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on 29 January 2014
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. For the record when the slogan was introduced in 1989, BA were the world's favourite airline according to passenger numbers. When in 2001 they were surpassed by Lufthansa, the slogan was summarily dropped.

And the comment that BA introduced the slogan 'The World's Favourite Airline' to charm Americans with 'cute spelling'. Could I respectfully remind the author that the language he speaks and writes in is English. As in England. 'Favourite' is not a cute spelling. It's how the word is spelt correctly.

Finally, the tailfin of a BA airliner resembles a can of Pepsi according to the author. Pedantic I know, but surely he means a can of Pepsi looks like the tail fin of a BA airliner? The Pepsi logo he draws comparison to was introduced in 1973, BA's in 1972, although as part of BA's component parts, BOAC and BEA, far earlier. The Union Jack flag on which the logo is based has been in regular use since 1606.

All-in-all, it's well worth a read though... it just needs a bit of editing.
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on 17 June 2013
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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on 23 December 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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on 1 July 2014
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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on 13 December 2015
Lots of interesting facts and was straight to the point on a lot of topics. Thought the author could have been slightly more consistent in his discussion - one chapter would be solely about American carriers and another would be worldwide. Consistency would have been better and more factual on some of the topics he was discussing.
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on 17 January 2016
As an occasional long-haul passenger I found this informative and approachably-pitched; it makes an interesting foil to 'Skyfaring' which I read after it was serialised on BBC R4 during 2015. Amazon helpfully suggests there are any no. of other works out there that are variations on the same intriguing theme, but I think I'd stick to these two!
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on 19 October 2013
The problem with flight in the 21st century is that the magic has gone out of it. This book addresses that. It's not just for geeks or people who want to feel a little bit more confident during turbulence - it's for those who look up and see one of the most remarkable achievements of modern man, safe flight for almost all, and want to know more. As I once heard a pilot announce after one short-haul trip in Europe, 'Next time you want to blast through the air in a pressurised aluminium tube, think of us...' Flying is astonishing, and that simple fact underpins everything in the book, whether the author is talking about the substandard service in US airlines or making the notable claim that even (proper) African airlines are safe.

I bought the Kindle version and flew through it. Even the areas where he obviously has a bit of an axe to grind - for instance the bits about career opportunities and the regional airlines in the US - he does a good enough job to keep the pages turning. On others, for instance the complaining about the incessant noise of airports and the rebranding exercises of airlines, he is either spot on or entertaining, or both.

Enjoy it next time you want to blast through the air in a pressurised aluminium tube, and don't want to take the experience for granted.
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on 29 May 2016
A brilliant book , I read it then went back to the beginning and read it again. I now know something about aviation ,airlines ,and aircraft.All the questions I had asked were answered in this book, and in a humorous way.Just brilliant.
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on 5 April 2014
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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on 14 July 2013
I would class myself as having a good understanding of aviation so was somewhat cautious when I started this. Such concerns were alleviated almost immediately as I made my way through the book.

It is laid out in a question and answer format. The questions are perfectly feasible and never inane. The answers are straightforward and always interesting. The author is not condescending and has a great way of answering a question in a clear, unbiased manner. Quite refreshing...

The authors overall love for everything flight related is also clear to see. Again - a plus point.

On the whole, I would recommend this book to anyone with even a fleeting interest in flight.
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