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Monday, November 18, 2013

Zero Three Bravo: Solo Across America in a Small Plane by Mariana Gosnell | LibraryThing

Zero Three Bravo: Solo Across America in a Small Plane by Mariana Gosnell | LibraryThing:

Sort of a Blue Highways of the Sky. Gosnell has a passion for flying, especially in small, single engine planes into uncontrolled airports. She describes the myriad of interesting characters she meets along the way, each with a unique story to tell, and she retells them well. 

She learned to fly in Africa where she and a friend had gone for several months. Since the only way to get around is by small plane, she was once flown from hither to yon in a small Cessna and a young woman pilot. Together they swooped down low over herds of elephants and other wildlife and scenery. Gosnell was enthralled and vowed to learn how to fly. 

Back in the states, she continued her lessons and purchased an old Luscombe, a very serviceable, if antique tail-dragger. (She discusses at length the advantages and disadvantages of the "conventional" v tricycle type landing gear.) 

Her stories reminded me of flights with my uncle when I was barely 10 (This was in the late fifties). He was in the Civil Air Patrol (which I also later joined as a radio officer -- but that's another story) and took me up in his Super Cub, many of which are still around.) Fun.

She beautifully captures the pathos, loneliness, and eccentricities of the people who man the small, often deserted, little airstrips around the country and the yearning many of them feel for the outside world. Particularly poignant was Laura, a thirty-five-year-old mother of Dawson, Georgia, who had learned to fly on a whim and now wanted nothing more to escape the parochialism of the small town where the goals and aspirations for women were pre-determined a century before. Ridiculed and shunned by the community for daring to do something women just don't do (fly a plane), she latched on to Gosnell as a symbol of freedom she didn't have the courage enough to embrace, but which Gosnell (perhaps because she was a cosmopolitan New Yorker) had adopted.

Loved this book.

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