Monday, March 17, 2014

Reconstructing a Downed Airliner to Learn the Cause of the Crash

I've written a number of novels, including Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle). A Question of Proof or A Question of Proof (Kindle); Star Time: New Version & New Introduction or Star Time(Kindle); Birthright or Birthright (Kindle); and Deeds or Deeds (Kindle). In writing my book Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle), I wanted readers to know how National Transportation Safety Board investigators reconstruct a downed airliner to aid them in discovering the cause of a crash.

Here's an excerpt:

Sunday morning in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is for church or sleeping late. For Will and Clayton, the morning was for viewing a reconstructed section of a 747 in a drafty hangar at the edge of an airfield.

Hunks of debris from 211, the first plane downed, were marked with chalk or tags and scattered about the floor, while the tail, still miraculously whole, towered high into the steel joists, emphasizing the devastation of the rest.

Tal's plane would look like this one, Will realized with a start. As a boy dragged along to church each week, he had pictured the Apocalypse like this—cemeteries littered with the broken toys of the forever departed.

"It's the most perfect flying machine ever built," Bill Ewing said softly as he led them around the twisted metal wired on wooden scaffolding into the rough configuration of what used to be the front end of a 747. "So perfect it can take off, guide itself across country, land and end up within twenty feet of the gates with the flight crew playing gin rummy all the way. Every system has a backup. It can fly routinely on three engines and land on two. It has even made it safely down on one. It flew two billion miles without a fatal accident."

Ewing pointed to the far end of the empty hangar. "Those engines can lift over three quarters of a million pounds of fully loaded plane forty-five thousand feet into the sky and fly six hundred miles an hour carrying between four and five hundred people. But if only ten or twenty pounds of that load is high explosive, this is what you have left."

Bill Ewing had spent half of his sixty years designing and building ever larger, more sophisticated airliners, and the last ten years putting bits and pieces back together.

"Where exactly was the bomb placed?" Clayton asked.

Ewing pointed. "Right about there. Above the left lavatory in first class. Whoever put it there unscrewed a ceiling panel that shields the light fixture, placed the bomb inside and put back the panel."

Read more: Stalking the Sky or Stalking the Sky (Kindle).

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