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North Star over My Shoulder: A Flying Life [Format Kindle]

Bob Buck
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

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Bob Buck may not be as famous as Charles Lindbergh, but he's well known among aviators for setting flight-distance records in the 1930s, flying a B-17 in the Second World War, and finally, becoming a commercial airline pilot who logged more than 2,000 trips across the Atlantic Ocean. North Star over My Shoulder is Buck's memoir of a life spent in the skies. He shares plenty of cockpit wisdom: "A copilot can make a trip or ruin it; get someone who talks too much, gripes about the company, tries to impress you, tells long and boring anecdotes, or is overly aggressive in suggesting ways to run the flight, and the taste is unpleasant." He also answers the question he says nonpilots are most likely to ask him: How do you overcome jet lag? "You don't," he says. Buck addresses offbeat subjects, too, such as what an airline pilot does when one of his first-class passengers is irate about the lack of caviar on a long trip. Readers fascinated by flight will enjoy this book, both for its historical perspective on advances in aviation ("a time no one will ever experience again") and the good advice that springs from almost every page ("sitting low tends to make you level off a little too high, while sitting up high tends to make you fly into the ground and not level off enough"). Pilots will appreciate this book, as will anybody who has ever wondered what it's like to fly a plane. --John Miller

Extrait

Chapter 1: Night Flight
It was late fall, with the brilliant colors already turning dull. The leaves of the large chestnut close by our old stone house lay on the ground, curled and brown and brittle. The sky was overcast, but without definition -- no way to identify the clouds, it was simply gray and dreary.
I looked back as I turned the car from the dirt road onto the two-lane blacktop, and waved to my wife, Jean, who was watching me go; she waved back, and after that I only looked ahead.
I felt that emptiness and sadness I always faced when leaving home and family, the nagging feeling of not having had the time for all the important things to do or say.
The country road soon reached the Delaware River; after that the roads grew bigger, and the occasional auto became many as others slid into the flow. Finally the route became the steady nose-to-tail stream of highway leading to New York City and its disheartening surroundings. As home dropped back behind me and the airport loomed, the sad feeling retreated to a quiet place in the mind's back storage, while my primary thoughts turned to the evening's task.
This night I'd fly a Boeing 747 from New York across the Atlantic to Paris, as I did four or five times a month, hauling people, mail, and cargo -- a pleasant task despite the problems that weather, crew, and airplane might toss my way. Whenever I drove to an airport the same thoughts occupied my mind, mostly about emergencies and what I would do if one occurred.
The act of flying an airplane is a daily chore and I'd long since become proficient at it, the repeated reactions and movements automatic, but emergencies almost never happen so there's no rehearsal for them except for a few hours twice a year in a simulator. And that doesn't cover all of them -- ditching the plane in mid-Atlantic, for example. So you review these things, playing mental games of how to cope if the improbable should come true, and the time spent driving to the airport gives you a good opportunity to do it.
What if an engine catches fire? Pull back the throttle, cut the start lever, call for the emergency checklist. How necessary is this review? I'd been thirty years a captain and only had one fire, on a Constellation -- a "Connie" -- taking off from Frankfurt, Germany. Just as we broke ground there came the shattering confusion of a loud bell and a bright red light. "Engine fire!" Quick action on the remembered items: throttle closed, fuel mixture off, fire extinguisher lever pulled, "Read the engine fire checklist!" All the pre-trained, well-thought-out operational actions took place, right by the book. But in the back of my mind was the thought of a wing burning off, which told me, "Get the son of a bitch back on the ground as fast as possible."
I wrapped the plane into a tight turn I had learned long ago while flying fast around pylons in small-time air races and stunt shows. "Tell the tower we're coming right back," I said. The tower operator, accustomed to orderly traffic flow procedures, tried to direct us to follow another aircraft, a normal aircraft on a normal flight. A few firm words advised the tower to get others out of the way, that we were in a hurry for terra firma.
We landed okay -- total flight time was probably five or six minutes, and the fire was out before we touched down -- but it had been a fire, caused by a complicated turbine failing and tearing things up. Those few minutes presented the contrast of carefully taught and programmed reactions versus the kind of seat-of-the-pants flying you store up during long hours of flight time -- some call it "fright time," and a pilot needs some of that in his or her dossier. The modern way is right and necessary, but periodically there are difficult and perhaps emergency situations that demand the basic stick and rudder skills of quick, intuitive action.
But now it was time to quit thinking about that day in a Connie, and to come back to the 747 I was going to fly tonight. How about a hydraulic system loss? An electrical? Instruments? I go over each one -- and the tough ones, too, like a crash landing with fire, and how to get 400 people off the plane; review your actions, think of the twelve doors, know the other crew members' responsibilities, because they're yours, too. It sounds matter-of-fact in the manual, the drawings all neat and precise, but planes generally don't crack up so neatly; it'd probably be a shambles.
My mind slides back to a noon takeoff from Paris, headed for New York with a light load of only 177 passengers. We climbed toward the Channel because our route was to go over England and north, out to sea over Northern Ireland. There was a scattering of fluffy cumulus clouds around 5,000 feet, the sky above blue, the Normandy countryside green and lush below.
"Flight eight-oh-three, Paris." It was our company radio calling. The copilot answered.
"Go ahead, Paris -- eight-oh-three."
"Eight-oh-three, we have a telephone [they never say "call"] saying there is a bomb on your flight set to explode at 1340!"
All eyes to the cockpit clocks -- that was about forty-seven minutes from now. Shit!
Scared? No -- because I didn't think it was real. The natural reaction of "This wouldn't happen to me" numbs you unless there's a real accident in progress.
Logic also said that a bomb was unlikely, as most such threats are hoaxes. But we're just off the ground with seven hours ahead of us to New York, and hoax or no hoax you have to play it for real.
A quick return -- Paris air traffic control (ATC) was cooperative when the problem was explained. "You are cleared direct Orly, number one to land." The French grasp situations quickly and act that way, too.
The purser, Buddy Ledger, an efficient old-timer, was called up front: "It's like this," I explained. "We may have to evacuate, so get 'em all ready." Cool as a cucumber, no more excitement or emotion than if I'd simply wanted a cup of fresh coffee.
We started a descent, dumping fuel as we descended, but there wasn't time to get down to landing weight before arriving; as we neared Orly there were just twelve minutes left before the big bang was scheduled, so no time for hanging around the sky. Orly's runway is long, so an overweight landing was less risky than a possible bomb.
I had briefed the passengers during our return, telling them exactly what was going on: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. We've been notified there is a bomb on board set to go off in forty minutes, so we're returning to Orly. I don't think it's for real, but we cannot take the chance. We should be well on the ground before the time. Please follow the instructions of your purser and cabin team."
That was giving it to them straight. I've always believed in being truthful to passengers about problems. Let 'em have it as it is -- some might faint, but they'll know the score when we revive 'em.
Safely down, and then on the ground we were directed to a deserted area of the airport; they didn't want us to be at the terminal if we blew up.
How do you feel during all this? Annoyed, mostly, still not believing in the bomb, but playing the game. Judgments, actions, compromises all needed because of a phone call.
Out at our lonesome area on the far end of the field -- we were almost out in farm country, the terminal a couple of miles away -- I couldn't see any steps being towed out to us. To play the game right we should get out of the airplane fast: evacuate, slide all the passengers down those long chutes that inflate when the door is opened. That's a regrettable procedure, because someone always gets hurt. I look at the copilot and flight engineer; they're staring at me, expecting a decision. "Let's go!" Action: engine shut down, checklist items all done fast. I flip the switch to ring the bell that will tell the cabin team to start the evacuation, but I didn't want any misunderstandings so I also picked up the intercom. "This is it, evacuate the aircraft!"
"Go!" I said to the two crew members, and they disappeared from the cockpit. I took a minute to double-check that we'd turned all the proper things off, set the brakes, and so on. We'd been thorough, so I was mostly satisfied -- but not completely because in a big complex airplane there's always a feeling that you may have missed something; it's like leaving your house with that question of "What did I forget?" gnawing at your mind.
Last check done to the best of my ability, I rushed out of the cockpit and down the stairs expecting to see a mob of people headed for the doors, but they were already gone, the cabin empty. What a job Buddy and his gals had done. Just to be sure, I ran, circling the length of the cabin to be certain we hadn't missed anyone, and then got to the front door and its chute. Before jumping into it I hesitated a second -- gad, it looked a long way down there; well, it's almost three stories. I jumped, fanny first, feet up, into the chute and slid to the bottom.
The passengers had all been moved away from the airplane and cars and buses were racing out to get them. One man came up to me -- sensitive-looking, with eyeglasses, suit and tie, and a worried look.
"My violin, it is very valuable -- will it be safe? Please take care of it."
"If the airplane doesn't blow up, your violin is safe."
I turned to Buddy and asked, "Anybody hurt?"
"No. One gal, a dead-heading hostess [a flight attendant not working but traveling along to her next destination], turned her ankle. Everybody else okay, including an eighty-two-year-old lady with a cane."
A big sense of relief, because all the people in that airplane are your worry.
We waited a couple of hours and nothing happened. After long discussions among mechanics, airport police, and Lord knows who else, it was decided the airplane was safe. Somehow I was elected to go back on board first.
At the airplane there was a lift with a platform, and I climbed on accompanied by the commandant of the airport police, a proper Frenchman in full uniform topped by his blue kepi -- always neat and impressive. We were raised up to the front door, and in an automatic gesture...

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 733 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 448 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0743262301
  • Editeur : Simon & Schuster; Édition : Reprint (4 mai 2002)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000FC0SDW
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°445.434 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Flying experience!! 22 avril 2002
Format:Relié
Excellent livre pour tout passionne d'aviation.
Comment voir l'evolution de toute l'aeronautique au siecle dernier au travers d'un homme!!
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  44 commentaires
27 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Flying life 17 avril 2002
Par Dave English - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
A wonderfully written book of an amazing life. From DC-2 to 747, it was a career spaning the greatest changes in civil aviation. A story that is now told by someone who was active in advancing the skill of airline flying and can make it very readable. The airline pilot autobiography is not a new idea - there have been some good ones and boat-loads of just OK ones - but this is the best I've read.
A pilot's pilot (Captain Buck flew the line, did research and wrote some best-selling classic pilot education books) who can make the flight through the decades come alive. Imagine sitting down with an old man at a small airport who still pilots gliders and he turns out to be a storyteller of great wit and charm, a man who still remembers when crossing the Atlantic was a battle, who was there when airline flying advanced from shaky pistons to huge jets. Who would not want to relax in the sun, watch the airplanes, and listen to the wonders of TWA unfold. In the tradition of St. Exupery, Ernest Gann and Len Morgan. And yes, I liked it.
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Pilot's Bible for Survival 31 décembre 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Bob Buck is now a Legend in the flying field. His own books have seen to that, but this doesn't detract from the fact that he should be legendary. But there is something about legendary flyers that is often missed. Those of us who were around them didn't know they were legends, and neither did they.
In my own flying career which started after Buck's but paralleled his last quarter of a century, the critical period he himself identifies as the high water mark of flight development, I was aware of only one true legend: Lindbergh. Buck has a high opinion of him from a couple of meetings with him, and forgets or forgives his leather-headed period during his America First days before WWII when anyone with an iota of sense knew that America would have to get into the fight against the dictators and their bloody regimes. Lindbergh didn't think so. That position lined him up with those we damned and hated around our supper table in the late 1930's, the Isolationists who kept us out of the War until it was almost too little too late. Thus, the one time I met Lindbergh, I thought, "No doubt you're a great aviator, but you're actually a jerk about some things." So much for legends.
It appears to me that reviewers overlook something in this book that is actually its main theme. The fact that you can't get out and walk when flying comes after you with the idea of killing you dead as a door nail. Thus, always in the back of the mind of all good pilots is the need to plan every move, to try to anticipate every eventuality and decide what to do in advance. This is to say that the fear of death is always in the back of a good pilot's mind and should be to assure planning; leaving nothing to chance that can be prepared for.
Thus, what it boils down to is that Buck in one scene after another, without doing it literally, is repeating that old truism: "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." To which I add, "If there are they were [darn] lucky!"
I loved flying, but I always knew it might come and get me. So I learned and you will find that Buck did in spades, that a couple of the surest ways to avoid catastrophe in flying are: [1] to recognize the proposed flight that shouldn't leave the ground in the first place after everything that should be is evaluated, and [2] to turn around when headed into the trouble you are mortally certain can involve dangers you are not reasonably sure you can handle. (Such as finding you can't fly with no fuel by trying to make it too far.)
Naturally I loved this book, recognized the right of the writer to say every word he wrote, disagree with almost nothing he says, or did (except failure to fire a hostess who was an obvious damn fool, as well as insubordinate) and think his prose ranks with the best.
If you never read another book on flying, this one would give you a taste for the whole thing.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best book in a while 9 juin 2002
Par Alexander F. Thurber - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
North Star Over my Shoulder is the best flying book I've ever read, and one of the most fun books that I've read in a long time. Captain Buck has an easy to read style and has had a fascinating life centered around aviation. From the earliest planes through 747s, Buck has flown them all. He bring us along through his life with entertainment and a sense of humor. Highly recommended!
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 North Star over My Shoulder 21 avril 2002
Par Jonathan Paul - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This book parallels Ernest Gann's, "Fate is the Hunter", the best aviation book ever written. And it is a fitting companion piece. Written in a straightforward manner it tells the history of commercial aviation from the viewpoint of one who lived it. It lacks the compelling beauty of Gann's writing and his insights into the mind of pilots. In that respect, it seems impersonal. Nontheless, it's a can't-put-down read for pilots and non-pilots alike.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 North Star over my shoulder 18 avril 2006
Par E. J. Boudreau Jr. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I always had a dream of flying my own plane and 9 years ago at age 52 I did. Now 2000 hours of constant learning flying mostly my Mooney Bravo I still am excited by soaring aloft and traveling to places new and old. Bob Buck's wonderful memoir created from me a realization of how lucky we are to have had people like Bob, those willing to explore the new frontiers and make avaition a safe and dependable resource for us all. His telling of history and his life is both informative and insipiring. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history, loves flying and wants to read about it from an expert who lived it and loves it as much as anyone. Thank you Bob Buck and may you continue to inspire all. Live long and fly high.
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