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Flying North, South, East and West: Arctic to the Sahara, by Terry Reece. iUniverse, Inc. 2007.
Reece had a connection with both the wilderness and the air since the very beginning.
Reece goes to college, and works as a logger, before getting married and moving to Alaska with his new bride to carve out a career in aviation. He arrives in Alaska in the early 1960s, just as the state is being opened up to oil exploration, and eventually gets a job flying cargo with Interior Airways (later Alaska International Air), which flourished during the building of the Alaska Pipeline.
It's all here - the hardships of living in the frozen north, when the winter temperature was regularly several degrees below zero, learning to fly various types of aircraft on the spur of the moment, dealing with passengers as well as freight, working with a company which will go from a small, family-run business to an impersonal corporation, from a company that flies throughout Alaska to one that flies around the world.
Reece's anecdotes of his flights all over the world are also a kind of history of Alaska International Air, which in order to keep its head above water took on flying cargo to Africa and the Middle East, and when this business fell by the wayside withdrawing back into Alaska, changing its name to MarkAir and turning into a passenger airline.
In thirty one chapters, Reece shares one anecdote or several about his adventures, both on the air and on the ground, from his first pilot lesson, to his time spent as a logger before college, to his first job at Interior Airways, to his retirement decades later.
There's a few hilarious stories of the many times Reece had to eat "humble pie," in particular the bad luck he'd had with three surveyors whom he'd been instructed to fly out to a remote site. That flight hadn't gone well, and, Alaska being as small, people-wise, as it is large as a country, he kept running into these three guys, with amusing results.
There are a few sad stories, as men he'd known for many years died in accidents in the wilderness that is Alaska, and a few poignant ones, such as his last hunting expedition with his father, and the day his daughter soloed for the first time.
If you're a commercial pilot -- flying a regularly scheduled passenger service, perhaps, you're sure to have longed to have changed places, for just a while, with the cargo jockeys you met on your own travels, with their tales of the opening of Alaska's frontier. You'll be immersed in that world in Terry's book, and enjoy every minute of the read.
So will any pilot, and anybody who loves aviation and adventure.
As an aside, it must be said that the photo reproductions in the book (and there are several photos) is not the best. However, the photos are also reproduced on his website (flyingnorth.com) and look wonderful there. There's also several bonus photos there that don't appear in the book.
I recommend this book highly.
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