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Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter Paperback – October 11, 2011
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Cluj, Romania, 2009
Wind is suddenly screaming into the cockpit of this aging Antonov biplane. Charts and a half-assed, handwritten flight plan whip by my face and through the cockpit door into the main cabin. In the rear of the plane our director of photography, Evan, who has been filming out the open door, is suddenly thrust forward toward the edge of open space, only to be yanked to a stop by his four-point harness. Documents eject past him and into oblivion.
The sound is deafening and the pressure change so abrupt that I try to brace my arm against the roof to steady myself. Instead, my hand is forcefully bent back by what feels like icicles slicing through my fingers, and I instinctively retract.
Open air. I’m immediately overwhelmed by a terrible realization. The cockpit ceiling is gone.
Our audio engineer, Mike, has the common sense to kick the pilot’s door shut from his first-row seat behind me, closing off the wind tunnel coursing through the interior of the plane and sealing me into the roofless cockpit.
Moments ago I was actually bored, fiddling with a camcorder to get a close-up of the plane’s antiquated controls and weathered gauges, the altimeter needle quivering from the vibration of the plane’s beleaguered engine. The pilot, a stout Russian in a thick wool sweater, was languidly operating the stick. Now I’m craning back to get a view of the tail stabilizer through the gaping maw above me, praying the debris from the roof hasn’t clipped it on the way by. I think twice about unbuckling my harness for a better look and instead concentrate on the ground below, which is getting closer by the second.
I probably shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, of course. As the host of the Syfy Channel’s Destination Truth, I’ve spent the last four years traveling to far-flung locales following reports of cryptozoological creatures and paranormal phenomena. Since there aren’t exactly nonstop commercial flights leading directly to the doorsteps of the world’s most enduring mysteries, I’ve made a career, such as it is, out of flying on board the planet’s most laughably derelict aircraft.
But even by my admittedly lax standards, this plane is a piece of shit. I arrived at the airfield (and I do mean field) after two straight days of begging our field producer, Allison, to procure a plane—any plane—that could take us up and over the purportedly haunted Hoia Baciu Forest, the subject of our current episode. After exhausting every possible charter from here to Bucharest, she managed to find this flying Russian coffin and offered a few bucks to a local pilot to coax it back into active service.
The Antonov An-2 is not the sort of plane most people would agree to climb aboard in the first place. Basically unchanged since its design in 1946, it has wings covered in fabric, not metal. The plane is a flying dinosaur, originally intended for agricultural use. A function it might still fulfill as it threatens to fertilize nearby farms with the remains of my crew.
It is common in moments of potentially fatal catastrophe for the world to close in around us and become much smaller. Disaster is often countermanded by an intense focus, even if it happens to resolve on strange and seemingly arbitrary details. Looking over at the captain, I’m suddenly engrossed by his bald head. Where once there was a comical comb-over, there is now this emancipated ribbon of hair dancing in the vortex and joyfully reaching up to the heavens. It looks like one of those inflatable noodles outside a used-car dealership. Like any pilot worth his salt, though, he seems utterly unfazed by his new coif or by our circumstances in general. Where can one buy a little of that Right Stuff bravado required to shrug off the fact that your airplane is now a convertible?
When Captain Chesley Sullenberger famously ditched that crippled US Airways jet in the Hudson River after a flock of geese turned themselves into engine-flavored pâté, it barely seemed to raise his pulse. He casually noted to air traffic control, “We’re gonna be in the Hudson,” as though he was stopping off there for a cup of coffee. My distress call would have consisted of a jumbled litany of swearwords arranged in no particular order followed by an ecstatic, “Holy JESUS we’re going to crash into a river! MOMMY!” During this particular aviation mishap, I do my best to stay calm and not soil my pants. This is the best I can muster under the circumstances, and I’m feeling fairly heroic about it.
The pilot adjusts the flaps and begins to bank around toward an open field. Time continues to slow down, and I think about the circumstances that brought me to this moment.
How did it come to this? How on earth did I end up here, plummeting in a partially disassembled biplane toward some anonymous field in Romania? A few years ago this would have been inconceivable. But now it’s just another day at the office. I manage to catch the pilot’s gaze for only a moment; above the din he leans over and yells, “We must go back.”
Indeed. We must. Five years, to be exact.
© 2011 Universal City Studios Productions, LLLP.
Top Customer Reviews
It's loaded with tips on travel and can inspire any homebody to want to get out and explore. You don't have to hop on a plane. You can take a day trip to a town, any town really, and have a mini adventure all your own. The show may have something to do with legendary critters and ghosts, but the book really gets you in the mood to get up and go. For those who can't travel for whatever reason or excuse can live vicariously through Josh and the DT crew. This book will leave you wanting to know more about our world and other cultures. It's a great look inside the people and the experience of one helluva guy. There's snark, there's personality, and a few curse words but it's all part of what makes Josh and Destination Truth that much fun. I could read this book over and over and still laugh, giggle, and face palm just as I did the first time. Read it slow. Savor it. Enjoy it. Read it again. It's well worth the money.
His stories are immediately engaging. The rich sensory details he provides, along with hand-written journal notes and crisp photography, give you the distinct feeling of accompanying him on his journeys. For better or for worse.
I must stress that Josh Gates isn't going to offer tangible proof in anything paranormal, but in that sense, nobody can - you either believe it or you don't. But this book overflows with the adventures of the journey; from Europe to Mexico to Los Angeles to Chernobyl to Boston. It's not so much about any concrete paranormal discoveries, but more about the eye-opening personal discoveries along the way, on a global scale.
He inspires you to want to break out of your own comfy little nook in the world and go out to explore it, in the ways of a wanderer, rather than a constricted confines of a touristy destination vacation.
I'll read this book over and over, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
As soon as I saw he was releasing a book, it was pre-ordered.
Here's the thing. I don't read. I don't like to read. I never have.
But here's the other thing...
Since this book arrived on Tuesday, I haven't put it down. It's just too much fun.
Josh writes in a way that is very similar to how he narrates the show. The elements of humor are so prevalent that I have found myself laughing out loud quite often while reading about the adventures.
What I really like was the back story about Josh and how he got started on this wonderful show. I never knew how overweight he was. I never knew he had a degree in drama...and archaeology. I never knew that he set a goal for himself of climbing Kilimanjaro. These are all things that are revealed in the first few chapters of the book.
Again, I can't stress how much fun the book is. It's just a blast to read. I find myself reading many of the pages and actually imagining Josh himself narrating what I'm reading.
Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone that's a fan of the show, a fan of monster hunting, or a fan of hilarious travel logs.
Josh Gates has hit a home run with this book, and I look forward to future endeavors by him as an author.
Omg the paperback quality (yes, the actual physical quality of this book) is so well done and detailed that I immediately was furious that I had a digital copy and not this gem!
So not only is this brilliantly written in the most clever and insightful funny "Josh Gates" way, it happens to also be the coolest paperback binding that I've seen in a long time!
Thank you Mr. Gates and damn you Kindle!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Told what happens behind and beyond the scenes of some of your favorite episodes as well as personal antidotes from Josh!Published 24 days ago by INGE FLYNN
Regardless of how you feel about potential mythological monsters, this book (along with the original TV show of the same title) is wonderful. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cathie
Josh Gates is a funny, smart, and crazy dude who does some things that cause me to question his sanity. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Todd
Fun entertaining easy read. Pick up this book and enjoy the adventure.Published 1 month ago by E. L. Jackson
Not only does this book contain great stories of travel and culture, but also included is the impeccable sense of humor of Josh Gates. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Austin Duncan
This is a great book, masterfully written. Right away i was drawn into the stories and the characters really came to life in this book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mark Long
Josh is funny, daring, and a great read. I love learning about the behind-the-scenes information, and how he got where he is now. Fabulous book!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer