
The Dangers of Automation in Airliners
by Jack J. Hersch
If you want to read real-life stories about people who are in a lot of trouble and are looking for a way out, this book by a commercial pilot who is also an instrument-rated pilot might be right for you. Flight disasters happen when plane technology and pilot behavior mix together. This book looks into how and why this happens and how to avoid it. He focuses on nine flight incidents and seven plane crashes that happened over the course of 10 years, and he spends a lot of time looking into what went wrong and how the pilots thought and did their jobs. While Hersch says that technology has made air travel better, he says that the ability for pilots to switch to “autopilot” and let technology run the plane makes it possible for pilots to lose focus and not be ready when they need to deal with a crisis. For people who like to read about what goes wrong in flight, Hersch makes them feel like they’re in the cockpit. This makes the book a good read for people who want to know what can go wrong.
by John J. Nance
Look no further than John J. Nance if you like thrillers about flying, and he is the author of many of them. Nance is an American pilot and expert on aviation safety. He served in the Air Force during Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. He’s known for his many best-selling thrillers that feature nail-biting air events of all kinds. One of the big Airbus 330s on its way from the Middle East disconnects all cockpit controls and turns around on its own. At first, the crew doesn’t notice anything. The flight displays still show them on their way to New York. Even though the flight has been electronically hijacked, they can’t do anything about it now. They are used as pawns in a hostage game that has a plan to start a nuclear war. If Capt. Jerry Tollefson and First Officer Dan Horneman lose control of the plane, they will risk everything to try to get it back.
Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival
by Laurence Gonzales
If you want to hear about the incredible story of another plane crash, read on! Rescue workers were waiting on the ground as United Airlines Flight 232 swam drunkenly over the hills north of Sioux City. The plane slammed into the runway and burst into flames. When the rescuers first arrived, they didn’t do anything because they thought that no one could have survived the crash. People started to come out of the field of summer corn that lined the roads. Only 184 out of 296 people who were on the plane were still alive. Interviews with hundreds of survivors, crew, and airport and rescue workers help Laurence Gonzales retell the story of what happened. He shows how pilots and flight attendants kept their cool as they flew a plane with no controls and stayed calm in the face of certain death.
Sully: My Search for What Really Matters
by Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III
You can find out the truth in this story about an accident that almost killed everyone but didn’t. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of birds as it was taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The plane lost all of its engine power. When the pilot did what he did next, it was a very impressive show of skill. Sully Sullenberger, the captain of the plane, made an emergency landing known in aviation terms as “ditching,” saving the lives of all 155 people on board. People all over the world have been inspired by him because of his cool-headed actions. Story: Sully’s is one of perseverance and hope. It shows the important lessons that he learned in his military service as well as as a pilot for a plane company.
The World’s Worst Aircraft
by Jim Winchester (Barnes & Noble Books)
People who have died in plane accidents are not the only ones who died in this book. This small-format coffee table book features 150 of the worst planes that have ever been made. They range from the Seddon Mayfly, which didn’t fly, to a flying tank that surprisingly worked. It gives a short history of each plane design, explaining why the idea didn’t work out well. Each type of plane is shown with annotated photos and artwork that show important flaws and unique design features. It’s a lot of fun to read about the weird flying machines that were made and tested at the beginning of aviation. Many of them will make you wonder how someone could make something that doesn’t work. Besides The World’s Worst Weapons, Barnes and Noble books also makes a series called “The World’s Worst Weapon.” This book is part of the series.