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Scapegoat Audiobook

Scapegoat: A Flight Crew's Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption

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Publisher's Summary

"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 seven 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 21 minutes of the 30-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.

©2016 Emilio Corsetti III (P)2016 Emilio Corsetti III

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Performance


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  • Steve H. Caldwell
    Tacoma, WA
    20/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unbelievable what they had to deal with."

    An amazing true story, where the preconceived outcome was pushed over the actual provable facts, so typical of government bureaucrats. Damn the consequences to these men's lives, careers and reputations, because at no time was Boeing and their stooges in the government ever going to let them take any of the heat for this. Having spent years in Aviation myself, The narrative of pilot error over mechanical failure seems to be the first thing pushed, as it was in this case. Amazing detail really sell this books point. The narration by Fred Filbrich is very technical and understandable, if not particularly dynamic. Still very listenable, just don't go in expecting Luke Daniels or Michael Kramer.

    I was given a copy of this book free of charge by the Author in exchange for an honest review through Audiobook Boom.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • AudioBook Reviewer
    Madison, WI, United States
    15/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "pits large faceless entitles against a small group"

    I just flew from Minneapolis to Atlanta to Dublin and hearing an airline story immediately piqued my interest. I think it’s important to NOT Google what happened to fully enjoy the book as the author is considerate enough to give detailed stories within the major body. Like a good action movie, something big happens by the 18-minute mark. At first, the writing is crisp and tight, the author writes enough so the reader can get invested, but not too much time to get lost in minutia. While the setting is an airplane, what the book really provides is a “you decide” book that is detailed enough for someone to take notes is if they so chose. You will hear the story of the incident in carefully outlined detail, then many different points of view, but ultimately that of the defense of the pilot Captain “Hoot” Gibson.

    What makes the story compelling is that in 1979, there was no Google or the social media platforms and videos that might have added evidence one way or the other. The book mentions this connection, but think about research through real newspapers, microfilm, and finding people. As a member of Generation X living in the Washington DC suburbs, my first plane tragedy memory came from Air Florida Flight 90, a plane that hit the 14th Street Bridge in bad weather. This flight, however, was not an icy mess from takeoff, rather, an opportunity for a pilot to and crew to be at their finest. As we look to a future with self-driving cars, one wonders if a computer could have done what this pilot did.

    Dialogue is an important part of most audiobooks. For this book to succeed, we need different voices. There are some tower-to-airport, airport-to-tower dialogues that give it a cinematic feel, but overall it is a straightforward narrative. How does the book treat its primary and secondary audience? The primary audience, the aviation industry might be very happy with the level of detail and that even those experts may learn something. The secondary audience, the general public will find that there’s explication to help them get through some parts, but like in a jury trial, detailed diagrams, images, and video would make the concepts more concrete. There is a universal component, however, that all readers can tie to, and that is the feeling of being in the minority and the microaggressions that can go along with that.

    Where I feel the book succeeds is creating this feeling of emptiness for “Hoot,” the pilot. He feels he excelled under adversity and instead gets ostracized. In the classic “show, don’t tell” fashion we feel for him as stewardesses refuse to fly with him, a training evaluator makes his life more difficult, as do some of the investigators. He loses his circle of friends when things go sour. It’s a story of a hero who becomes an outcast. Much of the book is a defense of Hoot, the pilot, but it makes a tremendous social statement and provides a lesson in empathy. It pits large faceless entitles against a small group, even a single man.

    The majority of the book contrasts the strong first few hours. Around two-and-a-half hours, the book goes back to Hoot’s childhood, how he got into flying, and so on. While most audiobook listeners shun an abridged volume, I believe a tighter version, that kept the tension going would have succeeded better than this eleven hour offering. It’s a good detailed and well researched book, but we go from sympathetic and engaged juror, to someone who is watching the clock with inordinate amounts of time used to prove and defend the pilot. For example, the author dedicates almost half-an-hour to the timing of picking up meal trays. While this time stamp is important for a jury trial and to set the record straight, the story loses its steam proving and beating a dead horse with detail than focusing on the central theme, an innocent crew ends up being the victim of groupthink and bias stemming from perceived guilt, largely a function of an erased flight tape.

    Is it worth a read? Yes, I think so, but in the end I would retract my statement to not Google, rather, I would Google the images that could help me understand flaps, aircraft schematics and maneuvers.

    Narrator Review

    The narrator, Fred Filbrich, provides a well-read account. I didn’t notice the narrator as his voice was a warm background until the book switched from primary narrator to tower to flight and flight to tower dialogue. It’s an easy listen and I found myself moving through hours of the book without noticing time going by. Except for conversations between the cockpit and the tower, the book mostly lacks dialogue that would have made the narrator’s job a bit easier. Overall, however, the narrator made a highly technical volume pleasurable.

    Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

    Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    01/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An interesting revisit"
    Would you try another book from Emilio Corsetti III and/or Fred Filbrich?

    I'm not sure...


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Well it sure took a long time to get there, and by the time it did, I don't know that I recognized it.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Fred Filbrich?

    Fred has a great voice, and an equally great style, but sometimes there was something going on there that was really distracting. There was a great deal of mouth noise, or the sound of crumpling page turning, or something that would show up at the end of a passage. It really got to me. Then the sound would completely disappear for a chapter or two of great audio, and then come back again. There were times when I thought I was listening to the audio portion of a stellar documentary from National Geographic, recorded and edited in one of the best professional studios available, by a top notch narrator, with a highly talented team of audio professionals behind him. And sometimes I was driven to distraction by all those extra sounds.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I don't know. It could be turned into a script, but not if it stretched on as long as this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ms. Christian C.
    North Carolina, USA
    13/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who is to blame when a plane almost crashes?"

    "Scapegoat" begins with a play-by-play accounting of Transworld Airlines flight 841, which departed New York's JFK airport on Thursday, April 4, 1979. At 8:25pm, the nearly 14-year-old Boeing 727-100 aircraft lifted off with 82 passengers and 7 crew, heading to its destination in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Towards the end of the in-flight meal service, a series of events takes place that lead to TWA-841 just narrowly escaping a crash. In the months and years that follow, that series of events will be questioned and hotly contested by investigators, the media, passengers and flight crew, and by the world at large. But the one person who was most adversly affected by the investigations following TWA-841's near crash is the one person responsible for delivering all 89 persons aboard safely to the ground, Captain Harvey "Hoot" Gibson.

    As I have traveled a lot by plane and have several family members employed by the airline industry, I found "Scapegoat" intriguing. I caution the casual reader about extensive investigative testimony included in the book, along with a lot of technical jargon relating to airplane parts and functions. I believe those with more than just a passing interest in commercial airplanes and flight will find this story to be incredibly engrossing. The content is well sculpted and superbly narrated, which, for me, increased its digestibility.

    (I was provided a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for my unbiased review. Many thanks to the author for this opportunity!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J. Warren Benton
    Elizabeth city
    30/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sometimes planes fall from the sky"
    If you could sum up Scapegoat in three words, what would they be?

    whole Crew blamed


    What other book might you compare Scapegoat to and why?

    Scully


    Which character – as performed by Fred Filbrich – was your favorite?

    Hoot


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I learned a lot of planes, structures, and working components.


    Any additional comments?

    overall interesting read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Barry C Bryant
    20/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not a Conspiracy Theory, Just Fact."
    What did you love best about Scapegoat?

    Interesting behind the scenes take on what really happened. This all sounds plausible. After all you don't want to scare the general public.


    Any additional comments?

    “I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daman
    16/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Captivating and Thought Provoking"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Scapegoat?

    Just seeing how much of a burden the flight crew had to endure. It really made me feel for their situation.


    Have you listened to any of Fred Filbrich’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He did a good job in telling this story. He brought the characters together and made it an interesting listen.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Sadness mixed with strong empathy.


    Any additional comments?

    "I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John Arnott
    San Francisco, CA -- USA
    14/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The dangers in looking for proof, not causes."
    What other book might you compare Scapegoat to and why?

    "The Control of Nature" by John McPhee describes several attempts to control nature. The efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to channel the Mississippi with levees and such is shown as an example of single-mindedness in how they have not been able to fully succeed. In "Scapegoat", we see another government entity, the NTSB, latch onto a theory for the cause of a near-fatal aviation incident and end up doing metaphorical back flips attempting to justify the theory rather than examine all evidence with an open mind. While the flood-control projects would be impossible to abandon now, the insistence on a finding of crew error in the near crash was correctable and in itself left the true cause unaddressed and still presenting danger to future flights.


    Any additional comments?

    Even though the plane came within seconds of crashing, economic forces rushed it through repairs and back into service, thereby losing the opportunity for a complete failure analysis. This misstep was compounded by the early assumption that the crew had done something to precipitate the incident and the dogged refusal of the investigating team to question that assumption. The title of the book, Scapegoat, and its relation of the toll those accusations had on the pilot may seem the main theme, but I found the subtext more important: money (get that plane back in the air) and politics (positioning by the investigators) trumped the need for finding the truth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin S.
    30/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boys and Girls can we say "Rush To Judgement?"

    I have a professional background in military aviation. From the onset of the safe emergency landing and aircraft evacuation on, I could not believe the plethora of errors and borderline lack of professionalism in the aftermath and investigation of this accident/incident. I can only hope and pray that lessons learned from this have been incorporated into the processes of future investigations. But then, I have my doubts.

    It would seem that once the NTSB lead investigator had his 'evidence' to convict the crew, his attitude became "don't confuse me with facts!"

    Although reasonably explained, the material is extremely detailed in a number of places. basic understanding of aviation and flying would be most helpful.

    Narrator did an excellent job. 'Replay' of flight crew/Air Traffic Control radio dialogue from incident excellently engineered to sound almost like a recording of the conversation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Susan Patterson
    28/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A little too technical for me."
    What did you love best about Scapegoat?

    The beginning was good but near the middle it was just too many facts.


    If you’ve listened to books by Emilio Corsetti III before, how does this one compare?

    N/A


    What does Fred Filbrich bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He has a good knowledge of the direction of the story so his emphasis on words was very good.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I hate when the media just make things up if they can't bet the facts.


    Any additional comments?

    "I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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