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

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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 decade-long battle to clear his name.

472 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2016

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About the author

Emilio Corsetti III

2 books50 followers
Emilio Corsetti III is a professional pilot and author. His work has appeared in both regional and national publications including the Chicago Tribune, Multimedia Producer, and Professional Pilot magazine. Emilio is a graduate of St. Louis University. For more information about the author, please visit the author's web site at www.EmilioCorsetti.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews
Profile Image for AudioBookReviewer.
949 reviews162 followers
August 15, 2016
My original Scapegoat audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

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.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,138 reviews188 followers
July 27, 2016
Ok first off, this type of book is right up my alley. As many know I am an avid fan of aviation. I enjoy reading stories of aircraft. I am not familiar with the incident of the Boeing 727 and April 4, 1979. Although, this did event did transpire before I was born. What I did like about this book was that while I know about flying as I have taken flying lessons, I was not familiar with TSA or all of the red tape that Captain Hoot and his flight crew had to endure after the incident. It is amazing that anyone really stayed as calm as they did with all of the lies and numerous interviews.

Mr. Corsetti really did do his research. It showed within the pages of this book with all of the details. I do agree with another reader that I wavered on this book as on one hand I really liked it but at times it did seem to repeat itself and grow a little cumbersome. Yet my intrigue about finding out the truth and reading a book that is on one of my favorite topics won out and I could endure the repetitiveness.
1 review
June 6, 2016

Readers looking for other books on this topic will find “Scapegoat” a most interesting and significant work. It’s about TWA Flight 841 in 1979. It tells the story from loss of control at a cruise altitude of 39,000 feet through the subsequent 2 year investigation. The recovery from the ensuing steep dive barely avoided a catastrophe and there were no fatalities. But, that was just the beginning of a two year story for those involved. The very well documented and researched text looks not only at the technical aspects of the investigation but also reveals the personal aspects and the toll it took upon Captain Hoot Gibson, his cockpit and cabin crew as well as passengers.

I was an investigator on this accident. The book is in the final draft stage now and I have had the opportunity to review the most recent version. Effective accident / incident investigation is critical for flight safety. For the casual reader this book goes beyond the headlines and provides a real world view of the complexities of the formal accident investigation process. For the aviation professional it shows how complex a process accident investigation can be as well as the various factors that can influence the direction of, conclusions from and recommendations generated by an investigation.
Profile Image for Christine Negroni.
Author 5 books12 followers
July 13, 2018
Emilio Corsetti's new book challenges the finding of pilot error in what was until the Miracle on the Hudson flight, one of the country's most famous near-disasters. It is an eye-opening read, told in a compelling and easy-to-follow manner.

http://christinenegroni.com/new-book-...
Profile Image for Edwin Howard.
378 reviews14 followers
July 19, 2016
SCAPEGOAT by Emilio Corsetti III starts the book by recounting the incident of TWA flight 841 in 1979 of the passenger plane that almost crashes from a uncontrollable dive but the captain, "Hoot" Gibson, and his flight crew manage to regain control and narrowly avoid utter catastrophe. After the incident, so many theories, findings, queries, mistakes and lawsuits were filed and SCAPEGOAT consolidates that mountain of information into a study of what went right and what went wrong in the post-incident analysis of TWA flight 841.
Being 40, I'm too young to remember this happening or the aftermath of it, but I wish I was, it's such a fascinating event to look at. The author really studies all of the people involved, from who they are personally to their professional education and backgroundl. It's quite clear that the author disagrees with a vast majority of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) findings, but still does an admirable job of looking at each part of the incident analysis from several angles. The book also challenges us as the reader to consider that investigations like this one can be skewed by a single misrepresentation and that misrepresentation, even after realized and reconsidered, can forever haunt and alter the perceived reality of what happened. I should make note that the author does a good job of explaining the technical analysis of the plane in question and the protocols and maneuvers used, but I also think that having a father who worked for 30 years as a system analyst for a major airline helped me understand certain things in the book I might have struggled with otherwise.
I think most anyone would enjoy SCAPEGOAT, but especially those interested in commercial airline history and anyone aware of the TWA 841 incident and wants to learn more about it. One of the ways I think a nonfiction book is good or not is whether I want to read more about the subject matter or not and for what it's worth, I have been struck with the desire to look something book related a couple times a day since I started reading SCAPEGOAT.
Thank you to Odyssey Publishing, Emilio Corsetti III, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Beth.
198 reviews28 followers
August 3, 2016
Scapegoat by Emilio Corsetti III is a fact filled examination of the Flight of TWA 841 and the following investigation. On April 4, 1979, a TWA piloted by Captain Harvey ”Hoot’ Gibson with First Officer Scott Kennedy and Flight Engineer Gary Banks depart from JKF in a Boeing 727-100 that was 14 years old. With 82 passengers and 7 crewmen, they experience a rollover and a fall from 39,000 feet. With the crews’ best efforts, they avoid crashing and are able to land. With a severely damaged plane, the investigation into what happened to cause the near fatal accident begins. At first the crew and particularly the pilot “Hoot” are hailed as heroes but soon the in cockpit recorder shows a 21-minute missing segment. The pilot is accused of erasing the tape in order to cover-up evidence. The crew is immediately accused of causing the almost accident due to improperly used the controls.

With an almost one-sided narrow-minded investigation, the NTSB ruins the reputation of the crew. This is a very technical book based on records, personal interviews, and the author’s own knowledge of flying. For the everyday reader, this goes into a lot of technical information way beyond my knowledge.
What I did enjoy was the description of how the investigation affected the primary individuals involved. It does show though how an investigation with a false predetermined cause can affect the entire investigation.

This is not a light enjoyable read. For the person interested in the history of flight, the NTSB, or are pilots themselves, they would find it fascinating. I am none of the above, but must give the author credit for a well-investigated book.

I was provided with a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
July 28, 2016
As a paying passenger in seat #21A on Captain Gibson’s/First Officer Kennedy’s death-defying April 4, 1979 TWA Flight #841, I received an advance review copy (Spring 2016) from the author, Emilio Corsetti.

The very day I received the book I began reading it, and couldn’t put it down — except company just arrived from out of state, and after ignoring them for about an hour, I mustered enough fortitude to set this gripping narrative aside and engage with our company.

During a recent business trip I was finally able to complete my entire read — again, cringing when I had to temporarily put this true-life story back into my briefcase when other meeting agenda items forced me to do so.

“Scapegoat” allowed me to relive that tempestuous night once again (with thanks in my heart to the Lord — and to Hoot, Scott and Gary — for me still being alive), and then walk through the years of Hoot’s pain through all his attempts to clear the flight crew members’ names.

Corsetti does an outstanding journalistic job of not only collecting every possible piece of data and evidence from all possible sources available, including photos and supporting graphics/illustrations, but also puts forth a class one job of organizing and writing it up. The author clearly unpacks several years of his investigative efforts and produces a solid, well-researched book about our TWA Flight 841 which I survived along with all passengers and crew that night. I pray that Corsetti’s “Scapegoat” will re-launch official efforts to clear Hoot, Scott and Gary from what I believe the evidence shows to be an erroneous NTSB conclusion.
Profile Image for Kayla.
383 reviews12 followers
June 23, 2022
Investigations are real life mysteries being solved (hopefully), and this one involved an airplane, so I was hooked pretty quickly. (See my recent plane-themed books...) This story has elements of "Twelve Angry Men," where the verdict was assumed and declared long before the truth was discovered. As with "Empire of Pain," though, innocent people are hurt in the process and not everything ends Disney clean in real life.
914 reviews
September 16, 2019
When in doubt, blame the pilot. The agencies charged with the protection of the public took the easy way out. When a plane nearly crashes, but doesn't, and all passengers survive, the captain and crew are denigrated for years. A vindictive reporter that can't get an interview makes up a story. Jealous pilots pile on, tests of the aircraft are a joke, and friends abandon the crew members. This story has a lot of verbiage about the mechanical workings of planes, but the real story is the affect on the crew. It took decades for the truth to come out - the plane was faulty. I was gifted this from the Audiobookworm for my honest review.
Profile Image for Ian Duncan.
22 reviews
October 31, 2019
a very interesting and detailed look into a unique accident. Much to learn here about flying an airliner as well as the workings of the FAA and NTSB in an accident investigation. Too often we say "that couldnt happen today" and yet we are watching it unfold in the media almost every night. Pilots would do well to observe many of the warnings illustrated in this book.
Profile Image for Vicky Hunt.
823 reviews53 followers
February 4, 2018
A Technical Exposé of one of the Biggest Malfunction Cover-ups in History

Scapegoat details a near fatal dive that was salvaged by the pilot in a heroic maneuver in 1979. At first he is hailed as a hero, but things get rough when he is skewered in the media in an attempt to divert attention away from the possibility of a part malfunction with the Boeing.

Unlike anything else I’ve read, Corsetti delivers this project on an investigative timeline, instead of chronologically. By that I mean that he starts with what is happening in the cockpit, until the crash. Then he backtracks to the passengers’ experience. Then he moves through the stages of investigation in the order that they revealed the sequence of events. This allows you to learn what happened with the passengers and on the body of the plane the same way ‘Hoot’ and the crew would have known. You are not given any prescient knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes. This causes the reader to experience the event from the pilot’s seat.

The book has some pretty glum moments and is not easy to read all in one setting because of the life-shattering effects the whole fiasco has on the career and personal life of the pilot. It gets pretty grim, and things go from bad to worse, before they get better. But, through it all, the pilot, ‘Hoot’ keeps battling and begins new income projects in Costa Rica that help with both his mind set and his financial state. It is definitely a story of overcoming the odds. I recommend this book for anyone who flies, as it is quite revealing on aspects of the industry. I requested and received the Audible version free for review purposes.
171 reviews
July 18, 2016
I should first say that I received this book as an ARC.

I am a lover of non-fiction work and crave to read something that is puzzling and a mystery. This book did not disappoint. The story of Hoot and his crew aboard an aircraft during a horrible event left the reader puzzled, angry, and sympathetic to all those involved.

As the author described the after events of this occurrence, I was left wondering how the conclusions by the NTSB, FAA, court systems and general public could have been made. The generalizations without relying on the facts are astounding. As a lay person with no technical aeronautical knowledge, I can see how certain facts were ignored or misinterpreted.

As a reader I was left with a great deal of sympathy for the flight crew of this plane. Their lives were changed in a way that can never be taken back. The author did a great job balancing his description of the human-side of the story along with the technical side. With that said, it is clear to the reader that the author is biased in judgement. Clearly, the author believes the side of the flight crew and aims to discredit all investigations. I somewhat expected this account to be more objective.

Overall, it was a great read and well written. At time, it became very technical but it would be impossible to tell this story and not be. Diagrams and pictures were included to help the inexperienced reader follow along with the facts; for this I am grateful.
Profile Image for Kelly Knapp.
934 reviews17 followers
June 10, 2016
This story illustrates the exact reason more and more people refuse to speak with authorities without adequate representation.

When an airliner unexpectedly drops nearly 30,000 feet without warning or obvious reason, the crew must first fight to regain control of the aircraft and then fight again to regain their good names when the investigation into the incident is mishandled from day one by the authorities.

While transparencies are highly regarded by the public, it is important to remember that they do not have the technical expertise to understand much of the jargon used by the industry and so, when the hearings were publicized, the people grabbed onto meanings for words from the vernacular, which twisted the nature of the perceived circumstances.

The very "cover-up" that the authorities were trying to avoid became the center of attention when the reporters and other non-industry individuals were allowed open access to hearings that had in the past been private. Suddenly, the crew was telling its story in front of cameras and misunderstandings abounded. This is the story of how things went haywire, what happened after, and the fight to regain the crew's good names.
Profile Image for Yibbie.
1,091 reviews43 followers
July 22, 2016
It’s really hard for me to rate this book. I was alternately very interested and very bored. It moved incredibly quickly and drug on forever. At one point I was ready to quit, it had gotten so repetitive; then it got intriguing again and I finished it and was frustrated with the ending. Though the author couldn’t help that, it was frustration at the government’s handling of the case.
Corsetti did an excellent job presenting his case. I’d say, after reading it, I lean towards his understanding of events, but then I’m not even an amateur in things aeronautical. Most of the book was wading through court cases. That’s where I bogged down. It got very repetitive. I will admit that the umpteenth time the same evidence was gone over I started skimming. He did a very good job at explaining the technical terms and the role played by the different parts n question.
It’s an interesting glimpse at the inner workings of the NTSB. It has made me understand a bit more just how uncertain definite conclusions can be.
There were a couple of things that could have been skipped. One was mild curse word and the other was an inappropriate innuendo
Thanks to NetGalley and Odyssey Publishing LLC for the chance to read this book for free and review it.
Profile Image for Bonnye Reed.
4,088 reviews69 followers
September 23, 2016
GNA I received a free electronic copy of this fine history by Emilio Corsetti III, Netgalley, and Odyssey Publishing LLC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your work with me.

This work is an excellent overview of the many years of turmoil surrounding the near-accident involving a Boeing 727, TWA 841, on April 4, 1979. While the fast actions of the crew of this plane saved the lives of the 82 passengers and 7 crew aboard, the NTSB pins the fault of the near fatal accident on actions of the crew, using falsified data provided by Boeing and an obvious bias against Captain 'Hoot' Gibson in order to assure the traveling public that they are safe in the skies. Sadly, it took more tragic accidents to clear the reputations of the crew of TWA 841.

Pub date Aug 1, 2016
NOt able to review on B&N
Profile Image for Colin.
5 reviews
June 13, 2016
This book could fall into many genres which makes it difficult to categorize. The author does a great job of getting the reader inside the minds of the people involved. There is drama and emotion. There is a lot of technical aviation, but the author does a good job of explaining the jargon as you go.

I was in High School when this near accident occurred and reading the book stirred faint memories of seeing it in the news. As the years go by and more plane accidents are brought into the story, those faint memories kept coming. The tale of TWA 841 and Capt. Hoot Gibson threads through the history of modern aviation.

The book is well researched and well written.
416 reviews
May 9, 2016
Thanks to Netgalley and Odyssey Publishing for the Advance Reader Copy of this book. This book was good, but didn't live up to my expectations. I think it was too long and too technical (or maybe just too repetitive about certain technical aspects) for many readers to tolerate. Interesting story though showing the way NOT to conduct an investigation by the NTSB and hopefully the incidents described here have resulted in sustained improvements there in the last 30 years.
Profile Image for Peggy.
2,212 reviews37 followers
August 7, 2016
**SPOILER FREE**


This is a great read! I really enjoyed this book! The information that it tells, just floored me! The background just amazes me. This is a must read! And if you enjoy books about and with aircraft you will love this one!


*Received for an honest review*
2 reviews4 followers
December 31, 2016
A very interesting look at an infamous airline incident. I lost a fair amount of respect for the NTSB.
Profile Image for Fred M.
210 reviews
July 4, 2019
Many aircraft investigations only have the FDR, CVR, bodies and aircraft debris available for investigation into the cause(s) of an aircraft accident. In some lucky cases (e.g., Sully’s “Miracle on the Hudson”), investigator’s also have a live crew, surviving passengers and an intact (though wet) aircraft. And TWA 841 was an even luckier case as there was no accident and the plane landed safely.

So why was it so hard to investigate this incident? The incident occurred over 40 years ago, so the FDR’s capability was limited to the recording of only a few parameters such as altitude and vertical acceleration. More importantly, the CVR recording was apparently manually erased by the flight’s captain after the landing. And because of the manual CVR erasure, much of the crew testimony was viewed with suspicion by most of the investigators. Although not stated explicitly stated, apparently none of the passengers were pilots themselves, so passenger interviews were limited in scope (and also a bit contradictory). As for the airplane itself, it was repaired and put back in service; so only a few broken pieces of the plane and the initial record of aircraft damage & repair remained available for the two-year-long investigation of this aircraft incident.

So, with such limited information, the investigation was mostly limited to speculations about possible cause(s) for the aircraft’s dive and then comparing how well that scenario corresponded to the information that the investigators did have available. The problem with speculation was that Boeing participants had an innate bias toward protection of the 727’s reputation, TWA participants had an innate bias toward protection of TWA’s maintenance and operational procedures and ALPA participants had an innate bias toward protection of the flight crew’s reputation. But the manual erasure of the CVR had already damaged the flight crew’s reputation. Ultimately, the NTSB ruled crew error caused the dive.

So why two stars? Partially because, though the book contained lots of information, some was interesting and some was nearly sleep-inducing. But mainly because the book is called “Scapegoat”, and so its primary focus was to show why the NTSB got it wrong. At times, it felt as if I was reading the transcript from a trial, but mostly just of the defense’s portion of the arguments and just of the defense’s cross-examinations. For example, the book accuses Boeing of speculating that the crew performed non-standard flap/slat activations without any supporting evidence – yet the book then speculated that airplane’s CVR equipment may have been faulty (also without any supporting evidence). Also, the book argued that they could not find any airline pilot who would testify that they themselves either performed such a control activation or saw another pilot perform it – yet the book did not say whether or not other pilots had HEARD about such a control activation. I just kept feeling that the book was intentionally arguing only half possibilities.

Final thought: I was surprised just how much the book sounded like the proceedings of a trial instead of an investigation.
Profile Image for Reader Views.
2,111 reviews72 followers
October 7, 2016
Reviewed by David K. McDonnell for Reader Views (10/16)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption’ by Emilio Corsetti, III on Blogcritics.

“Scapegoat” by Emilio Corsetti III, tells the story of a Boeing 727 known in aviation circles and media accounts as “the plane that fell from the sky.” In 1979 while 39,000 feet over Michigan, flying from New York to Minneapolis, TWA Flight 841 went into an uncontrollable spiral and 360° rollover. The plane nose-dived to near ground level before the pilot regained control and completed an emergency landing in Detroit. The opening chapters are riveting as a re-creation of the vertical descent, through the eyes of the passengers and crew.

What would cause an airplane at its cruising altitude to suddenly drop from the sky? That is precisely the question Corsetti seeks to answer. The book is meticulously researched, with critical reviews of crew and passenger statements and depositions, Boeing and TWA tests, the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, and numerous expert evaluations. One would think it would be a relatively easy question to answer – particularly since the plane did not crash. But therein lays the rub. Mechanics began repairs within hours after the plane landed, and had it back in service within weeks. As Corsetti explained:

“Ironically, had the plane crashed in … Michigan, the bits and pieces would have been taken to a hangar, rearranged, and placed where each part was located on the plane, and then examined with a fine-tooth comb. In this instance, they had a mostly intact aircraft. Few accident investigations are so lucky. But any opportunity to preserve that valuable evidence was lost as soon as mechanics began repairs. ... Had the aircraft been the scene of a crime, these actions would have been equivalent to destroying evidence. But no one … objected. As a result, evidence that would have been extremely helpful to investigators was replaced, repaired, and/or destroyed.”

Investigators were left with imperfect Boeing simulators and tests on other similar aircraft to determine whether mechanical failure was the cause. In addition, when they couldn’t find any mechanical cause, investigators were all too quick to blame the crew. There was no evidence that the crew did anything wrong, but somehow, and sometime, during the near-catastrophic dive, the cockpit voice recorder was erased. Investigators assumed that a crew member intentionally erased the recording and, therefore, that the crew had something to hide. Thus, the investigators simply would not believe anything the crew had to say.

“Scapegoat” is a scathing indictment of nearly everyone involved in the investigation, particularly the NTSB and Boeing. They quickly reached a conclusion – that the pilot and crew were hiding something – and ignored or minimized any evidence that suggested otherwise. “Scapegoat” is also critical of the media, which preferred a quick answer to the mystery to a delayed, but more accurate one. Media outlets put out theories based on snippets of information or misinformation and rarely put forward a thoughtful or thoroughly researched analysis.

The book does an excellent job of taking the reader through the investigative process. One sees the chronological progression suggested by the subtitle in which the crew is recognized as heroes for avoiding a catastrophic crash, and then portrayed as villains by the tunnel-vision investigators, and ultimately as blameless decades later. The book is quite technical at times and often way over my head. Corsetti is a professional pilot and perhaps overestimated the aeronautical background of the average reader. Or, perhaps the book was intended for those with far greater knowledge I in this regard. There are a few graphs and drawings in the beginning of the book, and it might have helped to include more and to have disbursed them throughout the book. In addition, many of the photographs and other graphics in the book were of poor quality, and sharper images with greater explanation may have helped.

Despite that, “Scapegoat” by Emilio Corsetti, III, is a superb “truth is stranger than fiction” tale and a thorough exposé of a botched investigation. While TWA Flight 841 fell from the sky nearly 40 years ago, “Scapegoat” certainly provides lessons to be learned and heeded today.
10 reviews
June 25, 2017
I was of two minds in deciding to read this book, since the title indicated that the investigation fell heavily on the flight crew. They certainly went from "Heros to Villains", but none came out redeemed. The description of the incident was well written, as was the entire book. But I lost heart after the crew lost the second round of the NTSB evaluations.

The material included by the author made me fairly worried that the NTSB investigation began with a bias, and I was never comfortable with the fact that the crew were never given the opportunity to respond in a give and take situation. Nor did the author indicate that the logical holes in the NTSB's report were ever satisfactorily explained. And the process was quite different from that where a crash was not averted, nor were there any fatalities.

Fascinating, though sometimes infuriating, especially when apparently illogical analyses were ignored, this is an excellent primer for anyone interested in the bureaucratic and political issues involved among the key parties - the crew who flew the plane, their union, the airline that scheduled the flight (TWA), the the National Transportation Safety Board which is responsible for investigation air accidents and Boeing, who manufactured the plane.

Despite my review, I strongly recommend this book for its excellent writing and full technical details.
Profile Image for Edward Barrett.
39 reviews
January 15, 2018
I recommend this book for those of you who are interested in why things fail. It's an in-depth look at a near fatal 727 incident, the investigation that followed, and the decades of effort by the flight crew to correct what they saw as investigative errors. Given our technological society and dependence on sophisticated machinery and systems, incidents are bound to happen. Bridges and buildings collapse, aircraft fall from the sky, electric grids falter. The causes of such events must be fully investigated and understood if we are to prevent or mitigate them in the future, and such investigations must be run well and thoroughly and avoid the tunnel vision that can result when conclusions are reached too soon. This is a detailed review of such an incident and the investigation that followed.

One note for eBook readers: this volume contains a lengthy glossary of terms and people. Unfortunately, each time a term is used or certain key people are mentioned, the words are faintly underlined. As you change pages, it's all too easy to accidentally be sent to the glossary and have to struggle to return to your place. Totally aggravating.
1 review
Read
July 13, 2020
While leaving Reno Cannon Airport after a short sight seeing flight in the early 80's a friend approach me to come an look at the TWA 727 with wrinkled skin around the wing roots. I had never seen such a thing in all my time working around passenger aircraft. While we were on the ramp another fellow approached us and told us a story about a flight crew and pilot who rolled a 727 the night before this one was damaged attempting the same thing. The stress was obvious by the wrinkling of the aluminum skin but the plane was obviously deemed airworthy after some work. The stressed wrinkled skin around the wing root was still obvious. I kept that image and story in my mind and spoke of it with my friends while hangar flying. No one believed that such a thing happened. When I saw this book I had to read it. In face of such strong allegations the book explains that the roll story wasn't true. I have no idea whether or not such a cavalier thing was done by the captain but it was portrayed in the beginning of the movie American Made with Tom Cruise when he appears to roll his 727 at night. Who knows the truth but the reading is good.
8 reviews
March 2, 2019
As a former Air Traffic Controller at Detroit Metro the night TWA841 landed.

I came to work on the midnight shift after TWA 841 landed. It has been a long time ago now but I do remember seeing the damage to the aircraft in person. I’m not a pilot and don’t pretend to understand all the technical jargon in the book but 12 years working for the FAA at Detroit Metro as a controller gave me good insight. (I also flew as a crew member on a Navy P3 during Nam.)
It is too bad the crew of 841 didn’t get to state their side very well, as Hoot said on many occasions. But the NTSB must find someone to blame....better the crew than the equipment.
Having said that, on page 38 It states that Hoot went back into the aircraft to get his suitcase. This was just after landing at Detroit. Could he have erased the CVR at that time? This was never mentioned.
February 6, 2021
I knew Hoot Gibson from my brief tour of duty as a Director of Customer Service based at ORD. It took a long time to exonerate Hoot as the cause of the incident of TWA 841. This is a "must read" for aviation buffs and those former TWA employees who remember Hoot and the incident. While the book is filled with technical terms, the author did an excellent job of explaining it all in language for non-flyers.
Corsetti compares the NTSB investigation into TWA 841 to the investigation of "The Miracle on the Hudson". The NTSB did everything possible to blame the crew. Yet in the end, truth prevailed. While "Sully" endured a short time of blame, it took more than a decade for Hoot's name to be cleared.
Congratulations Corsetti for getting it right.
Bess Guptill Carnahan
1 review
February 22, 2019
A story well told

I enjoyed this book. The technical reports were a bit dry but necessary to the story. It is disappointing to hear how the flight crew was hung out to dry when they were actually heroes. The condemnation by flight attendants and other pilots was maddening and hard to understand. And the mishandling of the investigation and the personal attacks on the captain by NTSB is both frightening and disturbing. I would hope they too have learned since then.
Profile Image for Ian yarington.
432 reviews4 followers
May 7, 2017
Generally speaking I rather enjoy non-fiction books because it's always fun to read about real life situations and hear amazing stories. The one thing that I always worry about is bias and inaccuracies but from everything that I have researched this is a pretty accurate account. The book is well written and fun to read so I powered through it pretty quick. I would call it a page turner.
Profile Image for Jane Thompson.
Author 5 books10 followers
February 20, 2019
Flight Story

This book is interesting in the story of a flight crew who underwent an almost fatal incident in which their plans went into a five and nearly crashed. They could not explain the reason and because the tape was almost blank they were distrusted by the safety group. The explanations for the happening were too technical for me to understand.
Profile Image for The Sandstress.
71 reviews
June 14, 2019
I enjoyed this book. It really was frustrating to see how the NTSB and the FAA could actually manipulate data to fit their pre-conceived notions about the incident that occurred. I hope that after this particular episode that they started being honest with themselves about any type of incident that occurs so we get just the facts not opinion.
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