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Cockpit Confidential: Questions, Answers, and Reflections on Air Travel [Paperback]

Patrick Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2013
The world of air travel, often in the news, is fascinating but a little wacky. Patrick Smith has a particular talent for underscoring these features with irresistible wit and wisdom. In addition to his knowledge of all things aviation-related, Patrick shares his personal and sometimes surprising insights into geography and culture from his travels to over 70 countries. Cockpit Confidential is a completely revised edition of the 2004 Riverhead book ASK THE PILOT, with 50% entirely new material & another 30% or more revised, updated, and expanded material. New discussions cover a wider variety of topics with an emphasis on the most newsworthy: security, airfares, pilot training, as well as airline customer service issues. Also included are an informative air travel glossary and an index.

Frequently Bought Together

Cockpit Confidential: Questions, Answers, and Reflections on Air Travel + Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window + The Flying Book: Everything You've Ever Wondered About Flying on Airlines
Price For All Three: 26.27

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc (1 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402280912
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402280917
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Patrick Smith manages to demystify the experience and remind us of the magic of aviation. Also he has a great sense of humor which is critical when you are wedged into seat 14D on a regional jet" - Chris Bohjalian, author of The Night Strangers and The Double Bind"

About the Author

PATRICK SMITH is an airline pilot and air travel writer. He has appeared on over 200 radio and television outlets, including PBS, the Discovery Channel, CNN, the BBC and National Public Radio. His work has been cited in numerous publications including People, Time, Men s Health, New York Times, Le Monde, Washington Post and USA Today. In his spare time he has visited more than 70 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read but could have been great. 29 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone with a keen interest in aviation and a frequent flyer on commercial airlines, I picked up this book with a great degree of anticipation. The premise is excellent, there were some genuinely interesting subjects covered and I found the author's style affable and easy to read. However...

At times it felt like an advertorial for the Boeing Company and particularly the Boeing 747. His flag-waving allied to regular snipes about other aircraft manufacturers, particularly Airbus, cheapens the book.

As an American, Smith's experience lies with regional US airlines, so it's fair enough that this was very US-centric account. A more rounded vision of the global airline industry would have been more interesting though.

What was less forgivable was his parochial view of the US's aircraft and airlines.

Romantic claims about the 707 and its role as the pioneer of jet airline age have merit but not without a mention of the de Havilland Comet that preceded, and indeed inspired, it. In fact no mention of the Comet at all, not even in the Q&A section concerning why windows aren't bigger or different shapes on airlines - surely an ideal point in which to describe to the reader why the Comet suffered early disasters and gave the 707 its pre-eminence and competitive advantage?

His obsession with the 747 is understandable - it's a truly great, ground-breaking aircraft. But that it's also the most attractive airliner is odd for someone who acknowledges to have seen Concorde. His opinion though I is in the eye of the beholder.

And finally just some points of order relating to inaccurate comments about British Airways.

His criticism of BA using the phrase 'the World's Favourite airline' when it is now statistically 21st.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the one... 1 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a frequent traveller with roughly 30-50% of my business time in the air between clients in different locations worldwide. I wanted to know more about what I am subjecting myself to when travelling by plane.
This is certainly not the right book for my purpose; I found perhaps two pages worth of useful information about health issues (air humidity, water supply) and some safety information. The rest of the book content is a specifically US relevant, often naive chatter and a "me, me, me" chorus line of the author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too "Americanised" 5 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lots of silly questions (childrens level), answered in a very American dialogue. Not recommended for people seriously interested in the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it more 23 Dec 2013
I was hoping for a more comprehensive writing on the industry but felt it to be rather vague. What was written wasn't bad but indecisive if it was for a beginner flyer to a more frequent one / enthusiast. As an enthusiast there wasn't much of interest and found the book rather mediocre.

The author is American based and much of the stories are US orientated. He does not disguise his appreciation of Boeing and not a fan of Airbus (especially the A380). Saying this it is his opinion and doesn't bad mouth Airbus as such except for his opinion on the A380.

In the end I felt the author could have been more comprehensive.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read, too much bias though 17 Jun 2013
By Stefan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love a good gossip, and I love a good dishing of secrets, but I was rather disappointed by this book. Although it does give you a good insight into what goes on behind cockpit doors and in the head of those behind the yokes, the author's views and manner eventually start grating. It becomes more and more prevalent towards the end where it becomes more an opinionated moan and whinge (not quite a rant) than a good book. Sorry, can I get my money back?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book 9 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found the book very interesting, as I have flown a lot, and answers some of the questions you wondered about... a couple of chapters did bore me so I skipped through them
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book to dip into 30 Jun 2014
By Tibby
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very informative, well written and with humour. Thank you Patrick Smith for demystifying some of the bumps, noises etc experienced by a frequent but nervous flier!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting 6 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a well written book that gives an insight to flying as a passenger

Routes and companies are all included

Very entertaining
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well explained
I like Patrick Smith as explains technical stuff to us travellers. True this is sometimes focused on US but it's a valid insight. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Pieretto
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 20 days ago by michael o'connor
5.0 out of 5 stars When I fly I always wonder how those wonderful machines work and why...
When I fly I always wonder how those wonderful machines work and why flying is so safe. This is the best book I have bought about this matters ... for a non expert.
Published 21 days ago by Luis F Spencer Martins
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Anyone noticed that almost all accidents involving a dead pilot are blamed on the pilot? And, likewise, if the pilot survives, there is a much smaller chance he is blamed. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Lamu Hermit
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative.
I read this with a young man studying English for Aviation, it is a wonderful book for anyone who is a frequent flyer or just interested in planes.
Published 4 months ago by zojaex
4.0 out of 5 stars Answered all my questions
so informative!
Answered all my questions without getting tedious.
author has a good sense of humour too.
would recommend this book
Published 5 months ago by John Scott Hardie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent I flew without too much difficulty
This has helped my fear of flying immensley
Some of the book was not relevant to me but the author covered everything I needed to know about my fear of flying
I felt far... Read more
Published 6 months ago by malcolm guntrip
3.0 out of 5 stars a bit of US biased
Interesting read with loads of good points. At times it could have been more balanced in regards of the US this and US that.
Published 6 months ago by Mr. R. Sliwa
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