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Aviation Oddities and Near Misses with James Fallows

Season 1, Ep. 71

James Fallows on What is Happening in the Sky 


It’s been an eventful few months for flying objects. A Chinese spy balloon captured national attention and sparked an international incident--and a lot of hot air. But closer to the ground, there have been two near collisions of commercial jets at U.S. airports.


This week, Shane talks to journalist (and pilot) James Fallows about “What the hell is happening in the sky?” to borrow from one of his recent posts. Fallows has been chronicling American life for decades, most notably as a longtime correspondent for The Atlantic. Now he’s writing about aviation, spy balloons, politics, and whatever else catches his observant eye on his new site, “Breaking the News,” hosted on Substack. 


Fallows talked about the two near misses at Austin airport and JFK, which could have led to a catastrophic loss of human life, and how an overburdened commercial aviation system may be poised for a disaster. He shared his insights about the Chinese spy balloon kerfuffle, informed in part from his time living in China as a correspondent. And Fallows reflected on the life and legacy of President Jimmy Carter, for whom he wrote speeches at the White House. 


“What the Hell is Happening in the Sky?” Fallows recent post on his new Substack page https://fallows.substack.com/p/what-the-hell-is-happening-in-the 


Fallows on Twitter https://twitter.com/JamesFallows?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor 


Fallows’ archive at The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/author/james-fallows/ 


And his recent reflections on Jimmy Carter’s lucky life https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/jimmy-carter-accomplishments-james-fallows/673146/ 


Books about flying discussed on this episode include: 


West with the Night: A Memoir by Beryl Markham https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780865477636/westwiththenight  


Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fate-is-the-Hunter/Ernest-K-Gann/9780671636036 


Inside the Sky, among others, by William Langewiesche https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/16660/william-langewiesche/ 


Chatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Ian Enright of Goat Rodeo.


Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.


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