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All Four Engines Have Failed by Betty Tootell in demand after volcanic ash cloud

all-four-engines-have-failed2Over the past seven days, the most searched for book on AbeBooks.co.uk has been All Four Engines Have Failed: True and Triumphant Story of Flight BA 009 and the Jakarta Incident by Betty Tootell.

Never heard of it? That’s not surprising considering the book has been out-of-print for years. BA Flight 9 went from London Heathrow to Auckland, stopping in Bombay, Madras, Kuala Lumpur, Perth, and Melbourne along the way.

However, the plane flew through a cloud of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Galunggung (about 100 miles south-east of Jakarta, Indonesia) and all four engines cut out after smoke had filled the passenger cabin.

While Betty Tootell and the other passengers were praying for their lives and scrawling goodbye notes to loved ones, the crew entered the plane into a calculated glide in order to get the aircraft as close to Jakarta airport as possible. They believed they could glide for around 90 miles.

The crew of the Boeing 747 managed to restart the engines of the plunging/gliding aircraft just in time to avoid a mountain range, but as they approached the airport they were ununable to see the runway due to a St Elmo’s Fire effect on their window screen (the ash had sandblasted the glass). They landed using instruments alone.

Apparently, the plane has a place in the Guinness Book of Records for completing the longest glide for a non-gliding aircraft. Betty went on to marry one of her fellow passengers, and the crew and passengers formed the Galunggung Gliding Club in order to remain in contact.

We only have half a dozen copies of this book left now after the air traffic chaos caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in recent days reminded lots of people about this book from 1985. Clearly, readers are intrigued about what people do when they are 1) facing death 2) battling to avoid death, and 3) realise they have cheated death.

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Richard Davies

23 Responses to “All Four Engines Have Failed by Betty Tootell in demand after volcanic ash cloud”

  1. where can i get this Book?

  2. is the book still in print and is it available in canada?

  3. Richard Davies


    The book is out of print but can be found from a small number of used booksellers selling via AbeBooks.

    Click on this link to see the copies.


  4. I really wana read this book, because i saw the episode of AIR CRASH INVESTIGATIONS on television in which this Engine story has been reconstructed by national geographic chennel. The job done by the caption MOODY and Ist officer Greaves were apsolutaly fantastic.

  5. eres fantastica betty, Dios te bendiga.
    que experiencia fantastica. escribeme quiero saber de ti.
    soy de colombia

  6. I have a used paperback edition of this book, first edition Andre Deutsch which I would consider selling for the right price needless to say. I bought it on the launch of the book at the British High Commission in Wellington New Zealand on June 25th 1985. Present were passengers fromthe flight, Betty Tootell and Capt Eric Moody. Both Betty and Eric signed the book for me and I took some photos of Eric, Betty and 6 of the passengers. Eric actually wrote the date under his signature.

    Peter Walsh, ex British Airways, Wellington, New Zealand

  7. Peter, if you still have this book available I am interested in purchasing it. Can you please provide details of how to contact you. Thank you

  8. Axcellent Christian June 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Is this book was available in Indonesia?

  9. Martha Timmer July 4, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Hallo, is there eanybody who can give me the ISBN number of this book or can can tell where I can Buy this book??

    Best regards,

    Martha Timmer (Holland)

  10. Katherine Holme Feb 27 2011 my apologies for not coming back here to see if anyone responded to my comment.


    I have had 2nd thoughts about selling it as the price I had in mind might be too rich. It is after all a 1st edition paperback, signed by both Betty Tootell and Captain Eric Moody (who also dated it) and it was the book launch fay at the British High Commission Wellington and I took photos of both with some of tha passengers!!


  11. Martin Trimmer asks for the ISBN number, here it is, taken from my Andre Deuttsch/Hutchinsons New Zealand paperback:

    ISBN 0233 97847 X

    Published 1985 by Andre Deutsch LTD
    in association with Hutchinson Group (NZ) ltd
    An imprint of the Hutchinson Publishing Group
    32-34 View road,
    P O Box 40-086
    Auckland 10



  12. Hi Peter

    Do you still have the copy of this book for sale or has is it gone. I would be very interested in purchasing it. Please advise.



  13. Pat August 25.

    My apologies for not replying, I don’t log on here all that often.

    Yes i do still have the book, photos etc but am inclined to hold onto it.



  14. Pat,

    incidentally, the book I have is not the one depicted above. The one shown here is a reprint, I have a 1st edition.

  15. Hi Pat (Aug 25 2011).

    Yes i do still have the book and photos. My book is NOT the one depicted above as this is a reprint. I have an original Hutchinson paperback.

    However, i am sort of inclined to hold on to it.



    P.s. sorry for delay in replying, I only log on here infrequently.

  16. Kenneth Makhubele February 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Quiet an interesting story, I saw the episode on TV as well. It was interesting from the start because the passenger and crew were the ones explain it so I new it did not crash from the begin of the show.

  17. I have just watched the Air Crash Investigation story on this and it makes me really want to read the book
    i hope i can find it

  18. Can you find the book in Michigan

  19. wow….that’s amazing,when can u get time to write a book….in times of life or death…..but it sooo amazing that she shared death memories with everyone…..and another thing she wrote diz book in tymz of panic.i’d like to get this book,….but whee???!!!

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