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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hoot Gibson

Friday's Fabulous Flyer 

Hoot Gibson

The following excerpt is from a fabulous book I recently read (and endorsed) about an aviation hero who saved the plane and passengers, but spent the remainder of his life attempting to clear his name. Scapegoat is the book, Hoot Gibson is the pilot, and this is a story that you must read.  Pilot error is most often the cause when an accident occurs. But when a botched investigation and misrepresentation of facts hangs a hero, there is no justice. 

Emilio is the author (and we'll learn more about him next week). But today enjoy the Friday Flyer of the century who must be returned to hero status. Like many pilots of his day, his love affair with aviation began early. He never quit flying, even when the industry quit him.

"Hoot grew up on a small farm in Illinois about seventy-five miles west of Chicago. The eldest of three children, Hoot took his first airplane ride around the age of five when a barnstormer landed in a field on his father’s farm. It was a two-seater biplane, with the pilot sitting in the back.
As a teenager, Hoot rode his pony to the local airport three to four miles away. He washed airplanes in exchange for airplane rides. A local crop-dusting pilot offered to take Hoot flying in exchange for helping him with his crop-dusting work. Hoot had the unenviable job of standing in a field with a flag raised above his head.

The crop duster would fly over Hoot and then start spraying the four or five rows of whatever crop was growing. Hoot then scurried over four or five rows for the next pass. Hoot would later joke that inhaling the crop-dusting spray had stunted his growth, which pegged out at five-foot-six.

When he had no pilots to pester, Hoot would hang around the mechanics while they worked on planes. He convinced one mechanic to let him taxi an old Taylor Cub. Hoot claimed that he eventually got the Cub going fast enough that he was able to lift it off the ground for a few hundred feet, about the same distance as the Wright Brothers’ first flight. That’s when he got serious about wanting to learn how to fly. He soloed at age fourteen, having lied about his age." 

April 4, 1979
A 727 flying at 39,000 feet, falls from the sky.  Within seconds of impact, Captain Hoot Gibson and his crew save the aircraft and all passengers on board, only to be blamed for the incident. Despite all the evidence pointing to a malfunctioning aircraft, Hoot lived his final days fighting to save his reputation. 

Author's Note: 

When TWA 841 departed JFK on April 4, 1979, no one on board had any idea of the drama that would soon unfold. One passenger, traveling with her husband, wrote in a journal about the smooth takeoff. She had been keeping a personal journal of her travels to share with her children on her return. She documented everything down to the most inconsequential detail such as her ears popping as the aircraft climbed. 

A Video Worth Watching

Days, weeks, and years later, after TWA 841 had become the subject of one of the longest NTSB investigations in the agency’s history, investigators would scrutinize every minute of the flight in a similarly detailed manner. Much like a criminal investigation, the movements, actions, and whereabouts of each crew member were documented. Routine tasks such as when and where the meal trays were exchanged between the cockpit and cabin crew would take on added significance. Unraveling the mystery of TWA 841 was a monumental puzzle that needed to be solved. But unlike any accident investigation before or since, the same evidence investigators would use against the crew would be used by others to challenge the theories put forth by Boeing and the NTSB. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to which version is correct.

This is a book of Hoots life, his journey through aviation, and his fall from the sky and much deserved fame.  If you check out the comments on Amazon you'll see a comment from one of his passengers from that flight. I loved this book. The story is riveting. The writing is exceptional. My only complaint is that Hoot passed away January 2015, and I am unable to tell him he will always be a hero.

 If you email Emilio at
you can add your name to the list for a drawing of 
a free ebook or audio.

No matter how you get the book,
this is a story you will want on your shelf! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Author of:


  1. My dad knew him from LAX. Dad retired after 42 yrs in the communications department at LAX in 1978. But he was always flying SA with my mom.

    1. Wow!! That's very cool. You will love the book!!

  2. Karlene, thanks for the great write up on Hoot. Nice touch with the crop dusting photos. Hoot would have loved all the attention he's receiving.

    1. You are so welcome. And thank you for writing an incredible book!

  3. Thank you Karlene for bringing this incredible man and story to mu attention.
    I would love to read more!

    1. You're welcome An, and you will read more. Kind of reminds me of a story of another kind. Truth must always ring true!

  4. Just like how they tried to make Sully a scapegoat after saving people by ditching in the Hudson River. I'm glad Sully was able to clear his name, it is truly heartbreaking that Hoot passed away with a wrong accusation hanging over his name. I hope he was able to take some solace in the fact that 82 passengers and 7 crew were able to make it home because of his actions. God bless him and the rest of the flight crew.


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