Against a backdrop of inadequate funding, misplaced priorities and a lack of manpower, American commercial aviation in the 1960s was in a perilous state. In July 1967, when a Piedmont Airlines Boeing 727 collided with a Cessna 310 over Hendersonville, North Carolina, killing 82 people, the industry was in crisis. Congress called hearings on aviation safety and government and union officials pressured President Lyndon Johnson to request increased funding for aviation safety.
But the National Transportation Safety Board’s probe into the crash was flawed from the start. The investigative team was made up of individuals whose companies had certain interests in the outcome. The lead investigator was the brother of the vice president of Piedmont Airlines. In an effort to shift blame from the government and Piedmont, critical conversations recorded on tape never made it into the NTSB’s report. Maintenance and training records, as well as industry warnings of the 727’s operational limitations, were also omitted. This book reveals the true story of the investigation: what was left out and why.