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.
Vanhoenacker has been captivated by aeroplanes ever since his youth and his continuing love for them shines through every chapter. Even now, after all his experience of long-haul travel, he continues to feel a surge of adrenalin during takeoffs and landings. His description of preparing the engines of a 747