NORTH STAR OVER MY SHOULDER: A Flying Life

Bob Buck, Author, Robert N. Buck, Author
Bob Buck, Author, Robert N. Buck, Author . Simon & Schuster $26 (446p) ISBN 978-0-7432-1964-8
Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-7432-2766-7
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-7432-6230-9
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What's not to love about flying? For all the numbing routine, constant danger and bad food, Buck can't find much to complain about. He's been flying since the 1920s and still today, at age 87, takes the occasional glider for a spin. His autobiography is a thumbnail history of the air transport industry, which he's been a part of practically since its inception. The book skips most of Buck's personal life and focuses on airplanes. Buck relates his wide-eyed first flying experience at 16 with an enthusiasm normally relegated to the pages of romance novels. He quickly became a copilot and eventually a pilot for nascent Missouri airline TWA. His descriptions of these early flights in bare-bones vehicles have a white-knuckle intensity, especially when the weather turns bad (one passage tells of the few options pilots had when dealing with ice forming on their windshields: opening a small window at 10,000 feet and scraping it off with a putty knife was one of them). During WWII, Buck flew a special weather-research B-17 around the world and after the war became one of the airline's most senior pilots. In the course of his life, he flies over most of the known world and meets fellow air aficionados Tyrone Power and Howard Hughes. Buck writes in an appealing, no-nonsense manner that only occasionally becomes labored—the literary equivalent of one too many friendly punches in the shoulder—but this is an exciting memoir from an endearingly obsessed man who has been just about everywhere and can't wait to tell how he got there, and in what kind of plane and at what altitude. (Apr. 11)

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