4Airplanes Need Pilots, Not Janitors

The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.

—Benjamin Franklin

If you were flying into Miami on Eastern Airlines flight 401 the night of December 29, 1972, nothing would have alerted you that a problem was brewing. Members of the flight crew were making their last rounds, ensuring that seat backs were forward, carry-on luggage was safely stowed beneath the seats, and tray tables were upright and in their locked position. With the lights of Miami dancing below you, there was nothing unusual about this scene—no cause for concern. But as the ground grew closer, your descent was suddenly interrupted by the plane’s three engines as they roared to life, pushing you back into your seat, and ...

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