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Smithsonian Books Releases "The Flight 981 Disaster"

Account of Historic Plane Crash Available Oct. 3

October 3, 2017

Smithsonian Books released The Flight 981 Disaster: Tragedy, Treachery, and the Pursuit of Truth, by journalist Samme Chittum, Oct. 3. The book tells of a devastating plane crash, a manufacturer’s cover-up, and the race to prevent further loss of life.

On June 12, 1972, a powerful explosion rocked American Airlines Flight 96 a mere five minutes after its takeoff from Detroit. The explosion ripped a hole in the bottom of the aircraft and jammed the hydraulic controls. Yet despite the damage and ensuing chaos, the pilots were able to land the plane safely. Less than two years later, on March 3, 1974, a sudden, forceful blowout tore through Turk Hava Yollari (THY) Flight 981 from Paris to London. THY Flight 981 was not as fortunate as Flight 96; it crashed in a forest in France, and none of the 346 people on board survived.

Through a detailed chronicle of the crash, cockpit recordings, eyewitness interviews, official reports and accounts from those closest to the accident investigation, Chittum sets readers in the midst of the high-stakes probe into the disintegration and crash of the aircraft. The book investigates the questions raised by the tragedy: What caused the explosions? How were they linked? Could they have been prevented? The Flight 981 Disaster offers an insider’s look at one of the world’s worst aviation disasters and its impact on commercial aviation history.

About the Author

Chittum is a narrative journalist and Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship recipient who explores the intersection of current events and history. Her work has been published by the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post and Village Voice.

About the Book

Title: The Flight 981 Disaster
Author: Samme Chittum
On-Sale Date: 10/3/17
Price: $24.95 / Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-1-58834-603-2
Smithsonian Books

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Leah Enser
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Book cover