Twenty-five years after the catastrophe, a dramatic and extraordinarily rare 360-degree view of the crash of a fully loaded jumbo jet.
As hundreds of rescue workers waited on the ground, United Airlines Flight 232 wallowed drunkenly over the bluffs northwest of Sioux City. The plane slammed onto the runway and burst into a vast fireball. The rescuers didn't move at first: nobody could possibly survive that crash. And then people began emerging from the summer corn that lined the runways. Miraculously, 184 of 296 passengers lived.
No one has ever attempted the complete reconstruction of a crash of this magnitude. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, crew, and airport and rescue personnel, Laurence Gonzales, a commercial pilot himself, captures, minute by minute, the harrowing journey of pilots flying a plane with no controls and flight attendants keeping their calm in the face of certain death. He plumbs the hearts and minds of passengers as they pray, bargain with God, plot their strategies for survival, and sacrifice themselves to save others.
Ultimately he takes us, step by step, through the gripping scientific detective work in super-secret labs to dive into the heart of a flaw smaller than a grain of rice that shows what brought the aircraft down.
An unforgettable drama of the triumph of heroism over tragedy and human ingenuity over technological breakdown, Flight 232 is a masterpiece in the tradition of the greatest aviation stories ever told.
“Intense, gripping, alive with knowledge and compassion, Flight 232 is a new masterpiece of calamity and courage.” — Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb
“A kind of miracle. Gonzales combines meticulous research, intense and even agonizing drama, and a soaring intensity of emotion. Flight 232 leaves one feeling exalted, not depressed, at the end of a book about a grisly air crash that spares no details. The instances of heroism and self-sacrifice in the face of unimaginable horror are countless, and rendered with a spare dignity that rises above the macabre.” — Michael Korda, former RAF pilot, and author of Clouds of Glory: The Life of Robert E. Lee
Laurence Gonzales is the author of Surviving Survival and the bestseller Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. He has won two National Magazine Awards. His essays are collected in the book House of Pain.