|Flight of Passage|
by: Rinker Buck
I'm still waiting to make my first flight of 2014. Winter wx has me shoveling snow followed by keeping warm by the fire with a good book and hot tea.
I kept seeing this title pop up in the "what are you reading" forum posts on a few flying forums that I frequent. I decided to download it on my new Kindle Fire (Christmas present) and dig into it. It's flying, it has to be good.
Flight of Passage falls right into that coming of age story of adventure and passing through to adulthood. The story takes place in the summer of 1966, Kern age 17 and Rinker age 15 restore a 1948 PA11 Piper Cub that they will fly from New Jersey to California.
Growing up was not easy in the Buck household. The entire family structure seemed odd to me with a Father who had issues he was dealing with and the other siblings did not seem to interact with each other. The Father, Tom Buck, was a magazine executive, and political activist who still defined himself by his once youthful occupation as a barnstormer. His professional flying ended when his plane crashed, killing his passenger and costing him a leg.
Tom would teach both his boys to fly. Kern was a pure stick and rudder pilot, a natural, while Rinker seemed to deal with flight by having to work at it. Kern would do most of the flying and Rinker would be the navigator for their cross country flight.
The book details their adventure facing harsh weather, rough crop dusters pilots, and a dangerous crossing of the Rocky Mountains. Flying until they run out of daylight, setting the cub down in a new state, meeting new people and trying to fit in was consuming. Sleeping under a wing at an out of the way grass strip airport, other times spending for a room at a cheap motel and eating at small town diners was the norm. The boys somehow managed to conserve their funds in order to make it through this trip. I could not imagine what it would cost today to make this cross country flight, and if the people they met along the way would be as helpful as they were back in the day.
Overall a very good read that I could not put down. The real story line is how the boys develop an understanding of each other and establish their own identities, overcoming their resentment and coming to terms with their father and his ways. This was the real passage that occurs in this book.