A long time ago I had a flatmate who would obsessively watch a TV show that dissected plane crashes. For years afterwards I would think about an episode that featured a reconstruction of a particular plane crash – a passenger jet had been wrongly weighted, and after take-off, the plane pitched its nose up into the sky and fell back to earth upside-down, crashing over the runway from which it had just taken off. The producers had overlaid the audio from the cockpit voice recorder and reconstructed the crash using information from the flight data recorder.
When writing this piece I was thinking about the near-indestructible black boxes that house these recorders and which capture vast, overlapping streams of information, registering every technical, environmental, and human input that could influence the outcome of a flight with hundreds of people onboard.
With thanks to F-Plus for workshopping and premiering Flight Recorder.