September 1962: On a moonless night over the raging Atlantic Ocean, a thousand miles from land, the engines of Flying Tiger flight 923 to Germany burst into flames, one by one.
Pilot John Murray didn’t have long before the plane crashed headlong into the 20-foot waves at 120 mph.
As the four flight attendants donned life vests, collected sharp objects, and explained how to brace for the ferocious impact, 68 passengers clung to their seats: elementary schoolchildren from Hawaii, a teenage newlywed from Germany, a disabled Normandy vet from Cape Cod, an
immigrant from Mexico, and 30 recent graduates of the 82nd Airborne’s Jump School. They all expected to die.
Murray radioed out “Mayday” as he attempted to fly down through gale-force winds into the rough water, hoping the plane didn’t break apart when it hit the sea.
Only a handful of ships could pick up the distress call so far from land. The closest was a Swiss freighter 13 hours away. Dozens of other ships and planes from nine countries abruptly changed course or scrambled from Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and Cornwall, all racing to the rescue—but they would take hours, or days, to arrive.
From the cockpit, the blackness of the Atlantic grew ever closer. Could Murray do what no pilot had ever done—“land” a commercial airliner at night in a violent sea without everyone dying? And if he did, would rescuers find any survivors before they drowned or died from hypothermia in the icy water?
The fate of Flying Tiger 923 riveted the world. Bulletins interrupted radio and TV programs. Headlines shouted off newspapers from London to LA. Frantic family members overwhelmed telephone switchboards. President Kennedy took a break from the brewing crises in Cuba and Mississippi to ask for hourly updates.
Tiger in the Sea is a gripping tale of triumph, tragedy, unparalleled airmanship, and incredibly brave people from all walks of life. The author has pieced together the story—long hidden because of murky Cold War politics—through exhaustive research and reconstructed a true and inspiring tribute to the virtues of outside-the-box-thinking, teamwork, and hope.
In 2009 Eric Lindner became a hospice volunteer, helping patients cope with the reality of dying. His book Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life was critically acclaimed by leading doctors and caregivers, NPR, BBC, Washington Independent Review of Books, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist’s Rebecca Vnuk, who named it one of 2013’s five best memoirs. Since 2015 the attorney, businessman, and DC native has been teaching Ethics in Action at Georgetown University, a course that dissects the NASA Challenger disaster. He’s married to Captain Murray’s daughter; they live on California’s Central Coast.
“Lindner recounts the action in crisp, colorful prose and skillfully interweaves the perspectives of multiple passengers and crew members, their family members, and people who took part in the rescue operation.”—Publishers Weekly
"In late September 1962, the dramatic ditching of Flying Tiger flight 923 riveted the world. But it was soon eclipsed by the harrowing Cuban Missile Crisis in October. After someone made off with all the official U.S. records, the story was swept into the dustbin of history. Until now: Tiger 923’s pilot’s son-in-law has written a book. By all accounts, it could be the next Unbroken." —Skal USA Journeys
“Breathtaking! Forty-seven years before Sully’s Hudson River feat, what John Murray did in the Atlantic Ocean stunned the world. The close-ups of how trauma ripples out and impacts people differently are deftly rendered and highly relatable.”—Lee Woodruff, author of three bestsellers, including New York Times #1 In An Instant; co-founder of Stand Up For Heroes
“Tiger in the Sea is one of the most remarkable sagas in the history of commercial aviation. The airmanship, courage, and commitment to duty of Captain Murray and his crew was heroic beyond measure. Their story is well told in this spellbinding book!”—Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, FedEx Corporation (which bought The Flying Tiger Line in 1989)
“This compelling read illustrates leadership and the power of working together with a find-a-way attitude, as it wraps the story of a fearless pilot around intriguing narratives of other courageous people. We need the inspiration of humble, unsung heroes now more than ever!”—Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing and Ford; inductee, International Air & Space Hall of Fame and Automotive Hall of Fame; current director, Alphabet and Mayo Clinic
“A staggering, engrossing tale of ingenuity, faith and fierce determination."—Mike McCurry, former White House Press Secretary; professor/director, Center for Public Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary
“Unputdownable! That anyone survived is a miracle and tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. What the men, women and children of Flying Tiger 923 endured is unforgettable, their bravery extraordinarily moving.”—Robert Goolrick, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller A Reliable Wife and The End of the World as We Know it: Scenes from a Life
“A riveting story of heroism and survival. Lindner does an amazing job of capturing the most harrowing experience anyone can go through—an aircraft ditching at sea. Using the diverse voices and personal backgrounds of the passengers and crew, he weaves a rich tapestry that makes the reader part of the ordeal rather than just an observer.”—Michael G. Walling, former Coast Guard officer; author, In the Event of a Water Landing
“Once I started reading Tiger in the Sea, I was unable to put it down. From the first page it put me in the cockpit of a Connie - the smell, the noise, the ever present work stress for the flight and cabin crews, even when the trip is going well. Lindner has really captured the "feel" of what it's like to sit in an old Tiger aircraft, miles above the North Atlantic on a moonless night, far from land, without modern tools but with a multitude of serious problems to deal with all at the same time: mechanical issues, hail, high winds, and the crew’s own human error. The vibration and noise, scent of tobacco, and feel of worn out seat cushions mingle in the air with the professional swagger of the crew who possess that essential aura of experience needed to deal with a completely unexpected situation. I was absolutely captivated!”—Capt. John Dickson, 38-year FTL/FedEx pilot (retired); president of the Flying Tiger Line Pilots Association
“No automation here, just pure guts. It is a perfect tale for our time, perfectly told. An irresistible page-turner.”—Jack Hersch, author of The Dangers of Automation in Airliners and Death March Escape
“This gripping story of hope, valor and grit transfixes the reader. It is exceptionally well researched. This captivating book is not just timely but timeless.” —Kristin Meekhof, resilience expert and author of the bestselling A Widow’s Guide to Healing
“The author’s exhaustive research and historic accuracies are impressive, particularly to aviation-literate readers. His coverage of the political climate at the time and the context of the aircraft, its crew, and its passengers are truly remarkable. The ongoing nature and impact of this seminal event on the extended families and their awe-inspiring responses beyond the physical and mental wounds, and suffering, leave you awestruck, perhaps like myself, to the point of following their plight even beyond the book itself.” —Gilbert!Magazine