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Smart Flight: Learning to Fly in the UK
Learning to fly is never easy, but learning to fly in the UK presents its special challenges. Jason Smart takes us along on his journey from standing outside the airport fence in 2002 to his first journeys as a newly-minted private pilot in 2003.

Listed at e-Book-Zone

Jason Smart is a school teacher, of ten-year-olds, no less. This should have prepared him for all of the dips and turns on the emotional rollercoaster of earning a private pilot's license in during 2002/2003.

His training began at busy Leeds-Bradford International Airport and concluded in the pastoral setting of the grass strip at the proudly-named Full Sutton Airfield. The legendary British weather was a constant nemesis. The battery of examinations thrown at pilots by Britain's CAA, as well as the strict airport regulations, landing fees, and other obstacles thrown Jason's way make his achievement more worthy and his tale infinitely interesting.

A worthwhile read if you are not interested in the topic, a must read if you are in training or considering training for the private pilot's license in Britain.

SMART FLGHT: LEARNING TO FLY IN THE UK comes in an immediately downloadable pdf file of 3532K, containing a total of 275 pages of text punctuated by several photos and diagrams.
A Life's Journey
The autobiography of Lloyd Lauger follows his life as an Iowa farm boy, P.O.W. in Hitler's Germany, the loss of his first wife to cancer, raising a family as a struggling farmer, remarriage, a career change to teaching high school english, and his retirement years playing chess and bicycling. The most fascinating eighty-plus years you will ever read.

Our dear friend Lloyd has recently passed away, nearly 95 years of age. Obituary tribute.

Lloyd Lauger was raised on a farm very near Swedesburg, Iowa. His parents were of Swedish stock and were very aware of their old country heritage as well as the American Dream.

In this, the second edition of his autobiography, extensively expanded and reworked by the author for publication as an e-book, Lloyd considers what brought his parents' parents from Sweden to the new world and what they faced. He recounts growing up on a farm in the twenties and what it was like to become a teenager with the nation in the teeth of the great depression.

Like so many of his generation, Lloyd traded in his plow horse for an airplane, in his case a B-24 flying almost-daily missions over Gerrmany during 1944. During his fourteenth mission, his plane was shot down, and he was one of six (out of ten total) to survive the shootdown and sit out the rest of the war as a guest of The Third Reich,

At war's end, Lloyd returned to what he knew, farming. He met a young lady, and they married and began a family, contributing two children to the baby boom before cancer was found. Lloyd lost his first wife while he had two small children and a farm to look after.

He picked up the pieces, remarried, and he and his wife Martha had four more children. As the last arrived, Lloyd came to the realization that farming was making his family poorer and poorer, so he went to college for the first time at age 45 and became a high school English teacher.

He took "early retirement" at age 67 after 17 years in the classroom. His life then became even more interesting, as he pursued his lifetime hobby of chess, his new-found hobby of long-distance bicycling, and a desire to see the world.

A Life's Journey is not the autobiography of a famous person, but it is the autobiography of a man who went from horse power to jet power, from the one-room schoolhouse to the computer age, from the Nazi prison camp to the classroom to the author's chair. It is the story of a not-so-common man who is a member of that generation that lifted a nation out of a depression, fought a world war, then a cold war, and finally did achive a measure of that American Dream his immigrant forefathers so earnestly sought.

Lloyd Lauger's "A Life's Journey" is 146 pages of carefully and beautifully crafted prose, contemporaneous photos, and 83-plus years of American history, in a PDF file, 12176K in size.
Hole in the Sky
Dale Adams' true story of a pair of 22-year-old students from the University of Arizona and their 1949 adventure 1000 miles deep into old Mexico in a rented Luscombe (tiny airplane). Part II is "a true story that hasn't happened yet." An old man finds his old airplane, and brings it home against all odds.

We are saddened to report that Dale Adams recently passed away. Here is his obituary.

Way back in 1949, Dale Adams, a 22-year-old student at the University of Arizona, and his sidekick, Bob "Jug" Keating, decide to visit Dale's parents for spring break in a rented Luscombe (very small airplane). The complicating factor is that Dale's parents live 1000 miles deep into old Mexico, on a ranch up against the eastern slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, in the Mexican State of Durango. Having the sense of immunity that only youth can give, our heroes proceed to scare everybody who knows about the trip, including themselves, about half to death. At the end of the trip, when the Luscombe is returned to the local flying club in Tucson, it is in the repair shop for five months. And that's just part one.

Part two is a "true story that hasn't happened yet." An old man finds his old airplane in England, of all places, and brings it home to Arizona against all odds. The descriptions of the trip come from Dale's research and planning to actually make the trip himself. Imagine trying to cross an ocean in an airplane that, fully loaded with fuel for 45 hours, only weighs about a ton, and can only fly 80 miles per hour in the first few hours after takeoff. Take care of physiological needs before beginning chapter 13, because you'll read the last thirty pages without taking a break.

This book is a treasure, stuffed with maps and charts and pictures taken by our intrepid aviators. All of the graphics make the pdf file relatively large. You'll have a true gem, a document with historical as well as entertainment value-- an insight into youthful enthusiasm at the close of World War II, a window on a culture that is foreign to modern "American" understanding, and two gripping adventure tales that will keep you turning the pages at a frenzied pace. Part one benefits from Dale's perspective of 50 plus years since the events, as well as comments directly lifted from Dale's mother's diary, and the detailed log kept by "Jug" during the trip itself. Part two is quite literally fiction built on the foundation of fact-- as Dale calls it, "a true story that hasn't happened yet."

One reader commented:


Mr Adams, I really enjoyed your book. I was browsing the net and looking for something good to read. I certainly found it. It made my day, several in fact. I even printed it out so I could sit in my easy chair and read it in the cozy lamplight in late evening, or late at night when the world is dark and still.

Can I call you Dale? After all, I have just ridden with you in a tiny Luscombe across most of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. And ride I did. I think your rendering of this piece (both) was grand. Was it perfect? Maybe not, at least to a perfectionist--but it was spectacular, thrilling, and you made me feel like I was right there with you.


HOLE IN THE SKY, by Dale Adams, a 276-page book, comes in a PDF file of 24384K.

Author: Dale Adams

Length: 276 pages
To Fly
The challenge of learning to fly is not an easy one, but there are considerable rewards. Follow along as the author, Tom Kirkland, earns a private pilot certificate in the winter of 1995/96 at Cincinnati's Lunken Airport.

Listed at e-Book-Zone

I believe that God created aviators because they have a deep and abundant appreciation of the sky. They alone truly know the beauty of life in the air. They alone truly understand and appreciate the feeling of oneness with God when they fly. It is a feeling each of them knows unquestionably in their heart and soul.

Jennifer McDowell

The author recounts his attainment of a private pilot's license during the winter of 1995/96 in full detail, from the first lesson through the check ride. Almost all of the book was written within hours of the events described. Written in journal style. A complete record of every task that had to be mastered, every fear and misconception that had to be overcome. Filled with emotional highs and lows. Comes complete with a happy ending.

The emotional graph of learning to fly is like a checkmark. You start out excited, but quickly discover how much there is to learn. When it comes to mastering landings, most student pilots go through a period where they start to lose faith that they will ever learn. Then, some time after the first solo, confidence begins to build, and with it the upward swing that culminates in a feeling that comes from a precious few moments in a lifetime: the successful completion of the private pilot practical examination.

This book follows faithfully every step that was required to fulfill the FAA's requirements for the private pilot certificate, but does not attempt to be a textbook. The focus is on what it feels like to be a student pilot, not what each knob and switch does. It is a story told with humor, and with personal insights as to emotional state at every step along the way. A true story that reads like a novel. PDF file, 2240K.

Author: Tom Kirkland

Tom is now an instrument-rated commercial pilot rated in single-engine land and sea planes.

Length: 203 pages.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain's famous adventure story about young Tom Sawyer, who dreams of pirating and robbing, and who is smitten with Becky Thatcher the first time he lays eyes on her. This book introduces us to the character Huck Finn, among others.
Tom Sawyer is a young raspcallion, all right.

In Mark Twain's character, Tom Sawyer, we find all youthful vice and virtue coexistent at the same time. Pity Aunt Polly, who has to try to manage this youth, full of vigor and searching as a puppy does for any kind of new experience. Tom has only boyish visions of pirating and robbing, shedding blood and taking captives. He differs from many of us who were once pre-teen boys in that he does all of the things we wish we had.

He is wily, cunning, willful, yet we continue to like him for his heart of gold.

In this, the earlier of the two Mark Twain river adventures, we first meet Huck Finn. While we might understand The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on its own, there is much more to find in that book if The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is read first.

Like the younger book, we find slavery and other institutions of early nineteenth century Missouri explored. This book's treatment of slavery is nowhere as well developed as it is in its sequel, though we do see a tiny glimpse of contempt for it.

Twain treats young Sawyer's "romance" with Becky Thatcher with ease and grace, and in them we find the interests and fickle longings of all pre-teen hearts.

The treatment of the religious institution of that time and place is cause for a great deal of wry humor. Twain's insight into the ways in which Christianity can become a religion bring a smile to the lips of anyone who ever attended a Sunday School. By and large, he is right on the mark in seeing into the minds of his characters, and we see in their actions a mirror held to our own experiences.

And that is the magic of Mark Twain. He doesn't tell outright jokes in his prose, but he weaves his characters into situations in which humor will be found in the way they act. In this way, his humor is sophisticated and sneaky. He seems to have been a powerful influence on the modern day Garrison Keillor, for the same folksy style of story telling employed by Mr. Twain has been well imitated and extended from St. Petersburg, Missouri to Lake Wobegone, Minnesota.

In our rush to declare this book fine literature, let us not forget that it is first and foremost an engaging adventure tale, though much more innocent in its own way than the ones found today on airport news stands. Take a trip back in time to America's expanding West in the early 1800's, and let the rhythm of Twain's prose slow you down to the pace of that day.

So here is Mark Twain's original river adventure, in downloadable a downloadable PDF file of 1176K, 191 pages in all.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain's classic Mississippi River adventure puts 14-year-old Huck Finn on a raft with runaway slave Jim. Includes other memorable characters such as the king and the duke, the Grangerfords, Mary Jane, and Tom Sawyer. Sequel to "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."
The classic adventure story of 14-year-old Huckleberry Finn and the runaway slave Jim on a raft riding down the Mississippi River in the mid-nineteenth century. The characters are memorable, the plot twists and turns, there is humor, tragedy, danger.

Quoting the publisher's foreword:

If quality and decency are the marks of all works published by, then what is Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn doing in the collection? All throughout, the main characters are nothing if not liars and thieves, and it is full of the dreaded N-word, not to mention violence and swindles and other various and sundry improprieties.

Well, that is the point. This book is not a politically correct, cleaned-up and santizied rendering of mid-nineteenth-century life along the Mississippi River, nor is it intended for the sensibilities of self-proclaimed "enlightened" readers at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Rather, it is probably a reasonably accurate, though perhaps exaggerated, rendering of the culture of that time and place. The place continues to exist, but is now transformed by modern transportation and cable television. It can truly be said that there are few real "hicks" left in modern America, because everyone today has sixty channels and an internet connection. Such was not the case when it took many days or weeks, a considerable slice of income, and considerable assumption of risk to travel a few hundred miles.

The question of this book's depiction of slavery has hung over it for a hundred years, and has been hotly debated for decades whenever a school has decided to use it in its curriculum. Some have said that the race question should have been dealt with more directly, meaning that the book fails to show slavery for the true evil that it was, wheras others feel that Twain must have been a racist or he wouldn?t have depicted slaves as he did, and put such speech in their mouths. To both criticisms, I would turn to Solzhenitsyn's argument, that it is more clearly damning to an institution to present it at its very best and have it found wanting, than to present it at its very worst; we visit the gulag of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch on a good day, when the rations are hotter and more plentiful than usual, the guards are in good moods, and not too many of the prisoners are sick. We find Twain's depiction of slavery to be insufficiently cruel, and the social degradation of slaves to be onerous, perhaps because he projects things more like they really were than as we imagine them. Today we may wish to view slaves as highly eloquent and educated people who were beaten senseless all the time. In actuality, it is perhaps more accurate to see them as people who were raised without regard to their human potential to be ignorant and superstitious and ineloquent, and who were not especially poorly treated unless they got out of line. Their bondage could not have been more complete or more immoral either way.

If there are doubts about Twain's view of the morality of slavery or the degree to which the descendents of Africans may have deserved to remain in bondage, then I would suggest that the reader give careful thought to the moral dilemma Huck faces as he weighs Jim's human rights against the property rights of his owner. The internal debate is illuminating on the dilemma the nation faced at the time. There were certainly hard liners on both sides of the debate, but many average people found themselves caught between the notion that a slave had the right to run away from an immoral institution and have an opportunity at life as a free person and the idea that a slave bought and paid for was the property of its owner and that an injury is done to the owner if a slave is freed. The mere fact that people of a given race could be in the same town square and some be slave and some free was the paradox Lincoln pondered when he stated that the nation would not be able to last half-and-half-- that it must one day be either all slave or all free. In the end, Jim is set free, both physically and morally, by a combination of circumstances. And he becomes a free black in the Deep South amongst people who hours before were ready to lynch him for running away. What strange irony is it that such a man would find himself physically and legally free but only in the smallest of ways more socially free than he had been while fleeing down the river on the raft. And interestingly enough, the question of the true freedom of the descendents of those slaves is still with us today.

Huck's moral journey is also an interesting study. We find him now and again doing the right thing, but continuing to be a liar and a cheat to the very end. From time to time he has his moral moments, and despite all that he gets himself into and out of, we find that he is a good deal more appreciative of the high stakes of the dangeours game they played at the Phelps farm than was his compadre, Tom Sawyer. Ultimately, we are left wondering if Huck ever became an upstanding citizen, or if a life of crime awaited him.

Perhaps Huck fulfills the dream of every fourteen-year-old boy. He lives just a little outside the law, lies as easily as he breathes, outsmarts nearly everyone, and falls back on his social status as a boy to dig himself out of scrapes. He is tested by his unsettled upbringing, and he develops a cool sense of calculus about the world: That his immoral steps are necessary, and therefore somehow forgivable. He is different in his own way than more modern morally ambiguous characters in that Huck really does know right from wrong, and he chooses to rationalize every act. The picture of Huck abused by his drunken father is truly bleak, but Huck also gives us insight into the resilience and adaptablility of youth. In that way he symbolizes the grit and pluck of a young United States as it, for better or worse, morally or immorally, subdued a wild continent.

Above all, this is a pure adventure story. Twain clearly meant it so, for in the "NOTICE" he posts at the beginning of the book, he warns us that his intent is not to be morally instructive, or historically accurate, or to create a great work of literature, but to be merely entertaining. To his credit, Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens seems to have well covered all four bases.

Mark Twain's famous Huckleberry Finn in one PDF file, 1792K, 143 pages in all.
Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe's engaging adventure tale of a man marooned on a desert island. If you have never read this, now is the time.
If you have never read Robinson Crusoe before, it is not quite what you think. Read from the Publisher's Foreword:

What does a man need?

While there have perhaps been as many answers to this question as there have been men, and perhaps all of them wrong, Daniel Defoe, in his fictional work Robinson Crusoe, explores this question in the context of a solitary marooned traveler.

First published in 1719 in the England of powdered wigs, a strong monarchy, and George Frederick Handel, this book is utterly a product of its culture. The ideas of "the white man’s burden" and pre-Victorian values are quite evident in the protagonist's thoughts and actions, as well as the work’s depiction of non-Europeans. Its contempt for Spanish behavior in the Americas further belies English attitudes of the time.

While some of this book draws on Defoe's own experience in Moorish captivity, much of the general idea is based on a contemporaneous account of a marooning that actually occurred much as described in Defoe's book.

This book is historically significant in its use of near-modern English, its realistic flavor (it can almost convince one that the events described actually occurred) and its place as a bridge between earlier forms of fiction and the eighteenth century English novel form.

Among surprises awaiting the reader are the scope of the work, it describing many years of solitary confinement to the island-- the better part of a man's life. That the scope is so grand allows us to follow Crusoe through many changes of attitude and belief. At last, Crusoe arrives at a spiritual place quite like Defoe's Methodist beliefs, and a social place in polite English society.

Another interesting aspect of the work is that the world it depicts is an amazing place for travel and enterprise, with grand adventure in the form of either terrible danger or grand fortune awaiting any man bold enough to venture out beyond the confines of his own city. This book may have been significant as a motivator for the eighteenth century English penchant for going forth around the globe and conquering both militarily and commercially, The Spanish, Portuguese, and Italians may have made the rest of the world known to Europe, but it was the English who went out and created a true international commercial and military network.

Returning for a moment to a discussion of the story told by the book, it is not at all difficult to find people who could give a fifty-word description of the book. The synopsis given by the average English-speaker might be, "A man on a sailing ship is marooned on a tropical island during a storm and has to live alone for quite some time until he discovers another man who becomes his servant; he names this other man Friday, after the day of the week he discovers him." Such would have been my synopsis, prior to reading the book. That this much is known to most reasonably well educated people is testimony to the power of the notion of a solitary man living in an exotic place, without contact from other people. The fact is that the book is so much more than that short synopsis, that to believe one knows about the book without reading it is really a quite amusing thought.

If there were no more to Crusoe's story than the fleshing out of the TV-listing blurb above, then the book would be perhaps 80 pages of descriptions of the circumstances of arrival, plants, animals, and weather, a discussion of how Crusoe found food, water, and shelter until he leaves the island, and a climax including a dramatic departure from the island. It would, in short, be the basis for a made-for-TV movie with an aging leading man and would be essentially forgettable. The fact is, that the book is not a "beach read."

Defoe created a work of lasting value because he created a story with layers of action on the physical, emotional/intellectual, and spiritual fronts that moves along through the various stages of a man's life, albeit a man in quite unusual circumstances, with an honesty that makes Crusoe the character come to life for us in a way that allows us to know him more completely than we might know no real human other than perhaps a spouse.

So the real value of this work is that it is a tale of the journey of a man from youth to age, a tale that might be about you or I should we have found ourselves in the place and time of Crusoe. Creating a realistic protagonist who engages us as a solitary figure for over 200 pages is quite a feat for an author. Defoe could very well own his place in literary history for this feat alone. But the story of Robinson Crusoe is so engaging at so many levels that, having read it, it is easy to understand how it has held a place in the western mind for the better part of three centuries.

So then, what is the answer to the question? What does a man need?

Daniel Defoe's legendary book, The Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, is presented here as a downloadable PDF file of 1568K, 239 pages in all. Complete and faithful to Defoe's original text so far as we are able to determine.