Airport: Planes, People, Triumphs, and Disasters at John F. Kennedy International

Airport: Planes, People, Triumphs, and Disasters at John F. Kennedy International

by James Kaplan
     
 

As news coverage raises serious questions about aircraft safety and airport security, James Kaplan offers a timely behind-the-scenes account of John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Airport: Planes, People, Triumphs, and Disasters at John F. Kennedy International achieves the impossible-it goes "inside" the sprawling J.F.K. to expose the lifeblood

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Overview

As news coverage raises serious questions about aircraft safety and airport security, James Kaplan offers a timely behind-the-scenes account of John F. Kennedy International Airport. The Airport: Planes, People, Triumphs, and Disasters at John F. Kennedy International achieves the impossible-it goes "inside" the sprawling J.F.K. to expose the lifeblood of a major metropolitan airport.

Kaplan spoke with many of the key players within Kennedy's city of 44,000 around-the-clock workers, including administrators, technicians, crime investigators, pilots and skycaps. He interviewed people who hold such bizarre posts as Kennedy's notorious "Birdman" who patrols the runways for "laughing seagulls"; the leader of the "Beagle Brigade" who uses beagles to track the illegal entry of unwanted materials; and one of the airport's medical team who must contend with airport "mules," men and women who smuggle drugs by ingesting large quantities of drug packets into their bodies.

The Airport assesses the crucial role that deregulation has played in shaping today's airline industry, producing lower fares that allow more people to fly, but in a manner that feels "progressively more inconvenient." Kaplan suggests that deregulation may have contributed to dangerous declines in maintenance and safety standards. In addition, he examines all the other elements affecting airline safety—traffic control, weather, runway maintenance, radar and other sensing equipment, pilot and flight attendant training and disaster crews.

In The Airport, James Kaplan presents a panoramic, intimately detailed and highly personal view of the world of flying, and of a fabled airport's inner life, which even the most seasoned travelers never get to see.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780688149543
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/12/1996
Pages:
278
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.82(d)

Read an Excerpt

"At Queens Boulevard, I took the shoulder. At Jewel Avenue, I used the median! I had it! I was there! And then . . . I hit the Van Wyck. They say no one's ever beaten the Van Wyck. But gentlemen—I 'll tell you this. I came as close as anyone ever has.... "
—ELAINE; on Seinfeld,
TV situation comedy of the early nineties

On the kind of early-spring late afternoon when the shadows in Manhattan are long and purple on the brick faces of the old tenements of the far Upper East Side, I hail a cab for Kennedy. The fact that I have no luggage makes zero impression on the driver, nor does the fact that after a block I whip out a reporter's notebook. "Can we talk?" I say, not consciously echoing Joan Rivers. "Sure, why not?" my driver says. Like most cabbies and cops, he is surprised by little, and quite happy to talk, feeling—probably with a good deal of justification—that he has two or three books' worth of material in him. His name, I read on his hack license, is Efthimios Andreadis. My very rough translation from the Greek is "good spirited man." This Andreadis is. He is an extraordinarily equable cab driver, of philosophical bent—a dark, mustachioed fellow of indeterminate early middle age. "The last time I went to Kennedy?" he says. "Maybe about three weeks ago. The thing about Kennedy, you rarely get a fare back to the city. You look around a little, then you go back empty. Financially speaking, it's not too bad—it works out about the same as cruising in Manhattan. As long as you don't hit traffic."

We turn onto the FDR Drive, which is packed but flowing. We're heading north, toward the Triborough Bridge. "Sometimes it's just luck,"Efthimios Andreadis muses. "Every corner you turn, you pick up somebody. Other times, you look and look for a fare. It's funny," he says, turning his profile to me.

Whenever I chat with a cabbie, which is often, I have to figure out whether he wants me to make angular eye contact in the rearview mirror—a process that disconcerts me by its indirection—or directly with the side of his face.

Excerpted from The Airport. Copyright ) 1994 by James Kaplan.

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