Why do planes disappear or fall out of the sky? Brace for Impact traces the evolution of accident investigation and explains why flying is the safest form of travel. The history of air accidents is a harrowing one. Yet today flying is the safest mode of transportation, thanks in no small part to the work of crash detectives. Whenever a plane falls from the sky, the investigators pick through the wreckage for the clues they need to decipher what happened to that flight. Before the invention of the ‘black box’ and the evolution of forensic accident investigation, the causes often remained a mystery. Since the Wright brothers first took flight, aircraft design, pilot training, aircraft maintenance, and air traffic control have all evolved to current standards of safety. Because of lessons learned from tragedies such as what befell the Comets in the 1950s, the Douglas DC-10s in the 1970s, and ill-fated Air India, TWA, and Swissair flights, flight safety continues to improve. In many ways, the history of aviation is the history of air crash investigation.