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4.9 out of 5 stars141
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 18 November 2000
About a hundred years ago I walked into a bookshop in a small English town and found a hardback copy of "Fate". It was gathering dust on a high shelf - something that had been ordered and never collected the lady bookseller said. That was at the beginning of my flying career. I tried, and nearly succeeded in tracing EKG's footsteps around the globe. True the equipment was a bit more modern and we had inertial nav over astro nav, even so it was all very memorable - especially when I got to make a pencilled notation on the page of that book indicating the date I'd been there. The career has ended now, and I more or less resemble that battered hardback copy that resided at the bottom of my flight bag for nearly 17,000 flight hours. So, thanks for a story of flight and flying men that will never be beaten, EKG. My privilege to have shared the same sky. Any co-pilot slots available at our equivalent of "Fiddlers Green", I'll be along shortly.
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on 13 July 1998
I have read and re-read "Fate is the Hunter" so many times that the pages are loose and falling out. You are not just reading the best aviation book of all time, you are in the cockpit behind the master himself, as he savors the illicit thrill of a zero-zero takeoff from a fog bound Presque Isle airport in a C-47 during the war, taking a load of steel girders to Goose Bay. Just after takeoff, the girders break loose and slide to the rear of the aircraft, which starts a climb so steep that the plane is shuddering in a stall. As Gann and his co-pilot are pushing the control column forward as hard as they can with their feet a crewmember is trying to move the girders back up the near vertical floor.
Gann's writing so inspired me that I wanted to become an airline pilot, but my flying ability was just slightly better than Bixby, his inept co-pilot that almost collided with the Taj Mahal, another fascinating story later on in the book. I became a dispatcher instead, an occupation I truly loved, which was also inspired by Gann's interaction with the dispatchers of his line.
I wrote Ernest Gann at his home in Friday Harbor, Washington and tried to convey just how much I enjoyed "Fate is the Hunter" and what an impact it made on my life. I received short note from him. It was very gracious and humble, and is one of my greatest treasures.
I also highly recommend "Hostage to Fortune", a chronology of Gann's incredible life from a rebellious young man that could never follow his father into business and be chained to an office, through a lifetime of adventure, to his retirement on Red Mill Farm, on an island in the Pacific northwest.
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on 14 May 1999
Everyone here has given this book five stars and I am no exception. Pilots know that flying is not just transportation but a way of learning who you really are, the stuff you are made of. This book is clearly Gann's masterwork. After reading the chapter on thunderstorms, I thought that there was just no better aviation writing and I still had half the book to go. Of course, then came the chapter on flying in ice. This alone is worth the price of the book and is probably the best aviation story every told. My hair stood on end for days... A great blend of flying, adventure and good writing.
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on 10 February 1998
The first book I ever read that puts you in the cockpit, sweating to cross the Blue ridge Mountains, or to clear the Taj Mahal. Over 50 years later, the essence of airline flight has not changed, and Gann understood why pilots will aways be at "The tip of the Arrow" My mothergave me this book when I was 14, and it led to a career as an airline pilot with a major
carrier...I have an original 1961 edition of this
book, one of my most prized positions, and I re-read it from time to time; as a great literary
work, and as a bedrock of what it means to
live and work in the sky...because of men like him, a generation of pilots found their calling.
Not just an aviation book, it addresses the ran-
domness of fate in all walks of life. Very highly
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on 24 June 1999
This book truly captures the emotions of a pilot and what it was like to fly for the flegling airline industry 60 years ago. Mr. Gann also chronicals the start of M.A.T.S. (military air transport service) of WW II. Even though it was written in the time frame of the 30's and 40's it all holds true in todays flying. A must read for any pilot interested in the history of the industry
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on 7 May 1999
The finest aviation memior ever written. A biography that reads like a novel. Read the chapters about flying in ice and thunderstorms and you'll be back with Gann in the cockpits of DC-2s and 3s. But yet it's not an "airplane" book, it's a reflction on life's paths. A must read for anyone who loves flying or has ever wondered about our destiny. He wonders about fate without getting into metaphysics...Gann doesn't come across as a philospher, rather as a man asking the questions we all ask ourselves (but rarely admit to). I still have the first copy I bought nearly 30 years ago, and my autographed copy is one of my prized possessions. Once you read it, you'll find yourself reading it every couple of years!
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on 23 February 2009
After many years out of print this has to be the definitive "pilots own" story of the development of civil aviation in the early twin engine days of the thirties+ little known anecdotes on the development of MATS during the Second World War where many civilian pilots were co-oped into the US Military Air Transport Service , where around the world flights and three breakfasts on the trot due to time zone travels were not uncommon. This is a real life " I learn 't flying from that.." book.
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on 21 February 1999
The book chronicles Gann's career as a "high timer," an airline pilot with more than 10,000 hours in his log book. If you are a fan of the propeller era of air transport, (DC-2/DC-3/DC-4) you will find his accounts of life on the flight deck fascinating. Additionally, private pilots may learn useful tips for flying in foul weather.
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on 4 March 2014
This book is written for professional pilots who learned their trade before the days of GPS, VOR and DME; when pilots had to take star sights in mid Atlantic and terminal navigation was a running fix on the Chicago broadcast station; when a forced landing could result in a fortnight on a frozen lake before you were found, let alone rescued, when carburettor ice was capable of bringing the aircraft down and the secret fix was to lean the mixture until the engine backfired through the choke tube and blew the ice out. These aircraft were not stringbags - they were all-metal aircraft that looked not unlike the airliners of the 1950s - the DC6 and the Constellation, but the infrastructure was much less sophisticated. This book makes sense of much of what we are taught about IFR flight today, when the existence of accurate fixing aids and ground radar makes much of what we do seem unnecessary. But it wasn't in those days! We still have to learn the 'Ground - Air Emergency Code', but few of us expect to use it; in those days it was vital.
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on 31 January 1999
Without a doubt, the best book I have ever read about 30's, 40's flying. Excellent. I read this one in 1961 when it first was published. I can still remember most of the incidents Gann describes. They live in my memory. The "Match" incident in a storm flying a DC-3 on an Eastern route, the time he lifted a C-87 at the last moment on takeoff by extending full flaps to avoid hitting the Taj Mahal.. An epict book. Try it, it will be hard to put down. B.G.Schlueter
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