Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 1
by Deana J. Driver and Contributors
Published by DriverWorks Ink
Review by Keith Foster
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-49-4
Fasten your seat belts. Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation is about to take off. It’s going to be a wild ride. This collection of thirty-five true stories has mishaps and crashes galore. It brings out the thrill, and the danger, of flying.
Author and publisher Deana Driver contributed nearly two-thirds of these stories, based on interviews she conducted. Readers will hear from, among many others, an air traffic controller, a helicopter pilot, a mechanic for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and a pilot who had to make an abrupt landing as her cockpit was filling with smoke.
Flight unveils an assortment of flying machines, from gliders to helicopters to an air ambulance. Royal Canadian Air Force Sergeant John Enright compares the smooth handling capability of the Tudor to “flying in a 737 that could instantly turn into a Ferrari.” The authors display their love of flight and love of the aircraft. “The smell of burning jet fuel is as sweet a perfume as ever there was and the roar of engines a pure symphony,” Terry Lynn Lewis writes.
Lewis describes how, as the youngest air traffic controller in Canada at the time, he nearly had two Canadian premiers arrested. Due to a garbled message, he thought the pilot said he was bringing in two prisoners, not premiers.
Enright shares the inside story of the Snowbirds aerobatic team whose pilots fly wingtip to wingtip. Sometimes, if the weather is bad, they’ll spread out so there will be two feet between each wingtip.
Eleanor Sinclair recalls taking her first flight when she was sixteen, and it was nearly her last. A twenty-year-old neighbouring farm boy took her aloft in his dual seated, propeller plane. When the crankshaft broke shortly after take-off, cutting power to the engine, they were in free flight and quickly losing altitude.
Sharon Gray recounts how a flight attendant defused a tense situation when thirteen Hells Angels bikers boarded the plane and congregated around a nervous elderly couple who had never flown before.
Reginald “Crash” Harrison crashed four times and lived to tell of it. Raised on a farm twenty-five kilometres east of Balcarres, SK, he went from driving a horse and buggy to flying a Halifax bomber in World War II.
Aviation insurance adjuster Paul W. Greening describes the ordeal of a bush pilot and the three campers he picked up after a fishing expedition in northern Manitoba. When the pilot tried taking off from the lake, the wind overturned his float plane. Pilot and passengers were submerged upside down. Although they were able to emerge from the plane, they found themselves stuck in the middle of the frigid lake, without life jackets, and none of them could swim.
In addition to these and numerous other aviation adventures, Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation is accompanied by fifty-seven black and white photos and an index. Regaling readers with its tales of turbulence, crashes, and near crashes, Flight is ultimately as satisfying as a safe, smooth landing.
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