Reviews – Flight 111

“Kimber…at his best…tightly drawn vignettes depicting the utter normality that is shattered for thousands by the disaster…gladden[s] the heart even as the tears well up. But for all the emotion Kimber doesn’t allow Flight 111 to descend into sentimentality.”

— The Globe and Mail

“Deftly recreates the events leading up to the crash, along with its aftermath, and puts a much-needed human face on the incident.”

—The Ottawa Citizen

 About the 2013 Edition:

Kimber revisits the Flight 111 tragedy 15 years later

Times & Transcript (Moncton)
Fri Nov 14 2014

Authored by journalist and broadcaster Stephen Kimber of Halifax, Flight 111: A Year in the Life of a Tragedy was actually written as a mass-market paperback and released in 1999. The original publisher has since given up its interest in the book, so when Kimber was approached by Nimbus Publishing to produce a 15th anniversary edition, he agreed.

“Obviously at the end of the first year, certain things hadn’t happened yet, and many of the characters in the book clearly had been around for 15 more years,” Kimber says. “What had happened to them? Some of them were going to settle in Nova Scotia, so did they?

“It was interesting for me to go back and update some of that information ….”

A former director of the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College and now holding the Rogers Communications Chair at King’s, Flight 111 shows what it’s like for people left behind by this kind of tragedy.

Flight 111 is “in a larger sense” a story about the aftermath of the tragedy, and how people deal with it. This not only means the family and friends of those killed but also the fisherman who went out that first night looking for survivors, first responders, search and rescue/recovery personnel, investigators and Nova Scotians in general. Many opened their hearts and homes to the victims’ families who travelled to Nova Scotia.

Kimber says that about 6,000 individuals sought counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder after the crash, most of them people who had worked in post-crash roles but also “ordinary citizens who got quite caught up in all of this and were profoundly affected by it.” That number has risen still higher during the intervening years.

Available both online and in bookstores, Flight 111 is 336 pages in length.

There are many heart-wrenching stories in the book, including the passage that Kimber shares from the section of the book about the immediate aftermath of the crash and how Lyn Romano, whose husband died in the crash, realized he was on the plane:

“Lyn Romano stared at the number on the screen. 1-800-. She knew she should call. Upstairs. In her purse. The itinerary. She should go get it first. Then she’d know for sure. She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to call either.

“Ray would be telephoning her in a few hours. From his room in Geneva. He’d be pissed when he found out. He’d say she was overreacting. Again. There it was again. On the TV. Swissair…. Crash…. Flight from New York to Geneva…. She’d flipped on the late news a few hours earlier before she went to bed, more out of habit than anything. And there it was. Oh my God, she thought absently, another plane crash. She hated flying…. Swissair…. Wait a minute! Ray was flying Swissair. Ray….”

Linda Hersey Linda Hersey’s By the Book, profiling local authors and their works, appears every Friday.

© 2014 Times & Transcript (Moncton)