Friday, May 10, 2013

New Books Offer Fresh View of Aviation

With air travel books clogging the store shelves like the departure runway at JFK on a Friday afternoon, it takes a special combination of good writing and fresh ideas to break out from the field.  Two books I've read recently meet this test; Patrick Smith's Cockpit Confidential, and Tiffany Hawk's novel, Love Me Anyway

When my inadvertent guffaw at a particular story in Love Me Anyway, was loud enough to get the attention of other passengers while flying to San Francisco last week,  the flight attendant came over to ask if I was okay. I should have posed the question right back at her given the eye-opening look at the flight attendant's life offered up in Hawk's first novel.

Love Me Anyway tells the story of two young women just starting out flying for an international airline, whose passage to maturity takes a lot longer and encounters more turbulence than a typical trans Atlantic crossing. In life and literature, if not in aviation, it is the diversions that turn out to be the most beneficial. 

Earnest Emily, and her roommate the kookie/sometimes kinky KC, experience exotic ups and downs due to their here-today-and-gone-tomorrow lifestyle Hawk, who was a flight attendant herself, draws a portrait of older colleagues that suggests too much globetrotting can lead to some leveling off in the ascent to maturity.

We will never know if Hawk would have suffered a similar fate because she gave up flying for a living after September 11th changed much of the world she'd briefly come to know. While she is no longer offering service at 36,000 feet, she is well-equipped to to take readers on flights of fancy in her new profession as novelist. 

The challenge for authors writing about air travel is that many readers - accurately or not - feel fully educated on the subject and everyone who has ever been on an airplane has an opinion about the industry. 

With Patrick Smith's newest book, that doesn't matter because no matter how much you've read or how much you know, I guarantee you, you haven't heard this perspective on piloting, airline livery, history or security before.  

For 10 years Patrick wrote the Salon column Ask The Pilot and I'll guess he's got a fan base to rival some airlines' frequent flyer programs. Okay, I'll grant you, some of them are probably wing nuts and gear heads, but many are drawn to Smith's a laugh-a-page guided tour through the mostly misunderstood world of air travel.  

On your next flight, you want a middle seat between Patrick Smith and Tiffany Hawk. Lacking that, make sure you pack copies of Cockpit Confidential and Love Me Anyway in your carry on.

1 comment:

Ron Kuhlmann said...


I don't know the woman but Patrick is a great writer and storyteller. Can't wait.

Ron Kuhlmann