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Flight of Passage: A Memoir Paperback – May 27, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writer Rinker Buck looks back more than 30 years to a summer when he and his brother, at ages 15 and 17 respectively, became the youngest duo to fly across America, from New Jersey to California. Having grown up in an aviation family, the two boys bought an old Piper Cub, restored it themselves, and set out on the grand journey. Buck is a great storyteller, and once you get airborne with the boys you find yourself absorbed in a story of adventure and family drama. And Flight of Passage is also an affecting look back to the summer of 1966, when the times seemed much less cynical and adventures much more enjoyable. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In July 1966, Rinker and Kernahan Buck flew a Piper Cub from New Jersey to California, becoming?at ages 15 and 18, respectively?the youngest pilots then to cross the country. This abridged version of Rinker's memoirs discusses the flight in the context of the complex relationships between the two brothers and their father, Tom Buck. Tom, barnstormer, magazine editor, and political activist, taught both to fly. However, his strong personality overshadowed his sons. Kern, shy and sensitive, and Rink, rebellious and socially outgoing, learned to trust each other while facing harsh Pennsylvania weather, rough crop dusters, and a dangerous crossing of the Rocky Mountains. Appearing along the way are the population of tiny airports, small-town diners, and the underlying tension of Vietnam-era America. At the end, the brothers reach a greater understanding of each other and establish their own identities independent of their father. Rinker's narration of his own story is wonderful. This warm book will interest both aviation enthusiasts and listeners fascinated by the complex relationships between brothers and fathers and sons. For all audio collections.?Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib., Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (May 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786883154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786883158
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Irving on January 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Flight of Passage is an amazing book. I picked it up in 1998 when I saw the cover picture of a Piper Cub. I had flown a bunch of "orientation flights" in a Cub when I was a teenager in Civil Air Patrol in the late sixties. Although it was not official flight instruction, cadets were allowed to do everything but land the airplane. I learned a lot and loved every minute of it - flying low and slow with the door open, learning the basic air work, even the smell of the engine oil on a hot summer day. I wanted to be a pilot, but college, music, work, and marriage led me on a few different paths until my late forties, when I finally started taking flight lessons.

Events at the time were making it difficult to keep the lessons going, and reading this book inspired me to keep at it even if I had to take a few breaks from the lessons. The teenage Buck brothers did a lot more with their Cub than I ever did, but the book sure brought back the memories and the romance of flying. Rinker Buck creates a vivid picture of the life and times of his interesting family and of the late 1960's, in addition to writing one of the best "you are there" flying adventures I have ever read. Highly recommended even if you are not a big fan of flying books - it's a really good read.

But for me, the book had an even bigger role to play. I happened to meet Kern Buck at a Jiffy-Lube in Massachusetts in 1999. I overheard his name and asked him if he was related to the "Flight of Passage" boys, and he said he was Rinker Buck's brother, the pilot in the book! We talked for a while about flying, and it turns out that he had just updated his flight instructor certification after a break of a few years (he is an attorney now, working in the Boston area).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
"Flight of Passage" goes deep within the human heart of brothers, sons and fathers. It is not often in this day and age that we are given this masculine insight of two brothers and their love for each other. Nor, are we given such a privleged look into the relationship of a father and his sons.
The airplane (espcially the Piper Cub) is a metaphor. The boys learn how to cherish life, to be good men, to be good citizens in fact from their work on this small airplane as it cruises across the United States.
And, do they cross the U.S.! Strangly we are given the rare opportunity to see our nation from the air, with the eyes of teenagers who believe in themselves, their dad and their Piper Cub. We meet the men and women of America as the Piper lands in strange little airports in the midwest, the south west and the California coast. Not only do they fly out, they fly back to New Jersey. What the brothers discover is the grandness of this country, qualities that bind this country together, and the things that make each region unique.
This is not a travelogue. This is a coming of age story that touches the heart -- deeply.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Rowe Hill on December 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
With a father, three brothers, two sisters-in-law, a niece, and several nephews who fly or have flown or soloed, and a few hours toward soloing myself, this book had instant appeal for me. Brother Jim's wife, Chris, recommended it to me and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Rinker Buck does a grand job of telling his story; the whole story not just the mind-boggling, spectacular flight across the country he and his brother, Kern, took as teenagers. The book is well written; easy and absorbing to read. This is not a book you will want to read quickly. I have not finished it and am in no hurry to do so. The story is to be savored; parts read and re-read. There are some photographs included which always adds to the appeal of a story about real people. (Two of my brothers soloed at 16. With a ten-year age difference between them, the older one soloed the younger one. It made all the local papers.)

The relationship between the boys and their father is compelling, as is the fact that this is a family of eleven children, which makes for a pretty terrific mother, as well as a barnstorming, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pilot for a father.

Read and enjoy!

Carolyn Rowe Hill
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tony Watson on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Not so much a story about 2 mid-teenagers flying from coast to coast across America, but more the story of strained relations between brothers and between father and sons. It took over 25 years for Rinker Buck to get all this organised in his head, then put it on paper, but it was worth waiting for. What we get is the straight story, from his point of view, of the preparations and the journey, the turnaround in relations between him and brother Kern, and the two of them dealing with the expectations of a larger-than-life father who, perhaps secretly, wished to relive fame through the exploits of his sons. Told against the backdrop of ariel incidents, we find that the ebullient schoolboy prankster has to take (literally) a back seat to his shy, reclusive older brother, who suddenly comes out of his shell. It never descends into maudlin, or goes over-the-top, it is a straight from the shoulder account of the trip and the souring and cementing of relationships - a damn fine read.
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