Leo McKinstry

Kingdom in the Clouds

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot

By

Chatto & Windus 338pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

In the wealth of aviation literature, there is an abundance of first-hand accounts by military pilots, particularly those of the Second World War. Civilian air travel has been served far less well, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that combat and conflict are seen as more exciting. But this extraordinary book by Mark Vanhoenacker, a Boeing 747 pilot, demonstrates that, in literary terms, airliners can be just as compelling a subject. Part autobiography, part travelogue, part prose poem, this book provides a powerful antidote to the conventional belief that the romance of flight has been lost in the modern age of mass transit. More than a century after the Wright brothers first took to the air, the author shows that the conquest of the skies is still as wondrous as ever. Jaded travellers, whose journeys between identikit international airports are filled with nothing more than in-flight movies and plastic meals, should read this book to recapture the forgotten thrill of flying. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,