Wednesday, May 13, 2020


Interview with Emilio Corsetti II Author of 35 MILES FROM SHORE: THE DITCHING AND RESCUE OF ALM FLIGHT 980 @emiliocorsetti #Interview

Thirty-five miles off the coast of St. Croix, sitting beneath some five thousand feet of water, lies the most unlikely of wrecks. It is not the wreck of an ocean liner or a Spanish galleon or a fishing boat caught in an unexpected storm. This wreck is that of a passenger jet. The exact condition of the aircraft is unknown. It has remained unseen in the dark depths of the Caribbean Sea for more than thirty years. What is known is the condition of the aircraft before it sank.”

From 35 Miles From Shore by Emilio Corsetti III

Book Description:

On May 2, 1970, a DC-9 jet departed New York’s JFK international airport en route to the tropical island of St. Maarten. The flight ended four hours and thirty-four minutes later in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean. The subsequent rescue of survivors involved the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In this gripping account of that fateful day, author Emilio Corsetti puts the reader inside the cabin, the cockpit, and the rescue helicopters as the crews struggle against the weather to rescue the survivors who have only their life vests and a lone escape chute to keep them afloat.


Welcome, Emilio!  Your nonfiction, 35 MILES FROM SHORE, sounds riveting! Can you tell us how you got interested in writing about this particular plane crash?
Emilio: I remember reading the book The Perfect Storm. It was an international best seller and later turned into a film. I thought a story about a commercial jetliner running out of fuel and having to ditch into a turbulent sea was an equally compelling idea. The fact that it was all true made it even more interesting.
Can you tell us a little about the ways you went about researching your subject?
Emilio: I had several advantages that made telling this story possible. First, this story involved a lot of different perspectives. I could tell you what a passenger was thinking as they were awaiting rescue in the water. But I also wanted to know what the rescue pilots and crewmen were thinking as they were performing the rescues. Then there are the stories of the flight crew and the cabin crew. It’s all the same event, but each individual had their own perspective. So, I knew that telling the story would involve tracking all these people down. That’s where the internet played an important role.
The accident occurred in 1970. There was no internet back then. All the individuals who took part in this story had dispersed within days of the incident. No reporter could have tracked them all down. Also, if some resourceful writer were able to track a few people down, it would have been too soon to get honest responses if they responded at all. I had the benefit of technology and time on my side.
I had one other advantage that few writers have. I am a pilot with free travel benefits. I was able to fly to numerous locations in the U.S. and Caribbean to conduct in person interviews.

Can you tell us a little about your conversation with Balsey DeWitt?

Emilio: The captain, Balsey DeWitt, was the very first person I was able to track down. I flew to New York to interview him. I stayed in his house. I recorded all my interviews. When I got back home, I started going through the hours of audio I had. I knew that this was a compelling story, but I also knew that it would require a lot of work. I didn’t know that it would take more than three years to get to a first draft. I still stay in contact with Balsey and his wife Edith.
What part of your book did you find the most exciting to write about?
Emilio: Everything involving the ditching and rescue was fun to write. From the moment the reader knows that things have taken a turn for the worse, the drama of the event is nonstop. There is no stopping to tell someone’s backstory. That was handled up front. Every chapter in this section ends with a cliff hanger that propels you forward to the next chapter. I can pick this book up today, having read it a dozen times or more, and I still am drawn into the drama of the life and death struggle.
How did it make you feel to write ‘The End’?
Emilio: It was an arduous process that didn’t end when I completed the first draft. But I did have the satisfaction of knowing that I had something that had the potential to be great.

Did you want to become a writer when you were a kid or did that come later?

Emilio: I started later in life. I was a regular contributor to an aviation periodical before this book.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?
Emilio: The incident described in the book occurred fifty years ago this May. There have been several other aircraft ditchings since then, most notably USAir Flight 1549. If you like stories of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances, this book is for you.

Author Website & Social Media Links:

Blog: (dedicated website)

1 comment:

Emilio said...

Thanks for the interview. Emilio

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