Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Vanishing of Flight MH370 by Richard Quest ****

"Many people have asked me how I can write a book about MH370 when authorities haven't found the plane and the ending of the story remains unknown."
The Vanishing of Flight MH370 by Richard Quest is more and less than the story of the Boeing 777 that left Malaysia on March 8, 2014, never to be seen again. Without the main story, "What happened?" Quest (appropriate name, right?) fills his book with the stories of the families, the investigators, and, like Ouroboros eating his tail, the news reporters.

Richard Quest is a CNN aviation correspondence, and CNN was the news organization that invested the most resources and air time to this story. For a time, CNN was 24/7 on this story. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show mocked them, but their viewers loved it. At the time, many people accused to CNN of padding their coverage to fill the demands of 24-hours news coverage. One might say something similar about this book.

Given the task to report everything, except the resolution which is still unknown, the author reviews all the air crashes since Pan Am 103 crashed over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988. If you are a nervous flyer, this litany of accidents and deliberate events will not be helpful. However, taking a step back, we can be encouraged by the variety of conditions. There is no pattern, fatal crashes tend to be unique and not repeated.

As each crash tends to be unique, the governments, scientists, and airline executives are never prepared and struggle with the right balance of caution and disclosure. For example, over a year after the disappearance a piece of the plane (flaperon) was found.
"It was a very strange situation: everyone agreed that this was a 777 flaperon, but no one would say it was THE flaperon. Yet what else could it be? There were no other missing 777s in that part of the world.
Like the CNN viewers, many readers will find the book fascinating, with its extensive research, comprehensive reporting, and accessible treatment of hyper-technical topics. I certainly enjoyed it.

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