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.
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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
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.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
I don’t have the best grammar. I’m a terrible speller. And I confuse similes and metaphors. But I can write a story that has a beginning, middle, and end.
What was your inspiration for Scapegoat?
I saw the film Flight and thought that there was a better true story that had some of the same themes.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I am drawn to stories of injustice. I like David and Goliath type stories. I like stories with a mystery where each chapter builds on the chapter that came before. The book Scapegoat hits all of those notes.
How long did it take you to complete the book?
I finished the first draft in two years, then it was another year of rewriting with some time off in between.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
This book, like my first, was not written in a linear fashion. For example, I might interview one person who was involved with the beginning of the story and then, because of scheduling or other circumstances, interview someone who might have been involved later on.
After an interview, I’ll go through the video footage (I videotape all of my interviews). I might pick out a few segments to cut into a short clip that I’ll post on my website and social media. I’ll compile my notes into a narrative form.
You can see this process from inception to completion by looking at the category posts on my personal website. Go to www.EmilioCorsetti.com and then to the sitemap. Scroll down until you get to the Scapegoat category. Each of those posts represents a tiny segment of the book. Some of the posts have the same name as the chapter title. A lot of the posts have video clips.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
This book challenges the work of a major corporation (Boeing) and a highly regarded government institution (the NTSB). In order to make a convincing case that the investigators got it wrong, I had to show where and how they got it wrong. I had to do it in a way that would stand up to challenges from other investigators and experts. Yet, I still had the obligation to tell a compelling story that would appeal to a wide audience.
What do you love most about being an author?
The finished product.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
Getting any book published by a traditional publisher is very difficult. I would compare it to trying to get a screenplay greenlit. But just as there are opportunities for independent filmmakers, there are new opportunities for independently published books.
Where can we find you on the web?