Jon Krakauer Joshua Cooper Ramo deftly conveys why he and a handful of kindred souls feel compelled to fly small airplanes right at the edge of what's possible, and sometimes beyond. The author is a risk-taker on the page as well as in the sky, and the rewards of this fine book are commensurate with the chances taken. Ramo's is an original voice to be sure, but in his inflections one can detect echoes of James Salter, Peter Matthiessen, Norman Maclean, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry a resonance that reflects well on all parties.
Outside Magazine [Ramo's] a strong, reflective storyteller. Exploring what drives him to take ridiculous chances, he turns this book into an eminently readable meditation on humankind's craving for risk.
Time Magazine When he's in the cockpit performing feats of gritty derring-do (and occasionally derring-don't), his airplane groaning and shuddering with the strain, the book soars.
The Economist Ramo writes so well that it is infectious.
Colonel (Ret.) Frank Borman Ramo has the right stuff and so does his book. It's a classic.
… Joshua Cooper Ramo, an editor at Time magazine, still has heroes, whom he shares with other fans of aerobatic flying, as well as actual participants -- men (mostly) who live for the charge that comes from the precise performance of difficult evolutions in competition with one another. The planes they fly can be bought for about $250,000, which is not out of reach for many people who might otherwise go in for yachting. As for the glory, well, aerobatic pilots (do not call them stunt fliers) know who they are and who else is one. Ramo seeks to introduce them and their airplanes to the rest of us in No Visible Horizon: Surviving the World's Most Dangerous Sport. Tom Ferrell
Ramo, a senior editor at Time magazine, is an aerobatic flyer, and his book chronicles his experiences from first learning how to pilot a small plane to his trips around the world competing in this sport. Although he describes his feelings-fear, nausea, dizziness, near blindness from the sudden movements-in great detail, Ramo also explores the accomplishments of other pilots, including some of their last flights. One of the more poignant anecdotes involves the death of the husband of a female pilot whom Ramo had introduced to his father. Ramo thought the woman could reassure his father about the safety of the planes: "Julie explained to my father what made the sport safe. She told him how, by paying such careful attention to our planes, we tried to remove as much of the risk as possible.... My good, sensitive father was reduced to tears, thinking of Julie's lost happiness." This is a fluid book, but it lacks the compelling story of, say, Into Thin Air. Because aerobatic flying is not a sport widely followed, the book's audience may be limited. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
One can hardly imagine a sport less accessible to fans than aerobatics. Very few have the necessary combination of money, skill, and nerve to fly expensive planes in complex, three-dimensional figures in an imaginary box dangerously close to the ground. To fly at a competitive level, pilots must operate at the very limits of their ability and constantly push their vehicles to, and past, their designed limits. As a direct result, the author estimates that two percent of the practitioners are killed every year. Ramo, an editor-at-large for Time, is a competition aerobatics flyer and presents a book that is a combination of history, meditation, and exaltation of the spirit. Much of it describes the activities and mindset of flyers in extreme sports lingo, a style that does not wear well. A more interesting section dwells on the psychology of those driven to take risks and the different schools of thought on the motivations of risk-taking. The book may find readers in comprehensive sports collections.-Edwin B. Burgess, Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A firsthand account of arguably the most grown-up and certainly the most expensive ($200K equipment buy-in) of extreme sports: aerobatic flying competition at the top level. Time editor-at-large Ramo knows the value of feeling the hot breath of the bulls on the back of your neck in the morning. Homage to Hemingway informs the mood here, and often the style. The fit is not all bad: celebrating pain, embracing risk, and employing one-word sentences that begin with the letter "F" all have a place in an examination of a sport that "kills more of its participants than any other," Ramo asserts (without deigning to bandy about actual figures). While millions attend air shows involving aerobatic exhibitions or competition each year, only 60 or so men and a handful of women worldwide are allowed to compete in the Unlimited category (plus perhaps a lesser number of those qualified to judge them); only they really know what's going on. You might think of it as something like figure skating, the author suggests, except that "nobody expects to see Kristy Yamaguchi burst into flames" after botching a double toe-loop. Ramo's immersion and obsession are total as he trains to compete in the US championships, hoping to make it into the top ten. But that's aerobatic flying on one level; another is the "Socratic Dialogue" in the process: "a conversation with myself about what I am capable of." Along the way, Ramo celebrates and apotheosizes great names of the last half-century (Leo Loudenslager, anyone?) in expansively illuminated anecdotes that can go from raucous to grisly in the amount of time it takes to snap-roll a Sukhoi (Russian-built aerobatics plane). He also provides the mandatory digression onrisk-taking as an aspect of human psychology. Enough talent here to draw readers into haunting and complex esoterica.