Macarthur Job’s Air Disaster is now out as a Kindle eBook. It’s a fascinating read, and a joy to have worked on; it required (obviously) almost no editing, but we did do a lot of research to add in a more human side of the story to go with Macarthur’s outstanding technical knowledge and explication.
For instance, one of the chapters tells the story of this tragedy, aboard a then-revolutionary (and British-built) Vickers Viscount flying from Chicago to Toronto.
Trans-Canada Air Lines – now Air Canada – was an early adopter of this four-engined turboprop. In Macarthur’s words, its ‘introduction… to North American skies was nothing less than epoch-making. The whining power of the vibration-free, smooth-running Rolls-Royce Dart engines was unlike anything experienced before in commercial aviation. Gone were the grunting starts of great radial engines, blowing smoke as they burst into life; gone were the lengthy, pre-takeoff engine run-ups, when the whole aircraft would seem to stamp and shudder like some great angry animal. And in cruising flight, at pressurised altitudes, passengers could relax in an environment free from the continual vibration and engine noise levels of the past.’
As ever, there is a price to pay for every great advance. As one of the Canadian Viscounts – CF-TGR – was flying over Flat Rock, Michigan, on the morning of July 9, 1956, the No. 4 propeller broke away from its engine and one of its blades smashed through the passenger section of the cabin, killing a passenger and injuring several others. The pilot managed to land safely.
This is where most of the accounts – including the wiki entry – end. The full story is a much more shocking and moving one.
The passenger was 31-year-old Mary Carolyn Lippert; she was taking her young sons home from a weekend visit to see their father, a junior neurosurgeon at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The three of them were allocated seats at the front of the aircraft, for Mrs Lippert’s convenience. Unfortunately, this meant she was in the path of the flying propeller when it entered the cabin, and she was decapitated. Her three-year-old, Robbie, was on her lap at the time; his 14-month-old brother, Richard, was by her side.
After a lot of digging, we managed to track down Robbie Lippert and talk to him about the tragedy. He was remarkably unscathed by the experience, even allowing for his age at the time; he put this down to the fact that his father had remarried and that his new ‘mother’ had brought the boys up as her own, while never trying to remove their natural mother from their memories. She was talked about a great deal, and her photograph was always displayed in the house. Here it is, taken shortly before she died, with the endless possibilities of 1950s North America stretching ahead of her:
(Photograph courtesy Mr Robert Lippert)
Theodore Dalrymple’s books continue to sell well – perhaps because he continues to ask important questions, such as this one of Justin Welby and the Church of England:
(D)id the Archbishop himself have a CRB check before he was elevated…?
Here are some links to the Kindle versions of Dalrymple books we’ve published (paper copies are also available in some cases):
Life at the Bottom
Our Culture, What’s Left of It
Not With a Bang But a Whimper
The Wilder Shores of Marx
Fool or Physician (as Anthony Daniels, being a memoir of his early professional life)
Monrovia Mon Amour
Zanzibar to Timbuktu
If Symptoms Persist (early Spectator columns)
Second Opinion (later Spectator columns)
The Examined Life
So Little Done (the latter has one review, a one star, which is amusing)
And – turning to the entirely trivial – there were times when I honestly never thought I’d see the day again (1977 was the last time), but we are 3-0 up in an Ashes series with one to play. I feel for Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, who have bowled their hearts out and have been let down by terrible batting. But is 4-0 too much to hope for?
Michael Clarke is still ‘taking the positives’ – the latest one being that the Australians came within 74 runs of beating England at Chester-le-Street – and King Cricket has some further words of consolation:
It’s not all bad news for Australia though. In Rogers, Clarke and Harris, they’ve unearthed some talented young cricketers for the future.
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