As an aviation fiction writer, I’m continually looking for plot lines and scenarios to include in my novels. Of course, non-fiction writers just report the facts. Sometimes you could describe the same scenario in either genre. For instance, what if (my favorite fiction question) a flight crew forgot to turn on the anti-ice for approach and the wings loaded up and stalled? What if they botched the recovery and crashed into someone’s house. Fact or fiction? (Colgan Air Buffalo, N.Y.)
What if a flight crew had to make an approach to an international airport without the aid of an ILS? What if the runway was nice and long and the weather was good. What if they came up ten feet short and destroyed the airplane? Fact or fiction? (Asiana San Francisco)
What if a flight crew, flying a modern 747, landed and then noticed that the Flight Management Computer indicated nine miles to destination? Oops, wrong airport! Fact or fiction? (Wichita )
What if an international flight crew stalled an Airbus at altitude and had 37,000 feet to work with, but failed to recover? Fact or fiction? (Air France)
What if a flight crew, flying a Boeing 737, made a missed approach (their second in as many tries) and stalled without recovery. Fact or fiction? (Russia this week)
How about a UPS Airbus clipping a hill on approach to Birmingham. Why do we need imagination to write fiction? Just read the newspaper. Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article about an upcoming FAA report on automation and pilot performance. Here’s a quote, “Among the accidents and certain categories of incidents that were examined, roughly two-thirds of the pilots either had difficulty manually flying planes or made mistakes using flight computers.” Well, duh. Is there some other option I’m not aware of? The heck with making stuff up, I’m just gonna plagiarize the newspaper reports. Of course, I’d be criticized for writing scenarios that would not be plausible.