Mark Vanhoenacker is a Belgian-American airline pilot and author. He is a Boeing 787 pilot with British Airways and is also frequent contributor for the New York Times, Slate and the Financial Times with a focus on aviation. (Wikipedia)
|Skyfaring: a Journey with a Pilot||Skyfaring: Aug 17, 2015
review by Bruce FLyingSinger Irving
Mark is an American who ended up flying 747’s for British Airways (now 777). He’s also an excellent writer.
I've just finished Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker. It's a great and eye-opening book that intersects many interests and thoughts I have had over the years.
One great thing is the focus on many details of flying, which naturally appeals to the aviation geek and lapsed pilot in me. But it connects more with my experiences as a passenger and international traveler, with all the stuff that I experience as simultaneously mundane and amazing.
"Place lag" is an interesting way to see it.
I'm sleeping in a bed in China maybe 24 hours after leaving one in Massachusetts. Mark has a way of illuminating such experiences better than I ever could. For example...
I've often looked out the window on long flights at stars or at white specks in northern oceans -- icebergs? Ocean swells? Whales?
When I'm flying to Asia, it still boggles my mind to be over northern Alaska or Siberia, and I often document this with photos of the video screen flight map.
Of course in recent years I've tended to try to follow jet-lag sleep protocols, and to have an aisle seat or keep the shades down. But I still want to see and understand what's on the ground and in the air whenever I can. Mark explores so many of these viewpoints, seeing from the right seat of an Airbus or now 747 much more than I could ever see even if I flew more frequently.
There is tons of "pilot stuff" that I sort of knew but could really appreciate with fresh eyes from Mark's explanations and analogies. Here's one example:
Here are a few other sections of text that I highlighted. As with many good books, I feel I could enjoy and benefit from immediately reading it again. But the book backlog makes this quite unlikely:
" Boston, historically and still in its self-imagination, is first of all a port, and its harbor remains a busy place. In echoes of both Kitty Hawk and the city's maritime past, the busy runways of its airport stand so near to the water that mariners coming to Boston today might be forgiven for thinking they are about to dock at the airport; air passengers, meanwhile, might think they are on a seaplane, so late does proper New England ground appear in the window. "
Mark devotes several pages to interesting waypoint names around the world] Even the region's speech -- WIKID, followed by PAHTI, classic Boston speech -- seems to be mapped. There's even a NIMOY waypoint; Leonard was born in Boston.
Review written 8/17/15 on HSR train from Beijing to Shanghai