Aircraft Accidents and Documentaries

Aircraft accident documentaries are funny things; not humorous funny, but strange. Having participated as the NTSB team leader in several accidents, I was asked to be videoed for the Air Midwest 5481 accident; to explain my part in the investigation. It was odd watching myself, but I felt I succeeded in walking the viewer through the tedium of my job.
Then I asked a friend about an international accident I had worked and he pointed me to the proper Youtube video.
It was surreal; I kept asking myself, “Is this the accident I worked?” Not even close. I won’t name the accident because the ‘hero’ investigator is not a bad guy. The U.S. ‘investigator-in-charge’, however, is a bag of rocks (my apologies to the Bag of Rocks Association), especially on the subject of maintenance. I kept expecting to hear the theme from Jaws or after every ‘revelation’ a foreboding dun-dun-du-u-u-n. The tension was absurd.
I looked again at the Air Midwest documentary and realized that it, too, tended toward overacting and overreacting on part of the NTSB people and the cast; a back-slapping fest feeding more attention to those falsely credited with having an idea than to the unbelievable stupidity that caused the accident to begin with.
Why do we present documentaries on tragedies? They aren’t about finding Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. They’re about real people who became real victims; family and friends thrust into a roller coaster of hope and hopelessness; about professionals trying to find out why and not worrying about who gets the credit.
I purposely omitted in my novels the human suffering, the ‘rubbernecking’ type of writing because it isn’t necessary. It speaks better to allow the reader to fill in the blanks if they choose; anything gratuitous adds nothing to a story.
I understand that a show needs to appeal to a wide audience; that if one were to accurately portray an investigator like me it would be akin to watching a continent drift. However, we are talking about human tragedy on a large scale; hundreds of lives lost in seconds, in many cases in pain and fear. Is it right to treat such events as entertainment?

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