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Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds: The Tragedy &…

Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds: The Tragedy & Triumph of ASA Flight 529

by Gary M. Pomerantz

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This is not just a book about an airplane crash. It is a story about humanity in the face of adversity -- indeed, sheer terror.

On August 21, 1995, ASA flight 529, a commuter plane with a total of 29 people aboard, experienced catastrophic engine failure, due to a broken propeller blade, after takeoff from Atlanta. (Not only was the engine useless, its displacement and disfigurement destroyed the aerodynamic properties of the airplane's left wing, rendering the plane almost impossible to handle.) Nine minutes, twenty seconds later, ASA 529 crashed into a Georgia hayfield. This book is the story of those precious minutes, as well as the circumstances leading up to them and the aftermath of the crash. More importantly, it is the story of the people involved, and how their lives were changed in an instant.

I found this book difficult to put down, even in the midst of a very hectic week in my life. Author Pomerantz introduced me to the people on and connected to this plane, and made me actually care about these total strangers. (I was tearful as I read of the eventual deaths of passengers who initially survived the crash.)

Pomerantz also dscribed, clearly and understandably, the technical issues involved in the airplane's crash. He begins the book by introducing us to the technician who -- following to the letter the (flawed) company procedures he'd been taught, and using to the best of his ability the (inadequate) equipment provided by his employer --inspected and serviced the fatal propeller blade over a year prior to its ultimate failure.

The crash and the moments immediately preceding and following are described in vivid detail. Later, we watch the crash investigation process. We glimpse the terrible suffering of burn recovery; we witness survivor guilt as it drains the spirit of many who made it out alive. We are also introduced to the seamier side of air disasters -- shameless attempts by insurers to limit their liability, and shady tactics by lawyers to snare clients from among the crash survivors and the victims' families. (About a year after this crash, legislation was passed to limit unsolicited contact with aircrash vicitms/families by lawyers for either side.) We also see how, despite the pain, some people manage to take full advantage of a "second chance" at life.

I found this book to be a riveting look at the "big picture" of what's involved in a plane crash. ( )
8 vote tymfos | Dec 12, 2009 |
Good book. Has good background and crash info as well as the human factors side. ( )
  tmstimbert | May 13, 2009 |
Gripping book, which came out just before 9/11. I always thought that it would have done better with different timing. Well-reported and reads like a novel. ( )
  suedonym | Jul 6, 2006 |
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There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is on spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul. -- VICTOR HUGO, Les Miserables
For Leigh, the little girl who makes my heart sing.
In honor of the 29 who flew that day, those who lived, those who died.
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Christ Bender's life changed when he saw a roomful of auto mechanics with big bellies. He was soft-spoken, courteous, earnest -- and drifting. He wasn't sure what he wanted his world to be. One look around that room that day told him he didn't want to be one of those men. The thought scared him. He realized he might spend a lifetime working on cars and one day show up middle-aged and worn out to take an auto mechanic's certification test. He was too young to give up dreaming.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0609606336, Hardcover)

An American could fly on a turboprop run by a regional carrier once per day and not expect to die in a crash for 8,000 years, according to one estimate. That's small consolation to the 29 people who found themselves on ASA Flight 529 in 1995, when a faulty propeller cracked and destroyed one of their plane's engines. As Gary M. Pomerantz notes in Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds--the title refers to the length of time between the engine blowing and impact--"Of all the emergency checklists, there was none on how to fly with one wing." Pomerantz says his book is "not about a plane falling, but the human spirit rising." That's only part right. Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds has plenty of human-interest angles, but it mainly holds a morbid fascination akin to rubbernecking at the scene of a highway accident. Ever wonder what people do when they know they're about to crash and believe they might die? Herein lie the answers. (Unexpectedly, they don't scream.) Pomerantz conducted hundreds of interviews for this book, from the flight's 19 survivors to family members of the deceased to the mechanic who refurbished the bad propeller before it went back on the plane. It is by turns interesting, poignant, and harrowing. Readers drawn to stories of adversity will find it riveting. --John Miller

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:14 -0400)

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A chronicle of the responses of passengers and crew who survived the propeller failure and crash of Atlantic Southeast Flight 529 on a flight from Atlanta to the Mississippi coast in August 1995.

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