Cruising Altitude

Overview

Delta Air Lines' ship 714 is a wide-body jet that over the last twenty years has successfully flown more than two million Americans over half the planet - threading skies filled with other planes, and navigating storms, wind, and the financial chaos that has wrecked many airlines. And ship 714 has done it so easily that the people sitting 33,000 feet in the air - where humans normally can't be - spend more time thinking about whether they want beef or chicken than the miracle of magic and technology that got them...
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Overview

Delta Air Lines' ship 714 is a wide-body jet that over the last twenty years has successfully flown more than two million Americans over half the planet - threading skies filled with other planes, and navigating storms, wind, and the financial chaos that has wrecked many airlines. And ship 714 has done it so easily that the people sitting 33,000 feet in the air - where humans normally can't be - spend more time thinking about whether they want beef or chicken than the miracle of magic and technology that got them there. On a cold morning in Atlanta, Georgia, Bob Reiss strapped himself into the jump seat of ship 714, as pilots prepared for takeoff, and began a voyage that millions of air passengers only dream about. For the next three days, he stayed in the cockpit to discover everything that goes into seventy-two hours of operation of one commercial airliner. Reiss had already sat down with the chairman of Delta in his office, crawled with the mechanics into the engines, and tagged luggage with the baggage handlers. He had met the people who designed ship 714, the test pilots who first flew it, the FAA inspectors who inspect it, and the antiterrorist personnel who protect it. He watched air traffic controllers guide the plane through the sky and joined dispatchers at 3:00 A.M. sessions. He looked over the shoulders of schedulers, weather forecasters, salesmen, labor leaders, and senior management as they orchestrated an enormous industrial symphony. Reiss went to flight attendant and pilot training and even "flew" the multimillion-dollar simulators - which he kept "crashing" into the side of the computer-generated hangar. Reiss learned all that there was to see and more - the ghost stories, the sex-in-the-plane stories, and the close-call stories. Everything that has ever happened in aviation - from the Wright brothers to virtual reality, from corporate warfare to pilots' personal lives - is part of the singular, breathing machine, ship 714, and the spectacular
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The trip the average passenger takes from, say, New York to Detroit is only one leg of the airplane's much longer journey. Reiss ( The Last Spy ) followed an entire outing of Delta Airlines ship 714, an 18-year-old Lockheed 1011 widebody jet, from the time it left Atlanta until it returned--a trip that covered 9 stops and 15,000 miles in 72 hours. Reiss, who sat in the cockpit most of the time, covers every facet of flying a commercial jetliner: the cool competence of pilots in several spine-tingling crisis situations; the stress of air traffic controllers; complications involving the FAA. Readers will learn the importance of the checklists (which are performed several times a flight) and why altimeters have to be constantly reset to the barometric pressure (so the pilot doesn't fly the plane into the ground). Other plane lore includes sex in the L-1011's elevators; the chimpanzee who got loose in a cargo hold, grabbed a tranquilizing gun and delayed the flight; and the possibility of ghosts on L-1011s, a view made famous in The Ghost of Flight 401 by John G. Fuller, which chronicled the 1972 crash of an Eastern Airlines L-1011 and the subsequent use of salvaged parts in other 1011s--many of which were bought by Delta. Anyone who loves to fly--or anyone who has to fly--should read this comprehensive book. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In this report of what goes into the flight of a Delta jumbo jet, Reiss talks with the designers of the plane, crawls through the engines with mechanics, attends flight attendant school, spends hours in the cockpit with pilots, talks with the company president, and ``flies'' a jet in a simulator. He studies the history of aviation, looks into the programming of flight schedules, visits the air traffic controllers, and looks over the shoulders of weather forecasters, salespeople, labor leaders, and senior management as they orchestrate an enormous industrial symphony. Reiss, a former reporter for Rolling Stone, puts each piece of this elaborate puzzle in its proper place and describes in revealing detail everything the typical air traveler doesn't see. The planning, testing, and elaborate safety measures that make flying almost as safe as staying home are as interesting as the ghost stories, close-call stories, and sex-on-the-plane stories. Recommended. --Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence
Denise Perry Donavin
Reiss flew more than 16,000 miles on the same Delta Airlines TriStar, gaining an incredible intimacy with the aircraft, various pilots, crew members, and other staff who make it possible to fly safely. Working closely with Delta, Reiss learned, as well, about how meals are served, luggage is delivered, and schedules are maintained. He shares his discoveries about the business, technical, and personnel sides of the airline industry. His chapter on haunted planes and his discovery that the plane he had just spent so much time in had suffered a severed wing in 1986 are downright spooky. Not a book to make nervous fliers any calmer, but certainly fascinating stuff for the air commuter.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671776503
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Pages: 318

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