Take-off: almost a ton of inert matter transformed by the pilot as it lifts off the runway into a thing of spirit and beauty. Take-off: lifting one's shadow off the earth, entering a new element where movement is the very condition for existence, for, as the author observes, 'in life, to choose the wrong wife or the wrong lift is conventionally viewed as being matters of varying gravity, but in piloting an aircraft an act of petty oversight, due to the obvious but decisive fact that in flight there can be no stopping, could be fatal.'
The eight chapters of this book carry the reader up into the clouds, into a world governed by different laws where as we look through the cockpit window -- and into our own souls -- we see the earth below, and our own lives, under a new angle and with a painful new clarity. Whether he is reliving his first solo flight or a frightening experience as he pilots a light aircraft through storm clouds, his training and his instincts constantly at odds, or the mysterious loss of an airliner on an international flight, or the brief, adrenaline-charged lives of Italian torpedo-bombers in World War Two, Del Giuldice focuses on the edge of experience in which a person learns to take nothing, but nothing, for granted. While Take-Off has much of the charm, humour and poetry to be found in the best of Saint-Exupery (whose last flight is evoked in the final chapter), it will also remind the reader of Robert Pirsig's classic Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance by its close focus on the question of how the mind approaches problem-solving.
Format: Paperback, first impression
Year published: 1996
Sub-genre: Historical fiction, literary fiction, essays.
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