Bob Buck may not be as famous as Charles Lindbergh, but he's well known among aviators for setting flight-distance records in the 1930s, flying a B-17 in the Second World War, and finally, becoming a commercial airline pilot who logged more than 2,000 trips across the Atlantic Ocean. North Star over My Shoulder is Buck's memoir of a life spent in the skies. He shares plenty of cockpit wisdom: "A copilot can make a trip or ruin it; get someone who talks too much, gripes about the company, tries to impress you, tells long and boring anecdotes, or is overly aggressive in suggesting ways to run the flight, and the taste is unpleasant." He also answers the question he says nonpilots are most likely to ask him: How do you overcome jet lag? "You don't," he says. Buck addresses offbeat subjects, too, such as what an airline pilot does when one of his first-class passengers is irate about the lack of caviar on a long trip. Readers fascinated by flight will enjoy this book, both for its historical perspective on advances in aviation ("a time no one will ever experience again") and the good advice that springs from almost every page ("sitting low tends to make you level off a little too high, while sitting up high tends to make you fly into the ground and not level off enough"). Pilots will appreciate this book, as will anybody who has ever wondered what it's like to fly a plane. --John Miller
Captain Robert N. Buck retired from TWA after having flown well over two thousand Atlantic crossings and thirty-seven years of service as chief pilot and director of thunderstorm research. During World War II he was engaged in weather research for the U.S. Air Corps, for which he was awarded, as a civilian, the Air Medal by President Harry Truman. More recently, Buck has worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization -- the UN's body for aviation -- to develop a new plan of world airspace.
In North Star over My Shoulder, Bob Buck tells of a life spent up and over the clouds, and of the wonderful places and marvelous people who have been a part of that life. He captures the feel, taste, and smell of flying's great early era -- how the people lived, what they did and felt, and what it was really like to be a part of the world as it grew smaller and smaller. A terrific storyteller and a fascinating man, Bob Buck has turned his well-lived life into a delightful memoir for anyone who remembers when there really was something special in the air.
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