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William Hoffer and Marilyn Mona Hoffer

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart (St. Martin's Press), 1989. 263pp, cloth, $24.95
ISBN 0-312-02919-5. (A Thomas Dunne book).

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Lynne McAvoy.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

Freefall recounts the true-life adventure that took place in July 1983 on Air Canada flight 143. This routine flight from Montreal and Ottawa to Edmonton started out with minor problems, which, as it turned out, should have had the $40 million Boeing 767 grounded in Montreal. Instead, due to an empty fuel tank, the plane was forced to land at an inactive Royal Canadian Air Force base near Gimli, Manitoba.

This story examines the human side of the airline disaster. It explores in depth the pilot's and the crew's reactions as they were made aware of the situation. Some of the passengers' feelings are also explored and each one is made real to us by the authors. Freefall also raises some disturbing questions concerning the safety and practicality of electronically controlled airplanes.

William and Marilyn Mona Hoffer, both freelance journalists, have produced over one thousand magazine articles and nine books, the most famous of which is Midnight Express (New York: Warner Books, 1984).

The book's type is very clear and well spaced and is easy lo read. There are no photographs or illustrations. Freefall reads more like a novel than other traditional non-fiction works, but the writing style is nevertheless a bit cumbersome. In my opinion, the incident, which lasted less than an hour, would have been more effectively dealt with as a magazine article. A synopsis of Freefall in the Ottawa Citizen, for example, captured the essential elements of the book in an interesting and condensed form.

In spite of its flaws, I feel that this book would be a good purchase for a public library.

Lynne McAvoy, Ottawa, Ont.
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