Internet Version with Revisions 2000-2017

Adventures in Personal Flying

Few people have appreciation for the pure joy of flight. Private flyers share a secret knowledge that even the most routine trip in the sky imparts sensations of the highest order. Indeed, the world seems horizontal and dull when perceived through flight-intensified senses.

For pilots, all events on the ground are parenthetical.  Even a fabulous banquet, say, or a first-rate musical performance or an acclaimed theatrical production -- any event that might hold significance for others merely fills the time until we can go flying again.

Individual access to the sky is almost uniquely an American privilege -- an American privilege in decline. The numbers all say so (see AOPA Statistical Reference Guide) -- the quantity of airplanes made and flights flown year by year, insurance rates and operating costs, airports by the dozens converted to shopping malls in communities all over the country, stressed-out procedures aloft and on the ground, public skies increasingly dominated by commercial air carriers crammed with disgruntled passengers.

Tyranny of the Majority, the historic menace to diversity and individual expression, now besets airplanes and their pilots. Poorly informed by a populist press, multitudes embrace vulgar myths about the sky. Some would welcome the demise of private aviation, having never experienced its practical realities -- having never enjoyed adventures aloft that confer lifelong gladness.

Aviation enthusiasts have an obligation to reach out to that majority of Americans who do not exercise their privilege of being a pilot. That's what I have tried to do here with the Internet version of Chapters in the Sky.

 Chapters in the Sky: Adventures in Personal Flying
  • Non-pilots and pilots -- especially non-pilots.
  • Established readership in popular magazines.
  • Technical concepts made accessible.
  • Marketing channels for the original book include book stores and clubs, retail stores and gift shops, and -- hey, airports.
  • First person narratives.  Suspense.  Cumulative humor.
  • True stories, critically acclaimed by flying enthusiasts.
  • People oriented.  Explanations are salted into dialogues.
  • Not quite conventional.  Each chapter nearly stands alone.
  • Word-links to a Descriptive Glossary.
  • No sex, no violence.  A few bad words.
  • Psychology Aloft: pride and panic, hubris and humiliation.
  • Qualifications for Flight: solo, aerobatics, temperament.
  • Atmospheric Realities: clouds, storms, turbulence, hypoxia.

The saints of space dare everything but the contemplation of danger.  The Right Stuff, according to Tom Wolfe, is what wards off disaster. It is a mysterious substance known only by its absence. Meanwhile...

 ... a number of us piston-powered folk explore the bottom of the atmosphere.  Our true danger is "the whoopee factor." 
Chapters in the Sky is mostly about this wrong stuff.

Countless armchair aviators have thrilled to the combat triumphs in Yeager.  You might admire Chuck's breaking the sound barrier but not emulate him -- unless you happen to find a friend with an X1 you can borrow.  Nevertheless...
 ...becoming a do-it-yourself flyer is possible for any woman or man in America.  Chapters in the Sky invites you 
to get out of your armchair and go subsonic.

The venerable text on flying, Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langeweische, stays in print decade after decade.  Still,...
 ...some people prefer stories, where principles of flight might
be embedded in dialogue and thunderstorms narrated.
 Non-flying readers of Chapters in the Sky will find both.

In his fictional rhapsody, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach appealed to an avian mentality.  However...
 ...those who are denied the requisite feathers, can still act out their fantasies.  Meet the consummate bird brain 
on the pages of Chapters in the Sky.

With its pathos, diction, suspense, Fate is the Hunter sets the standard for the genre.  It diarized the early days of aviation tradesmen, wherein the cockpit was often the scene of improvised heroics.  Thus...
 ...Earnest K. Gann's classic is to Chapters in the Sky
what the DC-3 is to the Cessna 172.

In these memoirs, I have tried to describe what it feels like to pick a place and fly there. Not just get there or be there -- to fly there. I hope you enjoy my stories -- and something else. I hope you don't make all the mistakes I made, starting with this one.

Home Page
Table of Contents
Contact Author