A Must Read Story For Any Aviation Geek

Filed Under: Media

The New York Times ran an awesome excerpt today from an aviation themed book. The book is called “Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot,” and it’s published by Mark Vanhoenacker, who is a senior first officer for British Airways on the 747.


If you’re a true aviation geek you’ll love this excerpt. It’s both educational, and, dare I say it, sensual. It’s perhaps the very definition of written “airplane porn.” 50 Shades of Planes, if you will.

Here’s a short excerpt from the excerpt:

A quarter of an hour later we reach the runway. I push the four thrust levers forward for an experience that repetition hasn’t dulled: the unfurling carpet of guiding lights that say here, the voice of the controller that says now; the sense, in the first seconds after the engines reach their assigned takeoff power, that this is only a curious kind of driving down an equally curious road.

But with speed comes a transition, the gathering sense that the wheels matter less and the flight controls on the wings and the tail matter more. In the cockpit we sense the airplane’s speed-born life to come in the air, we feel clearly that long before we leave the ground we are already flying along it, and as the lights of the runway start to alternate red and white to indicate its approaching end, as the four rivers of power that equal nearly a quarter of a million pounds of thrust unfurl over the runway behind us, I lift the nose.

As if we are only pulling out of a driveway, I turn right, toward Tokyo.

The timing of this is quite funny, as I flew a British Airways 747 earlier in the week, and during the flight was reading the inflight magazine. This guy was featured as the “pilot of the month,” so I read the story about him. Funny to see this just a few days later in the New York Times.


  1. It is indeed a great book: just got mine in the post and am already gripped. BA may not contribute much to the airline industry, but they sure produce good writers, if nothing else!

  2. I love it. I have been a passenger on planes for 40 years and no matter how many times I fly, and no matter how annoying, delayed, cancelled, crazy, cramped, hot, loud, noisy, or pissed off I am, I get over it the minute that plane starts its roll and that magical feeling hits. To be a pilot in control of such magic would certainly be amazing.

  3. Long before 9/11 I had the pleasure of setting in the cockpit of a BA 747 as we cruised over the Atlantic, it was an awesome experience with the view from the front. Earlier I was invited to set in the jump seat of a AA 707 landing in Reno on a charter flight. Being a private pilot enabled me to get those invitations, too bad that’s forever changed.

  4. His book is released in the U.S. on 6/2. I’m sure if you reach out to his publisher they’d love to set up an interview. That would make an awesome post.

  5. @Mark F, I completely agree with you. It’s a magical feeling. Sitting, in a chair, in the sky, 30,000 feet above the earth, hopefully having a nice drink, looking out the window and seeing nothing and everything at the same time. Simply magic!

  6. My goodness, he has such a way with words that captivates you, he takes you into the book and makes you feel like you’re in that cockpit piloting the plane.

    I haven’t bought it, but I think that if you are an AV Geek, it’s a must.

  7. That was cool!! ….I mean awesome 😀 I’m going to order a copy right now!


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