A poetic and nuanced exploration of the human experience of flight that reminds us of the full imaginative weight of our most ordinary journeys—and reawakens our capacity to be amazed.
The twenty-first century has relegated airplane flight—a once remarkable feat of human ingenuity—to the realm of the mundane. Mark Vanhoenacker, a 747 pilot who left academia and a career in the business world to pursue his childhood dream of flight, asks us to reimagine what we—both as pilots and as passengers—are actually doing when we enter the world between departure and discovery. In a seamless fusion of history, politics, geography, meteorology, ecology, family, and physics, Vanhoenacker vaults across geographical and cultural boundaries; above mountains, oceans, and deserts; through snow, wind, and rain, renewing a simultaneously humbling and almost superhuman activity that affords us unparalleled perspectives on the planet we inhabit and the communities we form.
“Mr Vanhoenacker, fortunately for his readers, has lost none of his sense of wonder at the miracle of flight itself…a beautifully observed collection of details, scenes, emotions and facts from the world above the world.”
‘Wonderfully evocative and clear-eyed…fascinating.’
Bill Prince, GQ
“Both a manual for infrequent flyers (wherein the physics and metaphysics of time and space are for once essayed in a perfectly straightforward manner) and a skilful meditation on the glories of traversing the earth at the helm of mankind’s greatest technological achievement that – yes – flies from the page.”
Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller (UK)
“Not since Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic Vol de Nuit…has there been such a fantastic book about flying as Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot….What marks this book out is its author’s ability to bring a genuine poetic sensibility to the experience of flying and the feelings of strangeness and beauty that it engenders….Skyfaring takes the genre to a whole new level. I found myself turning over the corners of almost every page with excitement and admiration.”