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No Visible Horizon: Surviving the World's Most Dangerous Sport Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 20, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ramo, a senior editor at Time magazine, is an aerobatic flyer, and his book chronicles his experiences from first learning how to pilot a small plane to his trips around the world competing in this sport. Although he describes his feelings-fear, nausea, dizziness, near blindness from the sudden movements-in great detail, Ramo also explores the accomplishments of other pilots, including some of their last flights. One of the more poignant anecdotes involves the death of the husband of a female pilot whom Ramo had introduced to his father. Ramo thought the woman could reassure his father about the safety of the planes: "Julie explained to my father what made the sport safe. She told him how, by paying such careful attention to our planes, we tried to remove as much of the risk as possible.... My good, sensitive father was reduced to tears, thinking of Julie's lost happiness." This is a fluid book, but it lacks the compelling story of, say, Into Thin Air. Because aerobatic flying is not a sport widely followed, the book's audience may be limited.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This tribute to aerial acrobatics (the kind of flying you see at air shows), written by a Time, Inc., editor and addicted flier, should appeal to anyone interested in the airborne arts. The book is edge-of-your-seat exciting (it begins with the author about to execute an ill-timed maneuver, absolutely sure he has just managed to kill himself). Along with accounts of his own flying adventures, Ramo introduces some of the greats of aerobatics--masters of all the rolls and dives and spins that are the basis of this visually stunning sport--and describes, with remarkable eloquence, the strange, poetic bond between a pilot and his aircraft, a relationship that turns man and machine into a single entity. Unlike many "extreme sports" books, which are written by people whose knowledge is based on research and interviews, this one is written by someone who really does this stuff. Ramo's point of view gives the book an energy that no armchair expert could possess. First-rate high-skies adventure. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743229509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743229500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,631,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joshua Cooper Ramo is managing director at Kissinger Associates, one of the world's leading geostrategic advisory firms. Before entering the advisory business, Ramo was foreign editor and assistant managing editor of Time magazine. He divides his time between Beijing and New York, and served as China analyst for NBC during the 2008 Olympics. Ramo cochaired the Santa Fe Institute's first working group on Complexity and International Affairs and was a Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, a founder of the U.S.-China Young Leaders Program, and a Global Leader for Tomorrow of the World Economic Forum. Trained as an economist, he holds degrees from the University of Chicago and New York University

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Many of us in the aerobatic community feel that this book plays to sensational stereotypes of daredevil flying, which is not an accurate portrait of most aerobatic pilots. Ramo also uses faulty statistics to quantify the dangers involved, vastly undercounting the number of participants in the sport.
Ramo's attitudes are the sort that get people killed, as illustrated by his anecdote of starting a downward maneuver a mere 700 feet above the ocean. In point of fact pilots who observe routine safety precautions -- like maintaining a safe altitude -- are not subject to Ramo's "one mistake and you're dead" mantra.
There are some good books about aerobatics, but this is not one of them. Try Patty Wagstaff's "Fire and Air", "Basic Aerobatics" and "Advanced Aerobatics" by Szurovy & Goulian, or Alan Cassidy's "Better Aerobatics" instead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Captain Classical on October 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed with this book. The topic of aerobatic pilots and their unique planes sounded like it would be a fast, smooth read. Instead, though I found myself interested in the author's brief descriptions of aeobatic flying, the balance of the book left me cold.
The reader is introduced to dozens of famous aerobatic pilots but one never gets to really know any of them on a personal level. Their flying technique is well-described but I finally started feeling a detached, who-cares attitude. The book should have included some diagrams of the various aerobatic stunts to help the reader picture the stunts. Without this, I couldn't picture what was being described. Some photos of the many famous planes mentioned in the book would have been welcome too.
The author is a columnist for Time magazine and herein may be the problem with this book. No Visible Horizon reads more like a collection of columns than a cohesive, well-structured book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is sure gonna be a contraverisal book.
This is a book which is likely to irritate competition pilots who like to present aerobatics as a lower risk than it's generally perceived - in order to .. increase acceptance.. and maybe make their wives feel better?
It's also the type of book that will bore most people who are new to aerobatics - and left my wife stone cold.. and anxious.
Tough! I loved it.
Yes, it's dramatic and over the top, and made my wife ill with worry the next time I flew - but it was aimed perfectly at me.. and for the first time in a long time I felt I had found some material which explained how I "feel" about the sport .. the passion behind it, which I have always found hard to describe.
I believe few pilots will be left unmoved by the sheer gritty intensity of it - and those that say it's an inaccurate and irresponsible represetnation of the real life, should chill and let their heair down for once. Be honest, and accept that despite all the discipline and control they insist they have, and live by, an element of wild unrestrained joy of fear is definitely there .. in all our hearts.. if not, go fly your boring boeing!
I thought it was great, and have bought several copies for people who know me - and I can finally articulate how I feel to others.. thanks Joshua!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George B. Norris on January 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is not anything close to what I experienced flying competitive aerobatics, nor does it represent outlook or experience of the vast majority of aerobatic pilots I know. The opening story about the split-S at or below 1000 feet above the ocean into a cloud deck pretty much set the tone for the rest book ... this is not something anyone I know would ever consider doing, much less repeating in a public forum!
There is a huge difference (in visual appeal to the observer on the ground, in pilot risk, in flying technique, and in the motivations of the pilot flying) between flying airshows and aerobatic competitions and this book does not make that clear in any way. Not very many current competitive pilots fly airshows and vice versa (Kirby Chambliss is an extraordinary pilot and a very notable exception). Most airshow pilots are ex-competition pilots and very much in the minority. Any airshow pilot faces far higher risks in order to put the aircraft close to the ground and to impress a non-technical audience on the ground. Note that the best way to offend the responsible recreational or competitive aerobatic pilot (the vast majority) is to call him or her a "stunt pilot". Unless they're one of the very small minority stupid enough to casually maneuver very close to the ground ... in which case that's what they are, not aerobatic pilots nor airshow pilots, but "stunt" (as in dumb) pilots!

For a realistic view into the world of the "average" competitive aerobatic pilot (not airshow pilot), their motivations and their attitude towards risk, read "One Zero Charlie: Adventures in Grass Roots Aviation" by Laurance Gonzales (still available used).
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "pitts_pilot" on July 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No Visible Horizon boasts a cover reminiscent of Richard Bach's works, but you can't judge a book by its cover.
Sergei is a phenomenal coach, Phil is a heckuva competitor, and Leo was a champion's champion. Other than that, the author and I disagree on much of the aerobatic world. I'm a current aerobatic competitor, instructor, and coach, and have flown as a member of three air show teams. Aerobatics has been my livelihood for two decades. I can repsect the author's perception of aerobatic flying, but do not think it reflects the viewpoints of most aerobatic pilots I know. Unfortunately, it does fit a common misconception that pilots who engage in aerobatics are reckless. In that, the book does aerobatics a great disservice.
Getting lost in a well-written book is magical. Discovering a well-written book about flying is doubly so--the mystique and beauty of flight have rightfully fascinated the human race for centuries. What delights me about Richard Bach's treatment of flight, or Beryl Markham's, or Antoine Saint-Exupery's, or Anne Morrow Lindbergh's, is their unabashed enthusiasm. Their writing could easily be about the love of one's life, strong with wonder and awe and humility. These are great writers.
Ramo, on the other hand, writes about aerobatics as though bragging of some cheap and tawdry "one-night-stand." The story seems to be more about conquest than passion, more about dominance than love. There's a gratuitous sensationalism, and egocentricity, that makes it read like a tabloid. The physics of aerobatics as presented are flawed. There were inaccuracies in several areas with which I have first-hand experience, and it made me question the accuracy of the rest of the book as well.
I wanted to like this book because of the subject matter, but I cannnot recommend it. I'm just glad a read a borrowed copy instead of buying one.
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