This moment-by-moment account of a major airplane crash on a beautiful and treacherous mountainside puts the reader at the pilot's side, describing the flight, its catastrophic ending, and the aftermath.
At 7:05 a.m. on February 19, 1955, TWA Flight 260 took off from the Albuquerque airport for a short flight to Santa Fe. To avoid flying over the Sandia Mountains, the plane's approved air route was a dogleg running north-northwest from Albuquerque, then east-northeast into Santa Fe. But at 7:08 a.m. Flight 260 was headed directly toward Sandia Ridge, almost entirely obscured by storm clouds. A local resident who saw Flight 260 overhead observed that if the plane was eastbound, it was too low; if it was northbound, it was off course.
At 7:12 a.m. the plane's terrain-warning bell sounded its alarm. Both pilots saw the sheer west face of the Sandias just beyond the right wingtip--an appalling shock considering they should have been ten miles further west. Reacting instantly, they rolled the plane steeply to the left, pulled its nose up, and started to level the wings. It was their final act. Hidden by the storm, another cliffside lay directly ahead. When they struck it, they were still in a left bank, nose high.
Charles Williams was one of the first men on the scene of this horrific crash. His unraveling of TWA Flight 260's final flight is a tale of days, minutes, and seconds spread out over the span of half a century. His book resolves some of the controversies surrounding the crash, including the Civil Aeronautics Board's over-swift determination that the pilots were at fault.
If you're an aviation buff expecting a detailed breakdown of the crash and why it happened, you'll likely be disappointed. If you're expecting a true story about a plane crash and the often overlooked human drama that comes with a tragedy like that, then this book is for you.
You have to take the good with the bad. The author was uniquely involved in the recovery efforts of a plane crash. His story is remarkable. But at times, his story telling method can frustrate. For example, he reads email exchanges, sometimes verbatim, to discuss how the crash came back into his life 50 years later.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasnt what I was expecting based on the title, but it was also unlike anything else I've ever seen or read.
Well written with excellent detail and a style that held my interest. Will likely purchase the paperback as well. The chapters toward the end became a bit tedious and repetitive, so it could have been condensed a bit. The narration was excellent: clear, pleasant and performed with precise, empathetic inflection. Well done.
This book got my attention from the start - description of the plane, the topography, commercial aviation at that time, the passengers - the scene was very well set. Then the accident, the effects on family, the search parties and the investigation - all very interesting. But it got too complicated - without diagrams and maps I couldn't visualise the mountain and the flight path or the search area.I suggest readers who, like me, can't develop and hold a mental map of an area of which they know nothing get a map or diagram before starting so they can follow what is happening. It should then prove to be a satisfying read.