Greatest Book on Flying Ever Written, (Is your life worth $16?)
May 25, 2013 1 Comment
Here is another opinion from me, man of a thousand opinions: Stick and Rudder is the greatest book ever written on how to fly planes, period. Unlike some of my other opinions, I am not alone in this one. While most people with a pilots license in their pocket have never heard of this book, virtually every single veteran aviator noted for his skill and experience holds the same opinion of this book. My 25 years of building planes and modest amount of hours doesn’t make me one of those “Old School” pilots, but I am smart enough to hold the same text sacred as they do.
To assist in the discussion of this book, I will use paraphrased comments that people have made to me over the years at Sun n Fun and Oshkosh when I bring up the point that the book only costs $16, and maybe half of the fatal accidents each year could be avoided if the deceased pilots had owned, read, and understood the contents of this 69-year-old book. The paraphrased peanut gallery comments are in blue italics.
“They must have written something better since. I think Rod Machado’s books are better because they are funny and entertaining.”
OK, let me start by saying I have nothing against Machado, but he isn’t in the same category. We are speaking on educational classics here, not comedy/entertainment/flying lite.
“But that Machado is such a character! He is so daring and out of the box! He is really bold.”
Now let’s just hold on a minute: One of my pet peeves is how Flying magazine and some elements in marketing the EAA have tried to make aviation less offensive, more family entertainment. They want every person pictured to be drawn from the pages of the J. Crew clothing catalog, clothed in khaki slacks and getting into their Cirrus or 912 powered S-LSA. Compared to those contrived marketing images, Machado is Keith Richards, but judged against real aviation characters, he is just another guy in Levis Dockers with a John Edwards haircut.
And now, a brief break from our sponsor, Real Aviation Character. Take this quiz: See how many of the 8 aviators of character below that you recognize. …
What an actual Character looks like #1.
Scoring: If you have heard of Machado but knew six or more of the Aviators of Character, you are in good shape, proceed as you are. – If you have read Machado’s books, but only identified 3 or 4 of the pictures, take warning: Do not read Flying, try to fly a Comanche 400 or radial powered plane soon. Throw away your Sporty’s catalog. Watch The Great Waldo Pepper or Thirty Seconds over Tokyo this week. – If you own Machado’s books but knew none of the images, you need serious help. You have been made a victim of the consumerism people who have told you that flying is about spending money, not learning, challenges, and personal achievements. Leave tonight for Cherry Grove, Minn., Pietenpol’s home town, and make it your aviation pilgrimage. Never speak to anyone with a Rotax 912 ever again. Fly in a biplane to Kitty Hawk, and look into the glass case at the little square of Wright Flyer fabric, carried to the surface of the moon and back by Neil Armstrong. Develop a plan on how your actions in aviation will show gratitude to those who came before you and gave you the possibilities you have. Do this today.