Fly by Wire

  • by William Langewiesche
  • Narrated by David Drummond
  • 6 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

On January 15, 2009, a US Airways Airbus A320 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport in New York when a flock of Canada Geese collided with it, destroying both of its engines. Over the next three minutes, the plane's pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, managed to glide it to a safe landing in the Hudson River. It was an instant media sensation---the "Miracle on the Hudson"---and Captain Sully was the hero.
But how much of the success of this dramatic landing can actually be credited to the genius of the pilot? To what extent is the "miracle" on the Hudson the result of extraordinary---but not widely known, and in some cases quite controversial---advances in aviation and computer technology over the past 20 years?
In Fly by Wire, journalist William Langewiesche takes us on a strange and unexpected journey into the fascinating world of advanced aviation. From the testing laboratories where engineers struggle to build a jet engine that can systematically resist bird attacks, through the creation of the A320 in France, to the political and social forces that have sought to minimize the impact of the revolutionary fly-by-wire technology, William Langewiesche assembles the untold stories necessary to truly understand the "miracle" on the Hudson, and makes us question our assumptions about human beings in modern aviation.


Audible Editor Reviews

In 2009, a minute and a half after takeoff, a US Airways Airbus collided with a flock of geese, leaving its engines destroyed. In less than three minutes, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger managed to glide the plane to safety in the Hudson River. William Langewiesche explores how much of the "Miracle on the Hudson" was due to advances in technology rather than Sullenberger's ability, using this event as a starting point for his insightful analysis of the changing world of commercial aviation.
Award-winning narrator David Drummond's unrushed performance is casually informative, making technical descriptions easy for listeners to grasp. Drummond also picks up on Langewiesche's sly humor, especially in the chapter on goose behavior.


What the Critics Say

"In this expertly researched book, rendered in spare, pitch-perfect prose, Langewiesche has turned a feel-good tabloid story into an enduring work of literature." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Abridgement

This is Langewiesche's "take" on the miracle pilots Sullenberger and Skiles and their Hudson River landing. I got more than I expected out of the deal. After you finish with this wonderful book you have been introduced to Kitty Hawk, aircraft engineering and design, the life of pilots, airline economics and all manner of things airline related.

This book is well written, will keep your attention, informs the listener throughout, and Drummond's reading is great. Even if you have absolutely no interest in airliners or "The Miracle on the Hudson" pick this one up. You'll be a better informed traveler.
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- Roy


Every time I read one of Langewiesche's "pilot books" I feel much calmer about flying. Going on a commercial airline flight is about the safest thing we can ever do. Particularly if we are flying on a big modern jet. The story of how the career of an airline pilot has morphed from a high-status / high-pay profession to one barely paying professional wages is particularly dispiriting. Apparently, nobody likes working for the "legacy" carriers - one of the reasons why nobody likes flying them either. If you think you know the whole story about that famous landing in the Hudson (I did), than you are in for a treat. Langewiesche uses this freak event to tell a much bigger, and much more important, story about how airplanes and the airline business has changed.
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- Joshua Kim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-14-2009
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio