cover image Crazy in the Cockpit: A Woman Pilot's Adventures I

Crazy in the Cockpit: A Woman Pilot's Adventures I

DK Publishing, Randy Blume. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $21.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2572-0

As this first novel demonstrates, professional pilot and flight instructor Blume knows a great deal about flying, but considerably less about storytelling. The narrative traces the career of female pilot Kendra Davis from her first flying lesson as a college senior to her job as second officer for a commercial airline based in Guam. Kendra narrates her story in a breezy and direct conversational style, but the lack of nuance and energy makes even a description of a harrowing flight through a typhoon fall flat. All sorts of problems beset the heroine: Kendra's professor mother regards flying as the ""Greyhound Driving of the Skies,"" and attempts to pressure her daughter into graduate school. Kendra faces discrimination and harassment from the men at her workplace. Bart, the owner of a flight school and charter service, refuses to give Kendra a charter pilot position despite her qualifications, telling her she's too feminine, with her sundresses and long hair. Nick, a commuter pilot, drunkenly threatens her, and Chuck, her instructor at Houston-based Hemisphere Airlines, regularly peppers his teaching with vulgar, sexist jokes. These crises are either resolved anticlimactically or abruptly dropped. Many characters--especially a group of Middle Eastern students in flight school--are alarmingly stereotypical. Rich, macho, sporting ostentatious gold chains, these men are dishonest, predatory, undifferentiated and all equally repulsive to Kendra: ""Ahmed leaned across the table. I smelled sweat, the nauseatingly strong Polo cologne all the foreign students seemed to wear (another status symbol, I was sure), and stale cigarette smoke."" With dull prose and hollow characters, Kendra's story never gets off the ground. (May)