Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Read in 2016 - 6: The Life of Captain Reilly

"The Life of Captain Reilly" by J.T. O'Neil is something between a novel and a work of non-fiction. Actually, it is the real-life account of a day in the life of a pilot who works for a low-cost passenger airline, interspersed with chapters that explain various aspects of flying, less technical but more from an organisational point of view.



The overall tone of this book (of course it was a free ebook in Amazon's kindle shop) is rather cynical, and it makes me wonder why the author has not quit his job a long time ago, when almost everything about it is either hateful or ridiculous. It can't be the money that makes him stick to the job, as he complains about that as well.

Readers gain some insight into what it is like to be on a plane not as a passenger, but as the person responsible for the whole flight. It is interesting to learn about how many different areas and people work together to make it all happen, and what rules exist (and are sometimes bent) in the world of international air traffic.

So far, I've only been really close to an aircraft's pilot when a friend of mine took me on a trip by ultralight plane, as described here.
Of course, that is no comparison to what is involved in flying (and landing) an airbus. But the two types of flight still have some things in common: both need some planning for takeoff, travel and landing, communication with ground control, and some necessary steps after the trip is over.

Where I fully agree with the author is when he has a go at the behaviour of some passengers. There really are inconsiderate people around who think nothing of leaving their seats - and everything within a certain radius - a total mess, or treating cabin crew members as second class human beings.

Allover, this was an interesting (rather short) read, but left something of a sour taste (probably fully intended). What originally attracted me to the book was of course the captain's name being so similar to my own. J.T. O'Neil has written some more books, but I won't download them, not even if they are for free. They just weren't that good, or gripping.

10 comments:

  1. Well done for completing the book. I have a general rule that if a book hasn't grabbed me by page 100, then it probably won't, and I give up. Life is too short, and there are so many good books out there to read.

    https://www.outofyorkshireblog.wordpress.com

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    1. You are right, Maggie, and had the book not been so short, maybe I'd have put it aside. It has now been deleted from my kindle.

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  2. I probably would not have finished it, even if short!

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    1. And I wouldn't have blamed you, Kristi!

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  3. My ex-son inlay is a pilot, he too flies the Airbus (and many other planes). He used to write a blog which was rather cynical and he also wrote a book on flying people all around the world. But his name isn’t O’Neil, although it sounds very much like something he would write.

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    1. Maybe O'Neil is his pen name for the book, Friko? The author says he started out blogging and was persuaded by his many blog readers to turn his posts into a book.

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    2. I really will have to ask him now. The way you describe the book it sounds very much like him. Or perhaps all long-distance pilots are grumpy?

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    3. Here is his author's page at Amazon.co.uk:
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/J.T.-ONeil/e/B004XLGZQA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1457808782&sr=8-1
      No picture, but maybe the info about him there helps!

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  4. I know a few current and former pilots and many of their stories are laced with more humour than cynicism but I can see where the cynicism comes in these days for budget airline pilots in particular. Despite his lack of happiness with his remuneration it will still be reasonable by everyday standards (unless things have changed very radically recently). I would be tempted to read this is for no other reason than curiosity.

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    1. As it is really rather short, I think you could easily satisfy your curiosity there, Graham.

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