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Inside the Sky: A Meditation on Flight Paperback – June 29, 1999
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And it is chiefly flight's workings on our perceptions and our imagination that interests Langewiesche. "Flying at its best is a way of thinking.... It lets us see ourselves in context, as creatures struggling through life on the face of a planet, not separate from nature, but its most expressive agents. It lets us see that our struggles form patterns on the land, that these patterns repeat to an extent which before we had not known, and that there is a sense to them." Flying has, in fact, changed humankind's perception of itself. Discussing the borderlands along the Rio Grande, Langewiesche points out that from the air it is impossible to disregard the great differences in wealth and environment between Mexico and the United States:
"The narrowness of the view is a problem particular to the ground. Few tourists ever went to Presidio, but those who did often got the astonishing impression that the border there hardly existed. Residents, too, because they freely forded the river, could share that illusion. But from the air the view always widens.... What the ordinary aerial view really shows is exactly the opposite of a unified world."
Langewiesche writes eloquently and at length about flight's influence on politics, environmentalism, culture, and human psychology, punctuating these musings with fascinating accounts of real people--everyone from Otto Lilienthal, a 19th-century German engineer who died while testing a hang glider, to Walton Little, a computer engineer and private pilot who happened to be an eyewitness to the 1996 Valujet air disaster. Bad weather, crowded airports, plane crashes, and the physics of flying all form part of the tapestry as Langewiesche weaves history, science, philosophy, and his own experiences as a pilot into this tough, tender paean to the miracle of flight. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mr. Langewiesche is quite a brilliant gentleman. This book is both interesting and odd. I doubt that everyone would find this book to be an enjoyable read, though I did. Read morePublished 14 months ago by K. Thurm
The author seemed to be preoccupied with himself and his thesaurus.Published 19 months ago by J. Amos
Not the escapism I hoped for.
For those of you who insist on reading this, do so at your own risk: while the book has its moments, and brings you into the cockpit of... Read more
I love this book. Years ago I had read his fathers amazing,"Stick and Rudder", the ultimate primer for a budding pilot, as I was learning to fly. Read morePublished on August 16, 2009 by M. Walton
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. Read morePublished on July 19, 2002
This book chagned the way I think about flying. In general it is well written and has the added value of being written by someone who is obviously intimately familiar with the... Read morePublished on May 21, 2001 by Joshua Hershberg
Langewiesche is a gifted writer. It is a daunting task to put into words the emotion and spirit involved in flying, but he does a fantastic job of adding spiritual dimension to... Read morePublished on October 18, 2000
Some of the puzzlement generated by this book and expressed in the reviews may be generated by the fact of Langewiesche's genre. Read morePublished on September 12, 2000 by Edward G. Nilges
An collection of essays united mainly by their general theme of perspective, this book reminded me of John McPhee's work, except that the author is both a flyer and a writer, and... Read morePublished on April 24, 2000