Tag Archives: William Langewiesche

Fly By Wire

William Langewiesche anthropomorphizes airplanes.

In this book, it’s the Airbus A330 that landed on the Hudson River ten years ago. Having disgorged its passengers and crew safely, it was just “driftng nose high like a beast in the water, and refusing to die.”

Good story-telling, and good tech and flying skill, by the son of Wolfgang, author of Stick and Rudder, a classic book on the art of piloting.

Two arrows touching, nose to nose

I keep thinking back to the scenes of four pilots on separate flight decks unknowingly converging over the Amazon jungle. The Brazilian 737 pilots are sharing family photographs and flirting with a flight attendant. The American pilots in the Legacy biz jet are puzzling over how to operate a digital camera.

Both groups are at Flight Level 370 (37,000 feet) in normal mode: eyes inside the boat, letting their autopilots, transponders and collision-avoidance gear do the work while assuming that Air Traffic Control has things well in hand. But the Legacy’s transponder was on the blink and the controllers were asleep at the switch. Heckuva tale about what happened, here by journalist William Langewiesche.

His father’s classic, Stick and Rudder, led me to try flying back in 1974 in a Cessna 150 over South Florida. I was defeated practicing stalls above Boca Raton. Could not get the feel of falling out of my stomach or the picture of disaster out of my head. And it was too expensive. I stuck to scuba diving.