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On May 2, 1970, a DC-9 jet with 57 passengers and a crew of six departed New York's JFK International Airport en route to the tropical island of St. Maarten. The flight ended four hours and 34 minutes later in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean. It was, and remains, the only open-water ditching of a commercial jet. The subsequent rescue of survivors took nearly three hours and involved the coast guard, navy, and marines. This gripping account of that fateful day recounts what was happening inside the cabin, the cockpit, and the helicopters as the crews struggled against the weather and dwindling daylight to rescue the survivors who have only their life vests and a lone escape chute to keep them afloat.
If you ever wanted a textbook example of Murphy’s Law in full effect this book is it! The sheer magnitude of combined miscalculations, misfortune and errors are astonishing. It led to the ditching of ALM Flight 980 into the Caribbean sea, just 35 miles short of its diverted destination. The only commercial airline to date to crash land in open waters.
Author Emilio Corsetti painstakingly details not only the facts leading up to the mishap, but also paints us a picture of aviation life in the early 70’s as well as anecdotal snippets of American history during that time.
Fred Filbrich did an excellent job narrating this true story which clocks in at just under 8 hours. His voice works perfectly for this genre and I found his reading entertaining and engaging.
This audiobook was gifted to me in exchange for an unbiased review!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I like to learn so I enjoy picking up nonfiction audiobooks from time to time. 35 Miles From Shore tells the true story of the “ditching and rescue of ALM Flight 980” along with the company and the pilots’ backstory leading up to that fateful day.
My best friend is really into planes — pretty much any kind of plane you can think of he likes from little prop planes to big fighter jets. So I picked this book up because I wanted to chat with him about it and maybe even recommend him a new book to listen to. I was right because 35 Miles From Shore was a really interesting, well researched, and incredibly told story.
You can tell that Emilio Corsetti III is a pilot too since there are details in this book that no normal human would know or understand. Thankfully Corsetti was able to write these things out in a way that a normal non-aviation person could understand.
Sure, if you’re not into planes (or scared of plane crashes) I would probably avoid this book. And obviously, if you’re not a non-fiction fan maybe steer clear. But, for a non-fiction book, there were parts of it that Corsetti was able to write like he was writing a fictional tale. Combine that with the overwhelming amount of knowledge that this book has — any aviation or airplane crash fans will find a gem in this story.
Corsetti weaves a tale full of detail, descriptions, and woe in the telling of the crash of ALM Flight 980.
The narration of 35 Miles From Shore was done by Fred Filbrich who I thought did a really nice job. He was able to walk me through a story with lots of detail and made it easy to listen to.
I received a free copy of this book. It has not affected my review of my opinion.
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2 of 2 people found this review helpful
As with his previous book “Scapegoat”, Emilio Corsetti III does it again with his new audiobook release titled “35 Miles from Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980”. In the book he tells a gripping, action packed, well researched story that is wonderfully narrated by Fred Filbrich. Portions of the story include re-enacted communications from various transcripts or interviews which brings it more to life. It would be difficult to write an action thriller as good as this book, and it is often hard to believe the events told occurred in real life as a piece of non-fiction. If you are one who enjoys stories around flight or airplanes, this is a must read/listen. If you are someone who likes documentaries of people surviving difficult situations along with the many complicated efforts involving search, rescue, and accident investigations, this is a must read for you too.
I am a certified private pilot (Cessna 172s) and have enjoyed books on flying most of my life. However, this story, as told by the author involves so much more than just another airplane or flying tale. It reveals the actual events that occurred in 1970 when a DC-9 jet aircraft was required to perform a water ditch (landing) due to fuel exhaustion. It is the only known event of its kind at the time of the book’s writing; sense then other ditching events have occurred but they are rare. Mr. Corsetti provides the reader with a first-class seat into what airlines, aircraft, and air travel, looked like back in the 1970s, and I can say it was very different from what it is today. Yet, in many ways it has not changed. It is amazing that this event was the largest and most involved search and rescue to have ever happened in the Caribbean Sea. It received assistance from the Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and a handful of local vessels.
The book opens by informing the reader about the concept of an “accident chain”. This idea claims that any type of accident (aviation or not) really is a chain of events that if only one can be prevented the accident most likely will be prevented. Mr. Corsetti walks the reader though all the various issues and events that led to the eventual accident. This involved mostly people and process errors, the machine itself did what it was expected to do when it ran out of fuel. He goes in detail about the flight events leading up to the disaster. Goes over the seconds just prior to the ditching and the events right after the crash viewed from different perspectives based on people’s testimonies.
I think what surprised me the most were the many errors and complications around the search and rescue portion. The lack of communication, and even when communication was established between rescuers, both often spoke to each other in what appeared to be different languages. We also learn of the struggles of the rescue gear such as the life jackets that for some this life saving gear may have caused more harm than good. The ability to hoist civilians up into a helicopter while swells of 30-40 feet were below and rain, low ceiling, and poor visibility above. It was amazing that anyone from the crash survived and that there were not causalities with the rescue teams themselves because many risked their own lives to save the others.
There are some good chapters covering the post-rescue events detailing the many injuries some of the passengers faced along with those that perished or were never found. Injuries were anywhere from a cut finger and bruises to broken backs and nearly everything in between. As one would expect from such a disaster, investigations and litigations quickly followed; as is usually the case. There are some good chapters later in the book about the survivors including the crew and what they are doing today along with the accident investigation findings.
Let me turn my attention from the story to the book’s narration by Fred Filbrich. Mr. Filbrich did an excellent job narrating the book and paced it well. I will note for those, like me, who like clean professionally edited audio, be aware that there are some slight audio artifacts such as volume consistency and swallowing in a few parts of the book. It was not throughout the entire book, but only in select areas. I would not let this prevent you from listening to the book in any way.
I am grateful to the author and narrator for bringing me this true-to-life story of disaster and survival. It was well worth my time and will have a lasting impact on me in the future.
Disclaimer: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
As I flew into SFO from PHX, I had a new perspective on air travel. I immediately found the life rafts. There were multiple and above the center aisle behind what looked like plastic attic doors. I kneeled and looked under my seat for the life vest. I turned off my audiobook as I listened intently for the instructions on how to inflate the life vest and made sure to get an aisle seat near the front cabin door. I wondered if my head would hit the tray table if I braced for impact. I now knew to wait to inflate my life vest until after I left the plane. I looked intently out the window as we passed over the bay and onto dry land in San Francisco. I could breathe again. This book will change how you travel, make you aware of your surroundings, and bring you one step closer to understanding what really makes for a safe airline and what doesn’t.
Emilio Corsetti III, in 35 Miles from Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980, starts with a strong hook, an airplane in the middle of the ocean that no one has come to investigate or pull out of the water because it’s a mile down. How did it get there? Why has it been down there so long? What happened? There are many directions Mr. Corsetti could have gone: a focus on the passengers’ point-of-view, the captain and flight crew’s, or the before and after on shore. He managed to weave all of the pieces together from the history of the airline itself, to the pilot’s backstory, the dramatic event, and the aftermath. While the general recommendation is to start in medias res, in the middle of the action, to create a dramatic beginning, the snapshot of the plane in the ocean was enough to propel a reader into the story and once there, he or she would not be disappointed with the narrative.
The premise is straightforward: Why did this tragedy happen? Emilio Corsetti III elevates the non-fiction genre to detective non-fiction where we learn everything about everyone in such a well articulated and compelling narrative that it doesn’t feel like we are in the classroom. Rather, we feel as if we are hearing the stories from multiple people as if we were the investigators ourselves. Corsetti III breathes life into technical jargon, complex procedural pieces, and turns what the mechanic sees into a vivid graphic through artful word choice and plain language.
The tower dialogues gave the audiobook an authentic theatrical feel more script-like than book. The explanations were so clear such that any bit of minutia or jargon found an explanation. From explaining tunnel vision as cognitive narrowing to the rationales for certain pilot altitude and airspeed choices, throughout the book I felt as if I had a mentor, a coach, teaching me about being a pilot. This is truly a book for anyone, it respects the jargon and speaks to the aviation enthusiast, but it speaks to us on a human level. What is it like to go through such an ordeal? How does a communication breakdown lead to a life-altering mistake? How do different people respond?
Because we are so invested in each character, know they are real; the last half of the book creates a satisfying closure to every thread of the story. It’s a rare author who can teach from the narrative rostrum with such detail as to both educate the reader and leave him looking around and appreciating the humanity in the giant machine of an airplane we take for granted. The irony of hell in a Caribbean paradise will not be lost on any of the readers. Is it worth reading? It’s worth listening right now.
Fred Filbrich, the narrator, does a wonderful job with both the narrative and the dialogue. The book was more than an easy listen; it was one that I tried to fit in the spaces of time at the grocery store and on the way to and from work. Filbrich continue to press page-turning narrative with subtle elevations of his voice, empathetic caresses towards a tragedy, and the straightforward talk as if I was the only person in the room. It is the work of a consummate professional.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
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9 of 12 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
This is a very good book. It's fast paced and well written. I enjoy listening and watching shows about airline crashes and disasters, not for the crash itself, but for the cause of the accident and eventual fixes for the cause. As for this accident, it happened before I was born, so this is one that I haven't heard of before. The author did a great job outlining the issues and events that lead up to the accident, the people involved in both the accident and rescue. The narrator did a great job.<br/><br/>I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a true life account of a ditched aircraft in a turbulent sea; which includes the chain of events that led up to the ditching, the flight crew's heroic actions when the plan was ditched, the rescue operation and the fallout after the accident.
Without being too much of a spoiler, what dismayed me was that the crew member who died in the ditching was honored as a hero, whereas the surviving crew were somewhat vilified, blamed and held more accountable than the higher ups that should of been held more accountable.
It is an interesting account and I felt for the crew who got scapegoated while the administration skated.
The administration decided to fly the routes before the extra fuel tanks could be installed on the planes. The crew received inadequate safety training for a ditching situation. The crew did not cause the fuel gauges to malfunction. And there were a whole bunch of other contributing factors to the mishap that were caused by executive decisions, not crew decisions.
Even though this is not a true crime story, true crime buffs would probably like this book. The narration was professionally preformed. It was clear and sharp and well enunciated.
I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
35 Miles From SHore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980
: Emilio Corsetti III
A detailed tale of the ditching and rescue of a commercial airliner in the ocean. The listener is introduced to the people on board and the ones sent to help rescue them. I was twelve years old when this happened and no matter how hard I try I can't remember it happening. I like historical recounting of events.
The narration was well done. The characters were well portrayed by Fred Filbrich.
“I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, great narration and the book kept me glued till the end. I loved it!
What did you like best about this story?
A compelling story which captured my fascination in air travel.
What does Fred Filbrich bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Strong, powerful narration
Any additional comments?
This review copy audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost."<br/>
0 of 1 people found this review helpful
A fascinating read. Fast paced and well written it was very enjoyable.
The narration was well done. Great performance.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful