On August 21, 1995, ASA flight 529 left Atlanta for Gulfport, Miss., a short flight it would not complete. Shortly after takeoff, the left engine exploded, and the plane began to fall. Nineteen of the 29 people on board survived the crash. Journalist Gary Pomerantz tells the story of flight 529, its passengers, and crew, in his book, "Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds."
The book began as a series of articles written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"When the crash happened, I was a writer for the AJC, not covering the crash or its aftermath. But I thought it was a remarkable story. These people had 9 minutes and 20 seconds in which to contemplate their fate, to reckon with themselves and their lives. I wondered what they thought about, what went through their minds. The plane crashed in someone's backyard, and then the story disappeared from the national media. Two thirds of those aboard survived, and I wondered who they were. How they were. So, two and a half years later, I started making calls." Pomerantz says.
Through this traumatic event, the book reveals not just the passengers and crew's will to survive, but a will to care for others.
"Three men had to run through fire, and delayed escape to help Jim Kennedy (who eventually died from burns). And the people whose homes ring the field--they didn't think about themselves when they went to help. They were shocked too, by how wonderful people are. Of course, this is how they react, they think now...But I don't know that they would have predicted that. As a nation, we worship celebrity. But it's goodness that's at the center of this story," he says.