I live in a world that revolves around aviation, so I was very excited to read this memoir. Piloting a charter plane in Alaska means you are flying in what can be harsh conditions. It also means flying by sight, unusual cargo (everything from dogs to dead bodies) and it can mean some pretty risky situations for the pilot and the crew. I was immediately drawn into the book by Colleen Mondor’s writing style; it is straightforward but the feelings she had for the people and the place really came through. You get an opportunity to look into a unique way of life and see all that is beautiful and awful about the pilots, what brought them to Alaska, and how they ended up flying these planes.
One aspect that I find very appealing is that you don’t have to be an aviation buff to enjoy this book. The experiences of the pilots go beyond simply flying and are full of adventure, sorrow, laughter and even death. It is a way of life for them. Many of the stories stayed with me, but one in particular, about a young girl who was overdosing, left me shaking my head. (I won’t spoil the story, but it wasn’t what I expected at all.) When I finished reading this book, I had to remind myself that this was actually about real people and that these people, or those like them, are still flying and some are still not making it back. It is a world that is very different from my comfortable suburban existence, which made it all the more fascinating to me. This is a wonderful book and I can think of several people on my list who will find it in their stocking this Christmas.