In Etzil’s debut thriller, an off-duty pilot may be the only passenger on Flight 2262 that can prevent it from crashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Vacationing airline pilot Kevin McSorley is looking forward to spending six nights in Hawaii with his girlfriend, Margie. But the five-hour flight from Los Angeles is doomed from the start, as a man named Nasir Kalib has rigged the airliner with C-4 explosive. Kalib, who blames Americans for bombing his village in his native Afghanistan, has been living in the United States for more than a decade, plotting his revenge. Luckily, the resulting, midflight explosion doesn’t obliterate the airliner, and the autopilot kicks in, so that it doesn’t immediately plummet. But Kevin estimates that there are only four hours of fuel remaining, at which point the plane, on its current course, will still be above the ocean. Kevin needs to get past the seemingly impenetrable cockpit door and, if necessary, take the controls. But he must contend with a bullheaded air marshal on board, as well as scared passengers. However, he gets help from a former aviation mechanic and a CIA analyst named Jack Lamburt to manually pilot the airliner to land—or as close to land as he can get. In this series starter, Etzil generates suspense with a countdown of the remaining time to the explosive “event,” which later becomes the time remaining until the fuel is gone. The story scrupulously establishes its major characters, including Jack, Kalib, and flight attendant Carol. But the book truly shines after the major action begins, with frenzied passengers, an unexpected death, and a loaded gun in the mix. Longtime pilot Etzil’s aviation expertise adds realism without slowing things down; for instance, he succinctly details the specifics about the potential failure of the autopilot, making the danger abundantly clear. But although the author does develop his female characters, their physical descriptions repeatedly zero in on their breasts. At one point, Kevin even thinks about how he “read in a magazine once” that women feel empowered by men gazing at their chests.
A suspenseful and action-packed, if sometimes-problematic, aviation tale.