Scapegoat: Interview with Emilio Corsetti III



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 is the author of the book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980. The upcoming book Scapegoat: A Flight Crew's Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption tells the true story of an airline crew wrongly blamed for causing a near-fatal accident and the captain's decades-long battle to clear his name. Emilio is a graduate of St. Louis University. He and his wife Lynn reside in Dallas, TX.

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About the Book:

Title: Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villians to Redemption
Author: Emilio Corsetti
Publisher: Odyssey Publishing, LLC
Pages: 472
Genre: Nonfiction Narrative

"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.

Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption is available at Amazon and B&N.
  
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A: The inspiration for this book came from a simple forum post. I had just watched the film Flight starring Denzel Washington. I'm a fan Denzel Washington and Robert Zemeckis. Unfortunately, the film had way too many cringe-inducing errors. I'll give just a couple of examples: the filmmakers showed the exterior of one plane and the imaginary cockpit of another, in turbulent weather you decrease the speed you don't increase it, if you pull the fire handle on an engine, it shuts off the fuel and the engine; you can't decide later to advance the throttles.

So after sitting through one ridiculous scene after another, I decided to check out a pilot forum to see what others in the profession thought of the film. That's when I saw a post about TWA 841. The author of the post made a comment that the filmmakers should have told the true story of TWA 841 and how the crew was wrongly blamed for causing a near-fatal accident.

I had heard of TWA 841. I remember thinking at the time that those pilots were toast. There's no way that they would be able to keep their jobs after the NTSB accused them of causing a plane to roll over and dive of some 39,000 feet, and then trying to cover up their actions by erasing the cockpit voice recorder. I assumed that the captain was selling real estate somewhere.

But I soon learned that not only was the crew not fired, but TWA and the pilot's union fought for years to have the NTSB findings reversed. Now there's a story.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A: Writing any book is hard work. My first book took nearly three years to get to a first draft. I had a first draft of this book in just two years. The difference? Scrivener. This book was not written in a linear fashion. For one, the material didn't come to me in a linear fashion. I wrote in sections based on whatever source material I was reviewing at the time. The Scrivener software was indispensable in helping me keep track of a very complex project and then later assembling it into a readable manuscript.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

A: A self-published book is something you print at Kinkos and put in a three-ring binder. The book Scapegoat is independently published. I would stack it up against any book from a major publisher. The same is true for the eBook and audio download.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A: Yes. People don't buy books based on who published them. They buy them based on reviews and what's inside.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

A: I'm always looking for good true stories to tell.

Q: What's one fact about your book that would surprise people?

A: Those NTSB investigators you see on television with the clipboards and the baseball caps and jackets emblazoned with NTSB on the front and back, they're not perfect. They make mistakes just like detectives and prosecutors.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A: This story is about a conflict between the credibility of a flight crew against the integrity of the most popular aircraft in the world at that time. Boeing and the NTSB won the first couple of rounds. I hope this book finally vindicates the crew.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

A: Thank you for giving me this forum to talk about this important book.


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