Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson by William Langewiesche
You really gotta love this: a plane crashed, and everyone survived. And we even got to watch it on TV and the Internet, repeated over and over and over. And Sullenberger finessed that water landing every doggone time!
OK. So let’s be serious. Geese and an airplane collided, and that is nothing but bad.
Langewiesche, who doesn’t waste a single word (thank you, universe, for such writers), tells the story of the four minutes between collision and landing. When I got to the part where the man seated next to a mom with a baby offered to brace the baby during the impact, oh, I liked that part. Told with as few words as possible, and without drama-ing it all up. I detest “heartwarming,” and this was the only moment that veered close—but he pulled back just in time, and the book was saved.
But most of the focus here in on the pilots and the aircraft—what the pilots did right, and what the aircraft designers did right.
I love books where things turn out well because people have done good work. Life ain’t always like that, and damn, it’s refreshing to read something non-treacly that still comes out right in the end.
This book is not very long. And if you decided to skip all of the mini-stories it contains, about other pilots who totally screwed things up, then it’s even shorter. If you wanted to read a novella-length nonfiction account of an event that was almost tragic, here’s a darn good bet.
Pair it with Down around Midnight, and you can have yourself an survival-of-a-plane-crash reading spree. Tempting, eh?