Discoveries unearthed in flight


Vvanhoeacker, a contributor to the New York Times, is I his early 40s. He grew up in western Massachusetts and came to flying relatively late, after attending graduate school in England, working in management consulting in Boston. He began fly commercially at 29, after realizing how much travel thrilled him. He likes the “planetary sensibility ” his job afford him. “I am certain that on most workdays,” he writes, “I see more people than many of my ancestor saw in an entire lifetime,

For more than a decade when I was in my 20s and 30s, I was terrified to fly. Like John Updike ‘s character Henry Bech, I had an especially morbid fear of “being dropped from the tail-end lavatory.” Sometimes I made it as far as the boarding gate with my ticket before turning back in shame, also in relief, to head to the bus or train station. This fear slowly evaporated once I had children. I’d also begun to the oddly consoling advice of caliph in Trillin , who wrote that the key to arriving safely is never setting you watch to local time until after your plane has touched down. This is a prelude. So many books about air travel inquire into disasters or near disasters . They zoom in on the details of troubled flights only to pull back, to speak of people and places and technologies and to reassure us the odds of us perishing in this manner are vanishing small. Mark Vanhoenacker’s first book, “sky faring:  A journey–from first page

With a pilot,” is an unusual entry into the air-travel genre. For one thing, the author is a commercial pilot, flying the Boeing 747 from London . For another, he doesn’t speak of disaster s,not even in passing. “Skyfaring” makes no reference to September, to the indignities of airport security, to shoe bombs, to flights that slip untraced into oceans. It doesn’t traffic in expose, either. This is a book about the intel lecture and emotional delight of flying, and it is shyly philosophical. If the man  who may be our best writer about flight wrote plain, muscular prose that resemble Theodore Dreiser’s, Mr. Can put one in mind of Henry James. In skyfaring we regularly come upon phrases like “the water gyre of the planets like ” the water gyre of the planet,” “technical rectitude,” “the ichthyology of our sea sky ” and “the light-filled clerestory of the world.” He breaks down the sections of his books into loose, poetical chapters with titles like “lift,””way finding,””machine” and “night.”he is excellent on the sense of calm and the sometimes loneliness during a flight, the notion that our physical planet still seems , from on high, mostly uninhabited. He speaks often about poetry and art and music. In Paris, theses men and women can become close to one another during a long flight, the author notes, and then may not see one another again for years, if ever. But just when you are lamenting these facts, he crosses into potent material, such as the politics of the night sky over Africa , a continent that maybe the world second most.

— a commercial pilot writes with gravitas on the topic of air travel–


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