An incredible 30,000 flights - at least - arrive safely at their destinations every day. But a handful don't, while some come terrifyingly close to crashing. When even the smallest thing does go wrong at 35,000 feet, the result is nearly always a fast-unfolding tragedy.
This extensive collection of compelling real-life accounts of air disasters and near-disasters provides a sobering, alternative history of the just over 105 years that passengers have been travelling by air, from the very earliest fatality to recent calamities.
But there are incredible stories of heroism against the odds, too, such as that of Captain Chesley Sullenberger who successfully landed his aircraft with both engines gone on the Hudson River in New York, saving the lives of everyone aboard, and of the American Airlines crew who prevented terrorist Richard Reid from exploding a bomb hidden in his shoe three months after 9/11.
The book also details the often ingenious, always painstaking work done by air-accident investigators, while a glossary helps to clarify the occasional, inevitable bits of jargon.
Paul Simpson has written on a wide variety of topics, with his recent books including an acclaimed overview of conspiracy theories, a history of spying since the Second World War, an anthology of prison breaks, and examinations of the careers of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen King as well as the world of L. Frank Baum's Oz. A keen traveller, he currently oversees news and reviews website Sci-Fi Bulletin from his home in a small village north of Brighton, England.