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Free Flight: Inventing the Future of Travel Paperback – September 3, 2002
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In Free Flight, Fallows details an "impending, potentially broad change" in how we travel--one that he compares to the introduction of the car. This shift involves the use of small planes that "offer much of the speed, and as much as possible of the safety, of the big airlines, but at a small fraction of the cost of today's corporate jets." In this new world, people would either buy their own planes or hire piloted air-taxi services for no more than current coach fares. These planes would fly as directly as possible from one destination to another, taking advantage of the 18,000 small airports and landing strips currently available across the country.
Focusing on the colorful personalities and visionary designers leading this nascent transportation revolution, Fallows looks at the opportunities and obstacles small-plane manufacturers are likely to face. A national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a recreational pilot, Fallows is both knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Portions of the book will appeal mainly to flight enthusiasts and venture capitalists, but the bulk is interesting enough to hold the attention of those who are neither. And it's short enough that you can read it cover-to-cover the next time you're stuck at a hub. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is chock-a-block full of hard news that should replace the dull, familiar tag lines we always hear at the end of TV news reports on air traveller's nightmares, lines like "It'll only get worse before it gets better," or "Only this summer's busy travel days will tell.." Instead, we could soon be hearing about the new travel-on-demand systems that could take you, affordably, from Omaha to El Paso without passing through busy, congested DFW. Or we could be seeing demos of the parachute drop of the new little Cirrus plane (from the book jacket) that safely delivers passengers from the ill-fated JFK, Jr.-type scenario.
Fallows is a small-plane pilot himself, and his passion for flying drives this book. It's easy-to-read and even funny. It dispels a lot of myths and explains away a lot of primal fears about stepping into small planes. It will fit right into your carry-on on your next trip. Buy it and pack it; you'll have lots of time to read it.
To the extent that the book spends much time at all on the topic of modern air travel, many of the author's contentions seem outright silly. Fallows devotes dozens of pages (and the book's cover) to the Cirrus SR20 in the belief that it will have a major impact on the future of air travel. Granted, the Cirrus is a fantastic aircraft, but it designed for GA needs and simply not suitable for commercial operation (total number of SR20s in use by commercial carriers: ZERO). True, a new breed of airplanes are reinventing air travel, but these "regional" aircraft are from companies such as Bombardier and Embraer, which sell hundreds of airplanes to fast-growing carriers like SkyWest and Mesaba. Fallows simply never establishes his main point, that GA will have a leading role in improving air travel, and he ignores altogether the many new companies and aircraft that are slowly improving what the author calls "Airline Hell".
As a pilot and aviation enthusiast I found several enjoyable moments in "Free Flight". However, I suspect the broader audience the author seeks will find little in the way of contributions to the air travel discussion, and may simply be left wondering how the normally excellent James Fallows could have produced such a confusing mess.
In *Free Flight* Fallows reveals himself to be an enthusiastic promoter of general aviation. Fallows begins by helping readers unfamiliar with small airplanes understand a little bit about the strange world of private pilots and their buzzy little machines. He paints a clear picture of the world of aviation enthusiasts--and what it potentially has to offer to the general public.
The book is devoted primarily to the topic of research and development that has been going on since the early 90s aimed at making small airplanes safer and more accessible to the general population.
The book closely examines two new aircraft manufacturers at the forefront of these developments (Cirrus Design and Eclipse Aviation) as well as some of the visionaries within NASA and other government agencies who have been promoting a concept of safe, affordable travel between secondary airports that skirts the congestion and delays of today's hub-spoke airline system. Finally, Fallows chronicles a trip of his own in one of these advanced small airplanes.
Fallows skillfully avoids the worst of the aviation technical jargon, and brings the subject to life through portraits of some of the very interesting people at work in the field.
For all of his cheerleading for the future of accessible general aviation Fallows also gives a fairly realistic assessment of the risks to this vision, though he devotes far less ink to the negative side of his subject.
Whether you're an aviation enthusiast, private pilot, or just a frustrated airline passenger *Free Flight* has much to offer. Let's hope that the future is as bright as Fallows suggests it can be.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed the history lesson and now better understand some of the challenges of Cirrus and Eclipse Aircraft as they struggled in the early days toward their goals in a changing... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Donald Turrell
This is a fine summary of what was, at the turn of the century, considered a probable development: a nationwide system of "air taxis" built around fast, small jet aircraft... Read morePublished 23 months ago by J. Tabarlet
This is a very interesting book about how aviation could be much cheaper and much better. It is a little dated, published more than 10 years ago, and one of the companies featured,... Read morePublished on October 7, 2013 by Ralph Willington
The author of this book, James Fallows, is a journalist and private pilot. This book is his presentation of an alternate mode of air travel that he believes is coming into... Read morePublished on October 12, 2008 by Newton Ooi
The advent of the technologically innovative Klapmeier brother's Cirrus design brings new hope to the Gospel of flight. Read morePublished on May 27, 2007 by James Hoogerwerf
A well written review of the current horrors of commercial airline travel. Fallows hopes that GA ( non commercial ) developers and manufacturers can produce small planes which will... Read morePublished on January 11, 2006 by S. A Sayre
Free Flight, as outlined in other reviews, about the Cirrus Aircraft Co. and Eclipse Aircraft Co. Both are relatively new to the industry of building "certified"... Read morePublished on January 20, 2004 by Steve Carroll
I bought this book for a very practical reason. In the aftermath of 9-11 I was thinking about moving to Smith Mountain Lake, four hours drive to the South of Washington, D.C. Read morePublished on May 24, 2003 by Robert David STEELE Vivas