North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life

North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life

by Bob Buck
4.8 12

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North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life by Bob Buck

It is rare to find one person whose life embodies the history of an industry the way Bob Buck's life encompasses the history of commercial aviation in America. Buck first flew in the 1920s, inspired by the exploits of Charles Lindbergh. In 1930, at age sixteen, he flew solo from coast to coast, breaking the junior transcontinental speed record. In 1936 he flew nonstop from Burbank, California, to Columbus, Ohio, in a 90-horsepower Monocoupe to establish a world distance record for light airplanes. He joined Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA) as a copilot in 1937; when he retired thirty-seven years later, he had made more than 2,000 Atlantic crossings -- and his role had progressed from such tasks as retracting a DC-2's landing gear with a cockpit-based hand pump to command of a wide-body 747.
Buck's experiences go back to a time when flying was something glamorous. He flew with and learned from some true pioneers of aviation -- the courageous pilots who created the airmail service during flying's infancy. At the behest of his employer Howard Hughes, Buck spent three months flying with Tyrone Power on a trip to South America, Africa, and Europe. He flew the New York-Paris-Cairo route in the days when flight plans called for lengthy stopovers, and enjoyed all that those romantic places had to offer. He took part in a flight that circled the globe sideways (from pole to pole). He advised TWA's president on the shift to jet planes; a world expert on weather and flight, Buck used a B-17G to chase thunderstorms worldwide as part of a TWA-Air Force research project during World War II, for which he was awarded the Air Medal (as a civilian) by President Truman.
In North Star over My Shoulder, Bob Buck tells of a life spent up and over the clouds, and of the wonderful places and marvelous people who have been a part of that life. He captures the feel, taste, and smell of flying's greatest era -- how the people lived, what they did and felt, and what it was really like to be a part of the world as it grew smaller and smaller. He relates stories from his innumerable visits to Paris, the city he loves more than any other -- echoing Gertrude Stein's view that "America is my country, and Paris is my home town" -- and from his trips to the Middle East, including flights to Israel before and after it became a state. A terrific storyteller and a fascinating man, Bob Buck has turned his well-lived life into a delightful memoir for anyone who remembers when there really was something special in the air.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743227667
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/04/2002
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 302,782
File size: 554 KB

About the Author

Bob Buck is the author of four previous books, including Weather Flying and The Pilot's Burden.

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North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Andrew DeFeo More than 1 year ago
As a commercial pilot it was wonderful to read Buck's reflections.
Charlottes-son More than 1 year ago
What a delightful story. I am particularly drown to books about ones self. It is so well written that it drew me in within the first few pages. I recommend this book for light reading.
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Rossco More than 1 year ago
Bob Buck, one of the premier aviators of the 20th century. This is his autobiography. Buck tells of learning to fly during the infancy of the aviation age and leads you all the way to his retirement from commercial flight in the 1970's. If you're interested in aviation at all, you will greatly enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Did you really read twenty-seven books?¿ my pilot asked me in the plane. Yes, I read twenty-seven books during the semester. In amazement Todd told me he only read two books this year. ¿Aviation?¿ I asked. Of course, he had to say yes, and then he told me which books he had read. North Star Over My Shoulder, was one of them, and of course since it was about airplanes I had to read it, didn¿t I! It was my reward for a long, hard semester and toward it¿s end when things were winding down I took the time to save my sanity and read the book. At the end of the book, I missed the pilot. That, for me, is the key to a well written and engaging book. Depending on your experience with aviation you¿ll appreciate this book on several levels. Here¿s what I thought of it. Without reading any other reviews, I have to say this was an excellent book! That means it held my attention; it was magical, humorous, informative, serious, and a bit nostalgic at times. I couldn't decide whether he missed the less formal days of flying or was saying younger pilots have it better. maybe both. He brought these two ideas together in the final chapter lauding the use of old and necessary skills while explaining the development of reliable technology, lessening the use of some of those skills. Former navigational skills were integral to flying before newer developments, and cannot entirely be superceded by newer and more reliable technology. Let¿s hope he¿s right. We all know about midair collisions and the fact that these are more common simply because of the increase of air traffic. This is an old problem, he says, but gone are the days of childhood for aviation. Airline flying is only one of the aspects of flying he covers in the book. Flying in small planes like the Piper Pacer or the Cessna 180, 172 or Sky Lane are what he called ¿coming home.¿ Even the passengers who have flown in the Boeing 747 like me and have no piloting experience still think smaller planes are¿intimate? Who can explain it? Even the pilot who had flown around the world and done research in B-17s thought it was a worthwhile experience. I¿m glad to know I¿m in such good company. Memorable Moments The first chapter of the book is magical for more than one reason. his comment on entering the cockpit of the 747 and starting engines got me. Hand on throttles, copilot trimming, then the description of the sky and the position of the stars and the north star had me on the edge of my imagination. I was hooked. Also though you don't know it at the time, his reference to the position of the north star points to his investigation of navigation which we learn about later. It is a nice little taste of things to come. Sitting in this 200-foot long modern marvel of industry, there¿s still a familiar intimacy with cockpit and sky that weaves it¿s way through the book whether it¿s a biplane, a Dc3, or this modern marvel that made it¿s debut on the scene five years before his retirement. He was in touch with the soul of the airplane. There is another chapter in the book where he describes some of his first jet engine flights and they hold the same magic. It¿s hard to explain, you just have to trust me on this one. The stories of lay overs in Paris, drinking too much French wine, even if it was an accident, and great passenger stories help to make it magical. I suppose every pilot has a passenger story, and I loved the ones he chose to tell us; sending an irate passenger a jar of caviar or the time when he wanted to tell someone ¿it¿s my first flight¿ and didn¿t..some people just make you want to do things like that..something I understand. Learning curve I remember my first introduction to aviation as an all-consuming passion: a little Cessna slammed into a fence not far from me. I read the accident reports and it was as if I were reading a foreign language. I know I¿ve learned a lot since then because I¿ve read a plethora of articles on aviati
Guest More than 1 year ago
The finest compliment I could give this book is to say that it belongs on the same shelf with Ernest K. Gann's aviation masterpiece, Fate is the Hunter. What a wonderful description of a flying life lived during the golden age of aviation. I couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was one of the finest aviation books that I have read. Bob's real life adventure in the history of aviation is one not to miss. His other book on aviation weather should be a must read for anyone whom flies.