Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mayday” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,783 ratings  ·  358 reviews
Twelve miles above the Pacific Ocean, a missile strikes a jumbo passenger jet. The flight crew is crippled or dead. Now, defying both nature and man, three survivors must achieve the impossible. Land the plane. From master storyteller Nelson DeMille and master pilot Thomas Block comes Mayday, the classic bestseller that packs a supersonic shock at every turn of the page... ...more
Paperback, Revision of 1979 original, 480 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Grand Central Publishing (first published November 5th 1979)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,783 ratings  ·  358 reviews

Sort order
Rohit Enghakat
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: techno-thriller
This is a fantastic techno-thriller. All about a Tokyo-bound supersonic jet flying at 62000 feet hit by a naval missile inadvertently over the Pacific Ocean and how an amateur pilot and a flight steward try to bring the aircraft to safer grounds. The passengers are either dead or suffer from brain damage. The flight crew are all dead. There are only five survivors. The US naval officers in charge, the airline officials and the insurance agency try to cover it up for their own interests. The surv ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other
I don't give out a lot of 5's, so I really need to explain this one for this very reason in addition to this book is way outside of my usual reading genres. I've always felt that if the author can properly evoke an intended emotional response in a reader, then the book is fairly well written. And while this book does stray outside of the realm of possibility on a number of occasions, I don't necessarily discount stories that take creative liberties. Isn't that why they are called stories?

With a
Joe Kucharski
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
The story behind the story is probably known well enough by now. Thomas Block, pilot by day, writer by night, pens an air flight disaster novel back in the seventies with the help of his good friend, and superstar novelist in the making, Nelson DeMille. The story is a success and twenty plus years later, DeMille does a re-write to bring the tale into modern times, or at least modern by late 20th-Century standards. Here’s the kick, though, DeMille gets top billing on the re-release, and partner, ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great edge-of-your-seat disaster thriller! Reading Mayday felt like watching one of those old disaster movies!

The Military test-fires a missile, missing it's target the missile strikes a large passenger flight, killing the flight crew and some of the passengers, and leaving the survivors severely brain-damaged due to the loss of oxygen. Only 3 coherent survivors are left on board, John Berry, a man with flight experience a 13 year old girl named Linda, and Flight Attendant Sharon, take it upon
Kevin Bresnahan
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book is stated as "one of the greatest air disaster novels of all time". They weren't kidding, as it is tremendous in its drama, horror, suspense, and redemption of the human spirit. A missile is inadvertently shot through a giant passenger airplane in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The utter deveastation is heart wrenching, and almost all either die or are incapicated. Only three people are coherent enough to follow through: a recerational pilot, a flight attendant, and girl adolescent. T ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok This is just what you want to read when you are flying in a couple of days, kinda like reading Jaws before a week at the beach. A secret missile test goes awry over the Pacific Ocean and hits a jumbo passenger jet. The missile is not armed but goes through the fuselage. The oxygen masks fall and all that crap but it doesn't do much good. The plane loses elevation, and everyone is without oxygen for a little too long, except for a few people who were trapped in locations where the oxygen level ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller, e-books
As a big Nelson DeMille fan, I was happy when I finally snagged this library ebook, but I have to say it was a big disappointment. Excruciatingly slow at points, the basic plot is a Navy violation of an arms treaty causes a missle to inadvertently transect a supersonic jet at 62,000 feet, causing death or brain damage to all but five people, who are either in the lavatories or sub-deck flight attendant station. Meanwhile, nobody seems to want the jet to return safely as the Navy seeks to cover i ...more
Jina Howell-Forbes
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: unusual-story, action
A Military screw-up causes a passenger plane to be hit by a missile. While an amateur plot, a flight attendant and a 13 year old girl try to fly and land the plane safely, military personnel, an insurance agent, and an airline executive, plot to undermine a successful landing to save their own backsides. This novel is Nelson DeMille at his best. A tight, suspenseful story with lots of twist and turns, corruption within the ranks of those in power, interesting interpersonal relationships, and a n ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b
If you're into planes or disaster scenarios, you should definitely pick up this book. It's written by a pilot so the descriptions of the plane, protocols, etc. are extremely detailed (almost too detailed for the average person). It's actually pretty gory in some parts and that turned me off although I can see why some of those parts were in the book. The book has characters you'll cheer for, characters you'll hate, and even those you'll feel sorry for. I've heard that some people have problems w ...more
Linda Wells
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mayday is an exciting story from beginning to end. The story was believable and gripping, and I finished the book at 3:00 a.m. today. If you like suspense, read Mayday. You're in for a "wild ride."
Johnwink fooks
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May day may say mayday

I felt like yelling May day throughout the entire book, one f the best I have e read in some years. it is so different than any aircraft thriller than I have ever read, until the very end. Will be reading more by this author right away.
Dalene W.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great read from Nelson DeMille with author Thomas Block. This is an updated book that was published in 1979. It's very well done. Nelson is my favorite author and he doesn't disappoint in this reprinted book. His books are always accurate and to the point.
Laura Gibson
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Love this book! I was on the edge of my seat the entire book.
Edwina Callan
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, bookcrossing, 2017
This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that had hubby and I absolutely riveted.
Highly recommended.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Disappointing, not the Nelson DeMille I know.
Nov 15, 2008 rated it liked it
The time is the near future, and the Pentagon, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to preempt the Congress' arms limitations treaty by testing a very sophisticated new type of missile that is much more maneuverable than previous models. Unfortunately, because of a number of normally inconsequential but interlocked failures of equipment and personal situations of the participants, the officers of the Nimitz are unaware that a Boeing 797, the newest supersonic passenger jet, flying at 63,000 feet, ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this audiobook for review from Hachette Audio. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

This is my first DeMille novel, and it won't be my last! This heart-pounding thriller will have you gripping the edge of your seat!

I had no idea that this book was actually originally written in the 1970s. In order to update aviation procedures and technology, it was updated and re-released in the 1990s.

A commercial airliner (Trans-United Airlines'
Sherry Wilson
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a thrilling story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, this is the book for you. This is the third or fourth time that I've read Mayday. The first time I borrowed the audio book from my library and was so caught up in the story I couldn't put the book aside. I purchased an audio book copy for myself at my first opportunity. I've had my copy since 2011. Nelson DeMille is a favorite author of mine and he co-authored the book with a boyhood friend who is a pilot. The intro ...more
Angus Whittaker
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
This is some of the best disaster fiction out there. At first, it seems to follow the basic pattern of such novels: there's some sort of disaster, and a few people are randomly picked to survive, and have to find a way to get back home. Mayday, however, deviated from this basic formula.
The plot can be easily summed up: Flight 52, a huge airliner with around 300 people aboard is hit by a missile illegally test-fired by the US Navy. At 62,000 feet, the oxygen deprivation is so severe that almost
Joe  Noir
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Probably not a good novel to read on a plane, I thought this was great fun. A jumbo jet loaded with passengers over the Pacific is accidentally struck by a missile fired by the military. There is decompression, which not only kills the flight crew, but lack of oxygen has turned most of the passengers into brain dead zombies. A few passengers escape this fate by being in a spot on the plane that did not decompress. How will they survive, and land the plane? What will the military do when they rea ...more
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first Nelson DeMille novel I ever picked up was "Plum Island" and I was blown away! Because of Goodreads, I discovered this book, which is a collaboration between DeMille and his lifelong friend and aviation expert Thomas Block. DeMille was very wise to have his friend help him with the aviation parts of this gripping novel. It works so well and draws you in to a world at 62,000 feet above the surface of the earth and super sonic speeds! Suddenly, that world is rocked by a wayward missile an ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that can be discussed on so many levels. It is fast paced and more about being "very afraid" of government cover ups and big business-$$$, than the fear of flying. Because that is a true fear on its own. It is full of agonizing and gut wrenching decisions by all involved. I could hear myself saying, "Don't go down there!; What are you thinking?; Should you really be saying that out loud?" As well as, Yikes, yikes, yikes! My head can't wrap around the aftermath of the ending and th ...more
Champaign Public Library
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: staff-recommends
I’ve never read this popular author before, but picked it up because of recent news about the missing Malaysian airliner. WOW! I was on the edge of my seat throughout this thrilling story packed with great characterizations and just enough technical detail. How could a large passenger plane just disappear? This story provided one terrifying explanation – an accidental military strike.

Recommended by Kelly S.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All I can say is WOW!! They gave a warning at the beginning of the audio that advised the listener to stop listening if they were on an airplane . . . and they weren't kidding!! This story was exciting from beginning to end and I couldn't wait to hear what happened next. The end was a bit anti-climatic for me as there really was no closure as to punishment for those responsible. Great listen--9 out of 10 for me.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I hadn't read a Nelson DeMille book in several years. I used to read a lot of his stories and I enjoy them very much. This one was about a plane disaster, so of course I gobbled it right up. Besides the life and death situation on the plane, there were several other things going on. Everyone seemed to want that plane to fly right into the ocean. It was a pretty intense story and I liked it a lot.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely insane, but really fun to read. It's trashy and implausible, but the idea of a guy fighting off what basically across as zombies in a decompressed, half-blown apart air-liner is pretty fun. No, they're not zombies, but they might as well be.

Use it to kill some time in the dentist's office waiting room. That's what I did.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
A must-read if you like airplane-disaster thrillers. Several players are involved, from the passengers and crew to the airline officials and the insurance company. The plot is rich with danger and politics, the pace is brisk, and the writing is engaging. An edge-of-your-seat thriller.
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great story involving ethical dilemmas where if just one person had made a different decision, the outcome would be different. Well written. Action-packed. EXCELLENT! Would be a good textbook for Ethics 101.
Rodwell Mkhwananzi
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
very nice read, ddnt enjoy the way they jumped scenes when the thrill got going and you go to a totally different place leaving you hanging for a good while. otherwise it has a very nice ending
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read a book quite like this before.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thriller Readers!: Who are you reading? 10 15 Jul 26, 2012 07:03PM  
  • Ten Degrees of Reckoning
  • Pandora's Clock
  • Firefox Down! (Mitchell Gant, #2)
  • Fear the Night (Night, #5)
  • Company Man
  • Betrayed (Butch Karp, #22)
  • The Shark Mutiny (Admiral Arnold Morgan, #5)
  • The Scorpion's Gate
  • Secret Sanction (Sean Drummond, #1)
  • Cold Choices (Jerry Mitchell, #2)
  • Silent Enemy (Michael Parson & Sophia Gold #2)
  • The Man Plan
  • Key Witness
  • Mucholapka
  • The Arraignment (Paul Madriani, #7)
  • Suffer the Children
  • Dark Zone (Deep Black, #3)
  • The Assassin (Badge of Honor, #5)
Nelson Richard DeMille was born in New York City on August 23, 1943 to Huron and Antonia (Panzera) DeMille, then moved with his parents to Long Island. He graduated from Elmont Memorial High School, where he played football and ran track.

DeMille spent three years at Hofstra University, then joined the Army where he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the United S
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The rest of what was termed these days their life-style was, to Berry, a cruel joke. An outrageously expensive house in Garden City that he had always disliked. The pretentious country club. The phony bridge group. Hollow friendships. Neighbourhood gossip. The cocktails, without which, all of Garden City, along with the neighbouring suburbs, would have committed mass suicide long ago.” 0 likes
“No." She turned away from him and stared out the windshield as though the argument as over.

He looked at her. He realized that he'd known her for less than seven hours, yet he felt that he knew her as well, certainly, as he knew Jennifer. Sharon Crandall had given him her complete and unquestioned trust, but know she was withdrawing it in favour of her own instincts, and he saw that she meant it. It was his turn to show the same perfect trust, though as a technical person he mistrusted instincts and always went with the odds and the gauges. "Okay. A little longer," he said.”
More quotes…