Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Bookish Chat 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
About the Book:

"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



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.
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.

Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption is available at Amazon and B&N.


Thanks for this interview, Emilio.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

Writing a book is hard work. If I’m going to spend several years working on a project, that project has to be compelling and hold my interest for the duration. For that reason, I focus entirely on nonfiction narratives. I have nothing against fiction writers, but for me nothing beats a true story.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

Golf, reading, and spending time with my wife.

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

When TWA 841 departed JFK on April 4, 1979, no one onboard had any idea of the drama that would soon unfold. One passenger, travelling with her husband, wrote in a journal about the smooth takeoff. She had been keeping a personal journal of her travels to share with her children on her return. She documented everything down to the most inconsequential detail such as her ears popping as the aircraft climbed. Days, weeks, and years later, after TWA 841 had become the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations in the agency’s history, investigators would scrutinize every minute of the flight in a similarly detailed manner. Much like a criminal investigation, the movements, actions, and whereabouts of each crew member were documented. Routine tasks such as when and where the meal trays were exchanged between the cockpit and cabin crew would take on added significance. Unraveling the mystery of TWA 841 was a monumental puzzle that needed to be solved. But unlike any accident investigation before or since, the same evidence investigators would use against the crew would be used by others to challenge the theories put forth by Boeing and the NTSB. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to which version is correct.


Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I spent a solid year-and-a-half trying the traditional route of agent/traditional publisher. I was writing during this period. In that year-and-a-half not one person requested anything beyond the proposal. I only sent out six proposals out of over sixty plus query letters. Three of the agents who received the proposal never even got back to me. Are you telling me that you are so busy that you can’t even respond to a proposal that you requested? I found the whole experience beyond frustrating. In the past, an author would simply give up at some point and their book would never see the light of day. Things have changed. There is a new movement in publishing similar to what has occurred in the film industry. Independently published books are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

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.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

There really is nothing like this on the market. How many books do you know have taken on a major corporation as well as a highly regarded government institution? This story has elements of a mystery, a criminal investigation, and a wrongful conviction. And believe it or not, the entire investigation goes off the rails all thanks to an eyewitness statement that happens to be in error.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

I would be happy to just have the book on the shelf along with other just released nonfiction books. Please don’t put the book on the ridiculously small shelf space dedicated to aviation books. This is a nonfiction narrative that just happens to be about an aviation incident.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

This is not that type of story. I could see this, however, as a documentary series or something along the lines of the serial podcast.

What’s next for you?

I’m always looking for good stories. I’ll know it when I see it.