I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up this book. The author, Ken Fortenberry, was the owner and editor-in-chief of News @ Norman, the local newspaper in the town where I grew up. In fact, he was my first editor. The summer before my sophomore year of college, he offered me an internship that would set the stage for my writing career.
During my stint at News @ Norman, I had heard a few details about the event that unfolds in this book. I knew it was a tragedy that had impacted Ken’s life, but it wasn’t until I read “Flight 7 Is Missing: The Search For My Father’s Killer” that I began to understand how significant that impact was.
Ken’s novel explores the disappearance of the Pan Am stratocruiser Romance Of The Skies. His 50+ year search for answers is conducted with the skepticism of a seasoned investigative journalist as he uncovers and dissects every lead he can find. At the same time, he presents the human side of this tragedy in a way that is both gut-wrenching and personal.
Using narratives, interviews, letters, and more, Ken introduces his readers not just to his father (pilot-navigator William Fortenberry), but also the other 43 victims aboard the ill-fated aircraft. Names, backgrounds, pictures… with each turn of the page you get to know the people tied to this tragic story in a way that humanizes it.
By the end, I was just as convinced as the author was of what happened to Romance of the Skies. But more than that, I felt the emotional journey in a way that will linger with me long after I set the book and its (now) tear-stained pages on my shelf. Ken brings the mystery of Pan Am’s lost flight to life in ways that I don’t believe any other author could.
I highly recommend it.