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Inside the Sky: a meditation on flight

3.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Vintage/ Random (1998)
  • ASIN: B003TOD2G8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy G. Buchman on July 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This lyrical collection of essays by an accomplished airman illuminates the pilot's soul as much as his environment. The essays on "The Turn" and the Air-India disaster are masterworks, not because they apply to the JFK Jr. tragedy but rather because they speak to the ever-changing relationship between pilots and their sky.
The reader should not be discouraged by the first essay in the volume, a meditation on perspective which probably is better read last. Rather, skip to others and absorb how the author's adopted home--the sky--has enveloped his predecessors, his contemporaries and himself.
Other reviewers have compared William to his father, Wolfgang Langewiesche. The comparison is unfair to both men. "Inside the Sky" is no more a manual of flight than "Stick and Rudder" is a meditation on the topic. Readers, airmen or not, are the richer for the writings of father and son.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first thing I've read by William Langewiesche. The closer you are to aviation, I believe, the more you will like it. As a pilot for 30 years, Langewiesche writes what I would, if I had his incredible ability with words. He captures so much of what how flying changes those who pursue it as their passion. Some other reviewers suggest he rambles a bit, but I felt everything was connected and after all, the subtitle is "Meditations on Flight".
I can't overstate how much I enjoyed this book. Flying is so much more that just piloting an airplane through the sky and Langewieche captures all this better than anyone else I've ever read.
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By A Customer on July 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The author, a self-described "child of the sky," writer of two well-received travel books and correspondent to the Atlantic, here offers seven essays exploring and demonstrating the literal and metaphoric "view from above." The essays illustrate the importance of people as a part of geography, the necessity of intimacy and trust for accurate perception, and, more practically, the limits of man's efforts to control the weather, the sky, and, finally, himself. The book is at its best describing events such as the Valujet crash, or in dense journalistic passages on the relationship between the FAA and air traffic controllers, the Fujita scale, or chaos theory. His digressions remind one of John Mc Phee in their spare complexity. At its worst, the distant and sometimes jargon-filled prose only confuses or condescends to his landlocked readers. The reader does not come to know the author, it must be assumed, by his own design. The author seems to see himself as above--exotic, more honest, in sum, betterthan his non-flying readers, or many of his subjects (he is particularly patronizing to tourists). The flying novice would have an easier time reading through to the truly wonderful parts if the author were more accessible. Pilots and pilot wannabes will love the book, however, if flying is a way of thinking, as the author contends, it is not a way of thinking he has made particularly attractive.
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Format: Paperback
An insightful dissertation on both the technology of aviation and the meaning of flight. The chapters on "The Turn" and "On a Bombay Night" tell of one of the basic challenges facing man in his journey into the sky. A challenge comparable to that of determining longitude at sea as told by Dava Sorbel in "Longitude". Organizational management and systems thinking is touched on in chapters about Air Traffic Control, the FAA, and the Valujet crash. Chapter 2, the "Stranger's Path" may tend to divert one from continuing, but read on, or skip it because the other remaining chapters are worth the effort. William Langewiesche has given us a book that alternates between a personal, intimate view of flying and a broader view of aviation as perhaps the archetype of 20th century discoveries, technologies, and systems.
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By A Customer on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. I read it on the plane which seemed a fitting place to be led through experiences of someone who really knew the sky.
This book contains not only meditations but also technical information that will keep your interest to the end. I came away feeling I had learned something new in more ways than one about the space above and my interest in aviation has been boosted by this book. Each chapter leaves plenty of room for meditating on that certain aspect leaving at the end a panoramic view of the world above.
People of all levels of interest in aviation should read this book: from the person afraid of flying as it explains in realistic terms what causes trouble in flight in a manner that neither glosses over the facts that accidents do happen or scare the dickens out of you, to pilots who inhabit the sky more than the ground by renewing or boosting their love for the world above.
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Format: Paperback
With the subtitle "Meditations on Flight," this promised to be a thoughtful look at the wonder of flight, or something along those lines. As a reader of Atlantic Monthly for many years, I knew that William Langewiesche had been writing articles for them about aviation. I remembered one article especially, Slam and Jam, about air traffic control, that I read when it first appeared in the magazine in 1997. I was an air traffic controller at the time and read the entire piece with great interest, remarking to colleagues that I thought it was quite a well-balanced look at the conflict between union and management. My colleagues disagreed.
Six years later, and four years after I left air traffic control, I reread the article which appears as one of the seven chapters in Inside the Sky. This time around, the article didn't seem quite as even-handed to me. While Langewiesche doesn't seem to find either management or the union admirable, he really does a number on the controllers, belittling the work they do.
I could go on about Slam and Jam, but I really don't imagine that anyone outside the business of commercial flight would be interested in it in any case. If I hadn't had a professional interest in the subject, I doubt I would have read the article at all.
There are two chapters devoted to air crashes. Even as someone who has more than an average interest in aviation, I do not care to dwell on air crashes and other disasters. I read them when they first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, and did not feel compelled to read them again. It seems that Langewiesche has made a second career (after a career as a pilot) of examining crashes and other disasters, which is a shame.
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