From Lake Publishing comes the dramatic and emotional story of American heroes who emerged from the first “deadliest year” for passenger aviation in the United States.
“Imagine if a loaded passenger plane flying today between two major cities in the United States simply disappeared and nobody could find it? It happened, after a devastating year and a deadly month of plane crashes, in the final hours of December 1951.”
--Tim Lake, from HANG ON AND FLY
“HANG ON AND FLY is North America’s ALIVE, 20 years earlier.”
--Bill Shull, author of Philadelphia Television
“This is one book you can’t put down.”
--CDR. Donald Budrejko, US Navy Aviator (Ret.)
HANG ON AND FLY
Journalist Tim Lake debuts with historical narrative nonfiction and an emotional and riveting account of the most extraordinary year in American passenger aviation history. 1951 was the juncture for imposing new safety regulations on the upstart and turbulent post-war passenger airlines. It was the deadliest year-to-date for airplanes, filled with the first bargain-fare passengers, crashing an astonishing three and four times per month. Air travelers in the United States today (848 million) owe their safety to the dramatic and heroic events of this era. HANG ON AND FLY (October 18, 2015) presents an exhaustively researched and intimate portrayal of the forgotten gallant heroes and policy makers who emerged from this landmark year when airplanes surpassed trains to become America’s most popular means of public transportation. HANG ON AND FLY: A Post-War Story of Plane Crash Tragedies, Heroism, and Survival features the struggle of Pearl, George, and Lt. Bischof riding in a C-46 passenger plane when it crashes into a wooded ridge in New York State’s Allegheny Mountains. Five hours late on a cold winter flight from Miami to Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and flying off regulations by newly trained pilots distracted by marital problems, the crash of Continental Charters Flight 44-2 kills twenty-six, including all four pilots. Fourteen others are the largest group of airplane crash survivors stranded for a long period of time in North America without rescue. Following the leadership of Pearl, George, and Lt. Bischof, they manage to build a small shelter; they argue over their meager food supply, and one commits a criminal act upon the dead. A multi-state, two-nation search can’t find the missing plane. When rescuers don’t arrive after two nights of freezing temperatures, the desperate survivors send a man down the mountain to find help. When the hero passenger emerges from the snow-filled woods on New Year’s Eve to find Ruby, a farmer’s wife with a deadly secret of her own, their contrasting lives become deeply intertwined leading to more tragedy on the plane crash mountain.
With this most spectacular event capping off the deadliest year in passenger aviation, orders are immediately sent from the White House to stop the plane crash carnage. But, as the nation’s top aviation policy chief makes his first visit to a crash scene and fast-tracks new safety regulations on the pernicious non-scheduled airlines, more planes crash into heavily populated neighborhoods of Elizabeth, New Jersey, killing a VIP friend of the President and shutting down Newark Airport for months. It’s a recipe for political unrest, fear, and panic at a time of accelerated growth for airports and aviation.
Rich with emotion and crisply narrated, HANG ON AND FLY takes us inside the war surplus cargo planes hastily refitted for passengers eager to fly America’s exciting new mode of transportation in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It’s the origin of our belief that we’re always safest in the back of the plane; it inspired Hollywood’s Airplane movie genre, and it led to many of the aviation safety regulations we all take for granted today. All travelers boarding planes in the United States today owe their unprecedented and eminent measure of safety to the dramatic events expertly portrayed in HANG ON AND FLY.
About the Author:
Tim Lake is the author of Association Island, and Henderson Harbor, short historical nonfiction books about General Electric’s unique 50-year summer island resort in Lake Ontario. He has been a newspaper reporter and radio and television news anchor, for many years at WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, and currently at WTEN-TV, Albany, New York.
HANG ON AND FLY: A Post-War Story of Plane Crash Tragedies, Heroism, and Survival