Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight

Matt Higgins. Penguin Press, $27.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-59420-465-4
A new tribe of aerial daredevils write their deeds in blood and glory in this bracing if windy extreme sports saga. Journalist Higgins sings the exploits and charisma of “wing-suit” pilots, who leap from airplanes and high places and glide through the air in a nylon getup that gives them the shape and aerodynamic advantages of a flying squirrel. His loose narrative follows two wing suiters in their quest to become the first to land (safely) without a parachute: mediagenic superstar Jeb Corliss, bald and resplendent in an all-black outfit with silver skull buttons, wants to build a million-dollar landing slope; meanwhile, his rival, Gary Connery, an unknown stuntman, conceives a bargain-basement scheme to land in a pile of cardboard boxes. The book is mainly a chronicle of death-defying stunts: mishaps are plenty grisly when wing suiters traveling at 100 mph encounter anything denser than air, and the body count is high. It’s also an inchoate tribute to the exaltation of defying death; one extreme parachutist “felt somehow reborn into the world” on his first outing, “as if scales had been stripped from his eyes.” These effusions won’t move everyone to a conversion experience, but Higgins’s account is hair-raising enough to hold the reader’s interest. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 07/31/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-5251-0
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-312746-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-0251-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-3251-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-8646-4
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