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Buck, who has written for New York magazine, among other publications, revisits the crowning moment of his youth, the newsworthy 1966 coast-to-coast trek undertaken with his older brother, Kernahan, in a reconditioned Piper Cub. Young Kern Buck, soon after getting his pilot's license at 17, cooked up the idea of flying all the way from New Jersey to California in the two-seat, hand-crank, tailwheel airplane, which the brothers would purchase for $300 and meticulously restore over a long winter. Rinker's presence would be required as copilot and navigator in the radioless Cub. After settling on a southern route through Texas by way of Arkansas, the brothers steered "stack to stack" through the steel smog along the river mills at Pittsburgh, with overnights in Indiana, Arkansas, and Texas, reporters picking them up for interviews along the way. The memorable pass through the Rockies, near El Paso, where the pilots battled oxygen starvation as they approached the Guadalupe Pass, is the dramatic centerpiece of the book. From the distance of early middle age—he is now near the age of his father at time of the flight—the author filters his impressive tale through a prism of sympathy for the passionate, damaged man who taught his sons to fly and whose own barnstorming yarns inspired their unusual feat. Says the author, who like his brother sought a way to make a place for himself beyond the shadow of Buck Sr., "The simple audacity of our trip, our complete naiveté and nonchalance, astounds me still."
This enchanting story of youthful accomplishment, which includes masterly insider descriptions of flight, should reach a broad audience.
Posted November 19, 2007
If you love to fly, love old planes, or if you grew up loving the sight and sound of crop dusters weaving over your house as the worked - this is a great book. It's about more than two boys' adventure cross-country. It gives a look into an era and a unique culture.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.