There were 82 passengers aboard TWA 841. If anyone had an interest in finding out what had happened to TWA 841, it was them. During the course of the investigation, as Hoot and the crew came under suspicion for having caused the upset, Hoot visited with several passengers . Jeannine Rakowsky and her husband Bob along with Floyd and Patricia Carlson had been travelling together on April 4, 1979. They were returning from a week long visit to Portugal. They were sitting in first class. You can read a little about Jeannine and Bob in the post, Did anybody see what happened? (The Carlsons didn’t see Gary Banks leave the cockpit either.)
Jeannine had sent a Christmas card to Hoot, through TWA, thanking him for allowing them the opportunity to spend another Christmas with their family. Hoot decided to call Jeannine while on a visit to Minnesota. He ended up spending the night at their house. The next day he had dinner with Jeannine and Bob and Floyd and Patricia Carlson, who drove up to Duluth from Minneapolis just to talk to Hoot.
Hoot was emotional as he discussed all that was going on with the investigation. He talked about the attacks on his character and how the investigators were trying to pin everything on the crew. He told them about attempts by unscrupulous doctors who tried to ground him.
It was a moment in time when Hoot desperately needed to talk to someone who believed him. In the video clip below, Floyd and Patricia Carlson talk about why they believe that Hoot and the crew were telling the truth from the start. Like many other passengers aboard TWA 841, they still see the crew as heroes.
I dated Hoot casually in 1980/1981. A conversation I was having today about TWA took me back to then, and to this incident. I do know that the investigation was really rough on him, and that he is one hell of a pilot! I flew with him on numerous occaisons in his private plane and always felt very safe. Would love to track him down!