Interview with Emilio Corsetti - Author of Scapegoat: A Flight Crew's Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption
Topics of conversation:
Being a pilot and flying
Writing investigative non-fiction
Factual vs. creative historical writing
What he learned from his research for Scapegoat
Self Publishing vs. Independent Publishing
Emilio Corsetti, III is a professional pilot and author. Emilio has written for both regional and national publications including the Chicago Tribune, Multimedia Producer, and Professional Pilot magazine. Emilio’s first book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980 tells the true story of an airline ditching in the Caribbean Sea and the efforts to rescue those who survived. Emilio is a graduate of St. Louis University. He and his wife Lynn reside in Dallas, TX.
"This is the kind of case the Board has never had to deal with-a head-on collision between the credibility of a flight crew versus the airworthiness of the aircraft." NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Leslie Dean Kampschror.
On April 4, 1979, a Boeing 727 with 82 passengers and a crew of 7 rolled over and plummeted from an altitude of 39,000 feet to within seconds of crashing were it not for the crew's actions to save the plane. The cause of the unexplained dive was the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations at that time.
While the crew's efforts to save TWA 841 were initially hailed as heroic, that all changed when safety inspectors found twenty-one minutes of the thirty-minute cockpit voice recorder tape blank. The captain of the flight, Harvey "Hoot" Gibson, subsequently came under suspicion for deliberately erasing the tape in an effort to hide incriminating evidence. The voice recorder was never evaluated for any deficiencies.
From that moment on, the investigation was focused on the crew to the exclusion of all other evidence. It was an investigation based on rumors, innuendos, and speculation. Eventually the NTSB, despite sworn testimony to the contrary, blamed the crew for the incident by having improperly manipulated the controls, leading to the dive.
This is the story of an NTSB investigation gone awry and one pilot's decades-long battle to clear his name.