FREE FLIGHT: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel

James Fallows, Author . Public Affairs $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58648-040-0

Like many airplane rides, this timely book is a bit of a bumpy journey: smooth takeoff and landing, with some turbulence along the way. A national correspondent for of Atlantic Monthly and former U.S. News & World Report editor, Fallows believes that the small-plane industry will revolutionize air travel the way computers and wireless devices have communications. In forming his argument, he focuses on those small startups that are making planes for individual flight; Fallows foresees a time when many travelers will hop on private air-taxis. But the book is most engaging at its beginning and end, when Fallows narrates in illustrative prose his own love affair with planes and a cross-country trip he piloted with his wife and son. He describes the view from a low-flying plane—the "connectedness of physical features that seem separate from the ground." He's less successful, however, at bringing his story home to the general reader: many will find that the book's focus on technology and business makes for a difficult read. Some of the excitement of this nascent field comes across when he describes the personalities behind it and the obstacles they face, but readers may find their hopes deflated by the book's end, for the breakthrough that Fallows predicts does not appear to be on the horizon. (June 19)

Reviewed on: 06/04/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-58648-140-7
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