In this video clip Hoot Gibson retells a story he’s told a thousand times. It’s a story that has been unchanged from the first time he told it some 33 years ago. It’s the not the same story of how the NTSB explained the upset, not even close. As you listen, you might hear a clue that was overlooked by everyone who looked at this incident when it first happened. It deals with the rudder.
It’s one thing to be accused of something that you didn’t do. It’s another thing to deal with that type of wrong day in and day out. You try to forget about it, but it’s always there, lurking around the corner. Just when you start to feel comfortable and confident, someone makes an unsympathetic comment that knocks you back down. At some point you give up trying to set the record straight. Let people think what they want to think. In this short clip Hoot talks about the emotional toll of of having been blamed for causing the upset of TWA 841. (Windows 8 users may have to refresh the screen if the video player does not appear.)
In addition to working on a book about TWA 841, I am also working on a documentary. So just as I will be posting bits and pieces of the book project I will also be adding video clips. The video clip below is Hoot Gibson describing the Boeing Scenario. (Note: Having trouble viewing the video? Try refreshing the screen.)
This is truly a rare image. It’s the only one I know of. The plane in this picture hasn’t been seen in over 43 years. But I know exactly where it is, or at least I know within a few miles of where it is. It’s currently sitting at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Note the name printed on the nose of the plane (click on the image to bring up a larger version).
This is the actual aircraft involved in the ALM 980 ditching, which is told in the book 35 Miles From Shore. The photo is from former ONA captain Paul Witting.
Before Hoot and the other two flight deck crew members aboard TWA 841 were unfairly blamed for causing the spiral dive on April 4, 1979, Hoot experienced the kind of notoriety that only a handful of pilots have ever experienced. You could say that Hoot was every bit as popular in the immediate days following the incident as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was after his ditching in the Hudson. Both pilots were credited with saving the lives of passengers and crew.
Hoot was bombarded with interview requests and even took a call from a Hollywood producer wanting to buy rights to his story. Unlike Sully, however, who remains a hero in the eyes of most who know his story, Hoot quickly went from hero to villain in the span of eight days. He ‘s been trying to correct that injustice for over thirty years.
The picture included in this post was taken just three days after the incident in his Las Vegas home. He doesn’t look it, but at the time this picture was taken Hoot had had at most three hours of sleep since that April 4th dive.
I’ll continue to keep posting bits and pieces of this story as I go about my research. So please be sure to keep checking back, or better yet, subscribe to the e-mail updates and you’ll stay in the loop.