Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Authors To Watch: Interview with Emilio Corsetti III, author of 'Scapegoat'

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.

For More Information

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.

Tell us a little about yourself.

When I’m not writing, I work as a pilot for a major airline. I’m an avid reader. Recently I discovered Amazon’s Whispersync. With this technology I hope to double the number of books I can enjoy. Start on my Kindle, pick up listening to the audio narration in my car or at the gym, and back to the Kindle. My latest title is Whispersync enabled.

When did you begin writing?

I started writing in my mid-twenties. I wrote for an aviation publication. That type of writing allowed me to learn the craft, but it was less than inspiring.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write? 

I write nonfiction narratives–true stories about real people and events. This involves a lot of research. So say I fly somewhere to do an interview. I’ll videotape the interview. When I get back, I’ll post a short clip of the video I just shot. I’ll then go through the video and write down notes. Next I’ll take those notes and write them in narrative form in Scrivener. At some point, I will begin organizing the narrative notes into a beginning, middle, and end. Scapegoat took two years from my first interview to a first draft. It was another year-and-a-half before I had a book available for purchase. The video clips I posted on my site are still there. Using the site map and viewing posts from oldest to newest, you can see the complete evolution of the book from first interview to book launch.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

At the heart of this book is a mystery. What caused a Boeing 727 to roll over and plummet some 39,000 feet? The answer to that central question is not resolved until nearly eight years after the incident. It takes the efforts of a retired aeronautical engineer and a lone pilot investigator to finally piece together the evidence pointing to a probable cause not considered by the original investigators. Along the way there is a twenty-million-dollar libel suit, a civil trial, and a conflict between the credibility of a flight crew and the integrity of the most popular aircraft in the world.

How did you get the idea for the book?

The idea came from a simple forum post. I had just watched the film Flight starring Denzel Washington. I know a lot of people liked it, but those of us in the profession hated it due to the many inaccuracies. I went online to see what other pilots had to say about the film. That’s when I came across a post mentioning TWA 841 and how the filmmakers should have told that story.
I had a vague recollection about the incident. I had always assumed that the flight crew had been terminated. The NTSB accused the flight crew of fooling around with flight controls while at cruise, nearly crashing and killing everyone on board, and then they tried to cover up their actions by erasing the cockpit voice recorder. You would think those would be grounds for termination. But I soon learned that none of the three crew members were fired. In fact, TWA defended the crew and filed their own petition for reconsideration to the NTSB. Now there’s an interesting story.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

The central character is the captain–Hoot Gibson. He is the one who bore the brunt of the criticism. I tried to portray him as honestly as I could, warts and all.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Grasping the technical aspects of this story was the most difficult task in writing this book. Some reviewers have commented that the book is overly technical. But here’s the deal. This book challenges the work of a major corporation (Boeing) and a highly regarded government institution (the NTSB). In order to present a compelling case that the original investigators got it wrong, it was necessary to explain in detail why and how they got it wrong as well as explain the most likely sequence of events that led to the upset.

Which authors have inspired your writing?

I am a big fan of writers like Lauren Hillenbrand and Michael Lewis. They have not let themselves become pigeonholed into a specific genre. Take Lauren Hillenbrand. What do Seabiscuit and Unbroken have in common? Answer, there both great true stories.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve started working on a screenplay adaptation of Scapegoat.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

I would recommend that you learn about book publishing as far as the relationship between agents and editors. If you’re writing nonfiction, you need to learn about writing a proposal. Once you have something solid to offer, try the traditional publishing route first. If that doesn’t pan out, then publish the work yourself as an independently published book.

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