The twin jet plane en route to Denver from Hong Kong is merely a green radar blip half an hour off the California coast when the call comes through to air traffic control:
‘Socal Approach, this is TransPacific 545. We have an emergency.’ The pilot requests priority clearance to land – then comes the bombshell – he needs forty ambulances on the runway.
But nothing prepares the rescue workers for the carnage they witness when they enter the plane.
Ninety-four passengers are injured. Three dead. The interior cabin virtually destroyed.
What happened on board Flight TPA 545?
I always loved those TV shows with aircraft disasters so when I read the description of this book, it was impossible not to put it in my cart. And I did like it, but honestly, not as much as I thought I would. Probably if it would have been at least a hundred pages shorter, the whole reading experience would have been much more enjoyable. But the way it is, I just found it to have way, way too many technical details for a casual reader. Of course, whenever a writer is choosing a topic that he’s not familiar with, he needs to gather as much information as possible in order to deliver a realistic story. But I feel like Michael Crichton overdid it in Airframe. Probably the people working as pilots or in aircraft engineering would find the book extremely accurate and realistic. But a normal reader will be completely lost in the never ending load of acronyms and technical items and aircraft pieces, no matter how well the author tried to explain them. It’s just too much and with every new details your interest drops a little.
Yes, I finished the book and no, it wasn’t a disappointment. But I honestly felt it more like a burden than a pleasure, since for every good twist you have to pay by enduring pages of useless details.
The last quarter of the novel starts having a faster rhythm, the accent falls more and more on the action instead of descriptions so you will probably find yourself reading it with more curiosity and excitement.
I can’t talk about the characters, because they felt more like chess pawns arranged in a way meant to deliver the storyline. We get a minimum amount of information about them, as the whole attention is centered mainly around the events. I got the sensation that the investigation of what happened on the Flight TPA 545 is both the story and the main character of the book and not the persons involved in it.
Airframe is a pretty good story but be warned that you need to prepare your mind with all the patience you can possibly gather in order to get over the scores and scores of technical terms to really get to enjoy the book.