Sole Survivor Documentary Review Essays

When Galaxy Flight 203 was in its final seconds, George Lamson pulled his legs above his head, an arbitrary decision that helped save his life as he was thrown through the fuselage on impact. Immediately after the crash, George's sole survival was considered miraculous and newsworthy, making him a fixture in the media for a year. Twenty-six years later, George lives a few blocks from the accident site and still struggles with the emotional weight of his survival. He doesn't know if he was spared for a reason and if he was, what is that reason? In an effort to heal, he seeks to connect with the other thirteen sole survivors of commercial aviation disasters, including Cecelia Cichan, Bahia Bakari and Jim Polehinke - none of which have ever spoken publicly. Jim was the co-pilot of Comair Flight 5191 that crashed in Lexington on August 27th, 2006. Jim lost the use of his legs in the accident, but when he woke up from his coma, the most devastating news was that everyone on the plane had perished. Since the accident, Jim has never spoken publicly. In this film, Jim's emotional struggle with his survivorship are underscored by the NTSB's findings that the plane crashed solely due to pilot error.

CNN to Premiere 'Sole Survivor,' a Documentary About Lone Survivors of Plane Crashes

The next documentary to have its debut on CNN will be “Sole Survivor,” a film written and directed by Ky Dickens (“Fish Out of Water”) about the experiences of survivors of major aviation disasters. The film, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival, will have its television debut on CNN on Thursday, January 9th, 2014, airing at 9pm, 11pm and 2am ET, and encoring on Sunday, January 12th at the same broadcast times.

In the history of commercial flight, there have been 14 large airplane crashes with a lone survivor. One of them was George Lamson, Jr., who at the age of 17 was the only survivor of Galaxy Airlines flight 203, which crashed near Reno, NV in 1985, taking with it his father along with all the other passengers and crew, save Lamson. The film follows Lamson, who has memorized the names of the other 13 sole survivors, in a journey to meet those that he can, and exploring the complicated emotions, including survivor’s guilt, that many feel. Most have not been interviewed before this film.

During the telecast on CNN, filmmaker Ky Dickens and others associated with the doc will offer behind-the-scenes commentary and respond to questions about the film via social media using the hashtag #SoleSurvivorFilm.

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