It was a warm early fall day and I was hiking with my family in a wooded area and the sense of spookiness came over me. The location was near the small town of Cannelton, Indiana located on the banks of the Ohio River in Perry County. The sense of spookiness came as I was told that the grounds we were walking on was the site of the crash of Northwest (Orient) Flight 710, Chicago-Midway bound for Miami. It was a Lockheed Electra L-188 (N121US) that not only lost control of itself, it lost both wings which sent the fuselage plummeting down. There were no survivors. All 57 passengers and 6 crew met their permanent graves instantly in Southern Indiana on March 17, 1960. On that day of our hike, I had never flown commercially, and after that day, I made the vow to be terrified to do so. (Ironically my first commercial flight was with Northwest Airlines.)
I would relive this spookiness the year after I moved to New York City in a more en masse and well known event. I woke up that mid-September morning when I thought I heard a gunshot. I turned on the news and it was done. Having thought it was yet another movie in the making, turned out to be not only my worst nightmare, but the nightmare of millions of my fellow New Yorkers, less alone U.S. and international citizens. My view of the skyline was never and will never be the same again both physically and emotionally.
We all thought to relive this event yet once again, however, Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger III, made it a happy ending when he brought the Airbus Industrie A320 (N106US) as a glider into the Hudson River saving all 150 passengers and 5 crew on January 9, 2011 a little over a decade after 9/11.
Then the Air France Airbus A330 crash… The KLM/Pan Am Tenerife catastrophe…
History tells the tale of so many aviation accidents, innocent lives lost…
Kathryn (“Kat”) Jacobs, an established (with a sense of smarts and an investigator) yet an unestablished individual (as she had an unfinished dream of having a career, family, happiness, etc. all at the same time) who was asked to secretly come back to the N.T.S.B. (National Transportation Safety Board) after a leave to help investigate a series of recent crashes which had occurred to find out exactly how and why they occurred. Flight safety was her mission. Her husband, Bill, an experienced airline captain, also had an agenda in mind as he was on the verge of being elected President of the Airline Pilot Union. I thought it was a plain and simple matter why he was against his wife’s return to the N.T.S.B. as he wanted her to be a housewife. However, the author of this work Karlene Petitt had other things in mind for me. I struggled, really, to put this novel down to find out the real reason why Bill did not want his wife returning back to work and pursuing that unfinished dream.
What also seemed to be the same goal between Bill and Kathryn Jacobs (improving the conditions of pilots in order to promote and maintain safety) actually came to differ towards the end of the novel. The way in which the mysteries unfold and the pieces of this thriller come together are a masterpiece par excellence by Petitt. (I am not going to spoil the end for those who haven’t read it. You will have to buy and read it.)
Amidst the chaos of the investigations, the secrecy, the lies, the corruption, and downfall of the events, I must say that the binding friendships between Kathryn, Darby, Jackie, and Linda (and their families) added a nice touch of grace to the novel and really set the scene for the meaning of having a support system to survive life’s journey no matter how turbulent it might become.
After having finished the novel for the third time, it is important to me how much our (aviation) industry needs a huge change and now. Petitt definitely has used her skill as an experienced international airline pilot and talent as an excellent writer in her epic command of the English language that had me in suspense to the point that I had to set bedtime curfews of at least 2:00 a.m. (Speaking of pilot fatigue..)
My message to you Karlene is this,
You have just served the most delicious piece of chocolate covered literary cheesecake that I have ever devoured. I hope the motion picture for this novel is near completion and your second novel is well on its way because I am hungry for more!
is currently an international airline pilot operating the Airbus Industrie A330 for a major international carrier, has thirty-three years of experience in our industry, and holds a type-rating for the Boeing 747-400, 747, 757, 767, 737, and 727. She has flown for several (international) airlines in the past including Northwest Airlines. Holding multiple masters degrees, she is also a motivational speaker and giver of wings for anyone with a dream. Please visit her site “Flight To Success”