Why Do Modern Planes Still Crash?

Described as "CSI for aviation enthusiasts", each book of this compelling series features eleven detailed walk-throughs of real aviation emergencies. Why Planes Crash offers an exciting and compelling look at the critical moments which define an aviation accident, explaining both the how and the why of catastrophic accidents in modern times.

Casefiles: 2001

Incidents Covered in the Series

A selection of chapters from 2001 to 2004


Lost in the Fog

A small Cessna took a wrong turn in a large airport. The controller never realised and in the fog, no one could see it. By the time the departing Scandinavian 686 saw the Cessna in its path, it was much too late.


It Looked Like a Bomb

When the aircraft disintegrated over Queens in 2001, it's no surprise that everyone's first thought was terrorism. How could they have guessed that a badly trained pilot was actually capable of pulling the tail off the aircraft?


Disaster at the Airshow

Poor planning and cut costs led to the deadliest air show accident in history when a Sukhoi Su-27 rolled into the crowd. The pilots were sent to prison but they swear it was not their fault.


Number One to Land

Training airfields often have many aircraft in the circuit but with varying speeds and heights, it was easy for these two aircraft to miss each other; until one touched down on top of the other on the runway.


Against the Odds

Move over Sully! With no engines and no power, the Boeing 737 captain's only option was to find the safest place to ditch. As they broke free of the clouds, he saw the Bengawan Solo River and knew he had only one chance.


Mid-Air Collision

The two aircraft transiting the same airspace at 36,000 feet should never have come near each other. But the combination of problems at Zürich air traffic control and poor flight training at Bashkirian Airlines lead to the deaths of all crew and passengers.


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What Readers are Saying

Here’s what the Chief Test Pilot of the Harrier Jump Jet had to say

The author has done a remarkable job in not only researching the evidence of the accidents she covers and in putting across the problems of an investigation, but she has managed to do this in a way that will interest and appeal to a wide range of readers.

John Farley OBE

Author of View from the Hover: My Life in Aviation

For those aviation enthusiasts that wish to delve beyond the sensationalist headlines on aviation accidents Sylvia Wrigley's "Why Planes Crash" will satisfy their needs. Informative, critical and insightful.

Hal Stoen

Stoneworks Aviation

Planes crash for many many reasons, but in our modern media, a complex outcome is usually boiled down to a sound bite (pilot error, for example). Sylvia has gone past this facade and examined in understandable detail the many factors that led to in some examples, their inevitable end. An excellent read for the average man in the street and professional pilot alike, and I'm looking forward to the next book!

Mark Nolan

The author has done an admirable job in dissecting crashes with the care and attention-to-detail of a trained forensic investigator. She starts well before the final crash sequence, and examines factors leading up to the final impact. The book is imminently readable, and the fact that it is not full of technical jargon will make it attractive to non-aviators as well as flyers alike.

John Sapienza

amazon I am a pilot of light aircraft but I don't think any non-pilots should shy away from this book. It gives an interesting and obviously well-researched insight into how easily things can go wrong in the air, and how simple mistakes can aggregate, sometimes fatally. I shall never think about air traffic control in the same way again - and if you fly yourself, neither should you. An excellent and enjoyable read, I didn't want it to end.

amazon Great read. Good book.

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Buy the Books

Case Files: 2001

$299/ Per Copy
  • Lost in the Fog
  • Using Propellers as an Airbrake
  • Nose Down into the Runway
  • Snow in the Engine
  • Can You See What I See?
  • Turning into the Dead Engine
  • Collision Course Over Tokyo
  • Unexpected Spin
  • When One Engine Isn’t Enough
  • Twin Towers
  • When the Simulator Lies

Case Files: 2002

$399/ Per Copy
  • Disaster at the Air Show
  • Suicide by Plane
  • I Have Control—Air China Flight 129
  • Exploding Passenger
  • Out of the Frying Pan
  • Flying Into the Heart of the Storm
  • Number 1 on Final for Moorabbin
  • How to Break a Passenger Plane
  • L-39 Ejected on the Ground
  • Right Before Their Eyes
  • Midair Collision

Case Files: 2003

$549/ Per Copy
  • The Unstallable Plane
  • Phone Interfering with Flight
  • Solved by DNA
  • Maintenance Shorftcuts
  • Stolen Boeing
  • Struck by Lightning
  • And Then the Windshield Exploded
  • Shot Down over Baghdad
  • The Wing Fell Off
  • Engine Failure on Take-Off
  • A Cascade of Errors

About the Author


Sylvia Wrigley

SYLVIA WRIGLEY is a pilot and aviation writer who has been obsessing about aviation investigations in public for over a decade.

She’s worked across all modern media including:

contributor to BBC News, The Guardian, Piper Flyer and Forbes
aviation expert on the Discovery Channel series Air Crash Confidential, the Russian Channel 1 news, French Channel M6 Disparition du vol MH370 and ntv.ru Central Television program.
creator of and sole contributor to Fear of Landing
Aviation Books
author of You Fly Like a Woman, The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, Why Planes Crash series.

Her website fearoflanding.com continues to be a popular reference for aviation accidents, investigations and history, with over 150,000 unique readers in 2015. She'd love it if you came to visit.


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