Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot (Vintage Departures) (Paperback)

Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot (Vintage Departures) By Mark Vanhoenacker Cover Image
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A New York Times Notable Book • "An elegant, nonlinear reflection on how flying on a commercial airliner—even while painfully folded into a seat in coach—can lift the soul.” —The New York Times Book Review

In the twenty-first century, airplane flight—once a remarkable feat of human ingenuity—has been relegated to the realm of the mundane. In this mesmerizing reflection on flying, Mark Vanhoenacker, a 747 pilot who left academia and a career in the business world to pursue his childhood dream of flying, helps us to reimagine what we—as pilots and as passengers—are actually doing when we enter the world between departure and discovery.

In a seamless fusion of history, politics, geography, meteorology, ecology, family, and physics, Vanhoenacker vaults across geographical and cultural boundaries; above mountains, oceans, and deserts; through snow, wind, and rain, renewing a simultaneously humbling and almost superhuman activity and reawakening our capacity to be amazed.

About the Author

Mark Vanhoenacker is a pilot and writer. A regular contributor to The New York Times and Slate, he has also written for Wired, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Independent. Born in Massachusetts, he trained as a historian and worked as a management consultant before starting his flight training in Britain in 2001. His airline career began in 2003. He now flies the Boeing 747 from London to major cities around the world.

Praise For…

A New York Times Notable Book A Best Book of the Year: San Francisco Chronicle, The Economist, GQ, Kirkus Reviews

“Superb. . . . An elegant, nonlinear reflection on how flying on a commercial airliner—even while painfully folded into a seat in coach—can lift the soul.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A beautifully observed collection of details, scenes, emotions and facts from the world above the world.” —The Economist
“Remarkable. . . . [Skyfaring] lifts the thoughts and spirits.” —James Fallows, The Atlantic

“Marvelously literate. . . . Vanhoenacker . . . can put one in mind of Henry James. . . . A big-hearted book.” —The New York Times
“Gorgeous and captivating. . . . Skyfaring artfully demystifies the fascinating technical aspects of commercial flight while delivering poetic insights straight from the cockpit.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Masterly, beautifully written.” —The Times Literary Supplement
“[Vanhoenacker is] an exceptionally lucid and philosophically minded writer.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Not since Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic Vol de Nuit . . . has there been such a fantastic book about flying. . . . Skyfaring takes the genre to a whole new level.” —Condé Nast Traveller
“Imagine Henry David Thoreau reflecting on the wonders of the lights of Oman as seen from the cockpit of a 747, and you begin to have something of the fresh magic of this exceptional debut.” —Pico Iyer, author of The Man Within My Head
“Riveting. . . . Vanhoenacker paints humanity seen from the aviator’s perch, woven together with a fascinating layman’s account of the mechanics of flight. . . . [He] invokes philosophers, music, history, and his own past and family to convey the sense of discovery and disorientation that he feels crisscrossing the globe.” —The Times (London)
“A love letter to flight. . . . Vanhoenacker slips easily between poetic meditation into the nature of travel and technical explanations of the mechanisms of the 747, and I found all of it fascinating. It is a delight to encounter someone so unabashedly enamored of the romance of his profession.” —Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions
“[A] revelatory work of observation, thought, and expression.” —James Fallows, author of China Airborne
“Flying, a century after Kitty Hawk, can seem both scary and banal, the realm of underwear bombers and miniature mouthwashes, but Vanhoenacker recovers its metaphysics.” —The New Yorker
“Vanhoenacker’s passionate and beautifully written book will remind even the most jaded traveller of the wonder of flight.” —The Sunday Times (UK)
“A masterpiece of time, distance, palm trees, frosty mornings, lofty ambition and self-effacing charm.” —Monocle
“A 747 pilot with a poetic streak. . . . The writing makes flying feel as amazing at it really is.” —
“A description of what it’s like to fly by a commercial pilot who is also a master prose stylist and a deeply sensitive human being. . . . This couldn’t be more highly recommended.” —Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life
“Vanhoenacker makes [flying] wondrous again.” —London Evening Standard
“[Skyfaring] never loses sight of how beautiful it is to soar above the clouds. . . . [Vanhoenacker’s] writing is fluid and elegant.” —The New Statesman (UK)
“An author of real distinction with a genuinely poetic sensibility as well as a memorable turn of phrase.” —The Spectator
“Vanhoenacker makes [flying] wondrous again.” —London Evening Standard
“A skilful meditation on the glories of traversing the earth at the helm of mankind’s greatest technological achievement. . . . You’ll quickly find yourself in thrall to Vanhoenacker’s marvellous prose.” —GQ (UK)
“Through prose as passionate and erudite as it is informative, [Vanhoenacker] describes not merely the mechanical workings of flight, but will rekindle, in those who care to listen, a lost appreciation for the marvel of global air travel.” —Patrick Smith, author of Cockpit Confidential

Product Details
ISBN: 9780804169714
ISBN-10: 0804169713
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Pages: 368
Language: English
Series: Vintage Departures