For millions of people, travel by air is a confounding, uncomfortable, and even fearful experience. Patrick Smith, airline pilot and author of the web's popular "Ask the Pilot" feature, separates fact from fallacy and tells you everything you need to know:
How planes fly, and a revealing look at the men and women who fly them
Straight talk on turbulence, pilot training, and safety
The real story on congestion, delays, and the dysfunction of the modern airport
The myths and misconceptions of cabin air and cockpit automation
Terrorism in perspective, and a provocative look at security
Airfares, seating woes, and the pitfalls of airline customer service
Cockpit Confidential covers not only the nuts and bolts of flying but also the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to inflight service to the excitement of travel abroad. It's a thoughtful, funny, at times deeply personal look into the strange and misunderstood world of commercial flying.
"Smith paints an unflinching portrait of modern air travel with several fresh and unexpected insights." (
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Great high level overview of air travel
I liked the relaxed approach of the book. Some reviewers have said it feels more like a set of notes than a book but I actually think this is a great strength of the book in general. It's presented in parts as questions and answers which I really liked.
There are other parts that take more of a traditional book approach where a story is being told, but mostly answering numerous questions. Most of them things I've wondered about and some of them interesting questions I never thought to ask.
I listened to the book before reading the author's blog in detail, and I can see why some are saying a lot of the content is already there, but this is a great way to consume the content and you can listen whilst driving to work etc. so definitely worth a purchase rather than sifting through multiple individual blog posts.
I really love the answers that talk about the mindset of the pilots and how they adapt and react to various situations. There is a part where he mentions a flight that was stuck in a holding pattern above LAX (I think) and he describes how the media portrayed the event v.s what was actually happening and the reasons for it. You really do see how the media reports on things that they don't really know anything about.
There are a few sections like this throughout the book and they are very interesting. Also passenger rather than media misconceptions. Things like how much a plane is actually moving during turbulence.
As I've gotten older I've became more of a nervous air passenger and although the book is NOT intended as a sort of self-help book (I'm not so bad to need one specifically for that tbh) but it does put your mind to ease by answering questions you've probably thought about many times when on a plane.
I really like the author's passion for aviation in general and although the stories of days gone by may not be interesting to everybody I soon became engrossed in these sections despite thinking I wouldn't enjoy them much.
I think it does go a long way to help you appreciate how cheap air travel really is these days and how lucky we are. I liked hearing about the golden age of air travel and it really got my imagination going thinking how amazing it would have been back then to go on your first flight - We really take it for granted these days.
It's good. like Really Good
- deb kelly