3 out of 4 stars
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In the beginning, there was a little boy who dreamed of flying. The boy grew up, and his dream grew with him. Despite the varying circumstances, he wasn’t willing to give up on his dream. It guided the young man he had become to attend the Army’s helicopter pilot training. He qualified to fly the army helicopters and was soon on his way to the war zone. The life-threatening airspace of Vietnam taught him to fly under any circumstances. Shortly after his time in the military, he found himself flying above the Alaskan wilderness. That was only the beginning of his career as a pilot. To advance in his career, he took over tasks that others were not willing to take. Along the way, he became familiar with different types of helicopters and small aircraft before entering the world of passenger airplanes. He faced many challenges and had to sacrifice a lot, but he was never willing to give up on his dream. This man is Robert Fulton. Up in the Air, a pilot’s journey is a memoir of his 50-year career as a pilot.
Robert Fulton is nothing less than an exceptional storyteller. Joining him in his numerous adventures was extremely exciting. I could almost feel the controls of the aircraft in my own hands, sometimes shaking violently and sometimes responding smoothly as a feather. I also valued the numerous lessons one could learn from Robert Fulton’s long experience in working life or his respectful attitude towards life in general. His skills to deal with difficult conditions were remarkable. As he faced many situations where survival was not self-evident, everyone could learn something from his ability to stay calm and navigate out of the troublesome positions. Besides, learning about all different aviation tasks was mind-blowing for such a greenhorn as me. For example, it never before occurred to me they use helicopters in wood logging.
Albeit the author’s extraordinary storytelling abilities, the chain of events in this book was at times miscellaneous. Narrating the events in mixed order felt confusing. It forced me to interrupt my reading multiple times as I tried to figure out in which part of the timeline we’d just landed. Another confusing detail was the vague mentions of his family life. The author stated clearly that this book was not a memoir of his family life but a memoir of his aviation career. Unfortunately, this statement seemed contradictory as he still included the family in his stories occasionally. It was just enough to make the reader curious about the topic. How did the family deal with constant moving because of their father’s ever-changing jobs? How did they deal with long periods of his absence? These were the questions I pondered while reading. I would have liked to see them answered.
From most parts, I found this aviation memoir quite an entertaining and educational read. I am pleased to rate this well-written and well-edited book with 3 out of 4 stars. Following the actual timeline of the events would undoubtedly have earned this book a four-star rating. I respected the general educational value of this book, along with the author’s storytelling abilities. It is worth noticing that the content can easily be equated to other professions, as it shows the value of being constantly able to reinvent one’s professional abilities. As the author included a short glossary of aviation words and abbreviations, Up in the Air, a pilot’s journey is an understandable read to every average person.
I would warmly recommend this book to everyone interested in aviation. As mentioned above, the level of knowledge about the topic is insignificant. I’d imagine this book could also serve as an inspiration to anyone with big dreams concerning their professional life. At last, also readers interested in memoirs would presumably find this book an enjoyable read.
Up in the Air, a pilot’s journey
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