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At the time, it was by far the most terrible airline disaster that had ever occurred, anywhere in the world.
WE ARE GOING IN is the story of the midair collision between United Air Lines Flight 718 and TWA Flight 2 over the Grand Canyon on June 30, 1956, in which all 128 persons aboard lost their lives. It is a search for the truth told largely as a documentary, presenting some of my theories about what happened and providing generous supportive evidence or proof for each of them. I also repudiate a number of longstanding beliefs, by re-examining the physical evidence and drawing on testimony and reasoning. Along with my emphasis on determining the course of events on the day of the disaster, I have written WE ARE GOING IN with heartfelt compassion, and because of this the book is not only informative but also dramatic and moving. My style moves back and forth between mundane or technical subjects, and the grave, terrible circumstances and events that caused the accident, interspersing these with many compassionate sentiments about the people involved. I also offer surprisingly pertinent, compelling insights into the human psyche and the role of fate in the unfolding of events.
I present many simple facts and special terms and concepts pertaining to aviation; with a fuller understanding of airplanes and flying, the reader cannot help but find a better grasp of the tragedy. On the other hand, for the reader who may prefer to experience the story more purely as a drama, the Foreword includes an outline of where most of the technical sections are. The book is written in such a way that these can be skipped without disrupting the continuity or the substance of the story. Whichever path the reader chooses to follow through the book, the reader will likely come away with heightened reverence for mankind.
I lost my uncle in the airline disaster that is the subject of this book. Countless times throughout my youth, I thought deeply about my uncle’s final moments, straining to understand and to empathize with him. Despite the sensitivity and caring with which I imagined the accident, I could never quite fathom or fully accept what had happened, and in mid-life I decided to find out as much as I could. My researches led to a great many surprising places and people, and soon to the completely unexpected resolve to write an entire book about the accident. The result is the present volume, entitled after the last words of one of the crew members.
I spent over a decade researching, interviewing, and analyzing, steeping myself in the accident and educating myself in aviation and aeronautics. Writing has been one of my avocations for my whole adult life, and when I turned my investigations of the collision toward creating an entire book about it, I found the best, most inspiring application of my expository style that I have ever found.