Not Flying Alone
Not Flying Alone: an autobiography, Capt. R.A. Lemmon, 2015, 978-1-49697-419-8, 508 pp.
Amazingly, Lemmon has encapsulated both a full career as an airline pilot and a full life as a regular person in a succinct yet easy 497 pages. These pages are easily and comfortably read with Lemmon’s almost log book entry writing style. His prose allows readers to follow smoothly and quickly his life’s arc spanning decades of airline service as well as several decades of life’s decisions we must all face.
Not Flying Alone has two intertwining, occasionally intersecting story lines – a flying career, beginning with DC-3 airliners and ending with the Douglas DC-10, and a life lived well with defeats as well as victories. Not Flying Alone is well worth reading regarding the latter for those who have lived through life’s events (both happy and sad) as well as for those who have not (Lemmon’s experiences are those experienced by most so it is better to know what may be expected).
Along the way of his flying career, Lemmon developed mechanical skills rebuilding private aircraft as well as vintage autos. He was also half of a mutually devoted pair with his wife. Moving, business, family lucky choices and bad ones – all are laid bare and unadorned in smiles and tears.
The telling of his flying career is enlightening since he writes what few, if any, others do not – the remarkable as well as the nitty-gritty (after all few things are perfect). We learn that pilots in the DC-3 often used the side windows to access the windshield for cleaning while in-flight – and the cockpit reflected the outside environment (e.g., if it was wet they were wet). There are also his experiences with the DC-6, B720, B727, B737 and DC-10. His writing of the 727 is especially delightful as he describes the marvel of its wing and how the rear mounted engines necessitated non intuitive landing procedures.
His description of living within the airline world is insightful as we learn of training variances, openings, moves and more. Lemmon tells of the advancement in flight simulation, as well, culminating in a confidence exercise which could only be done in a flight simulation (or wartime) – taking off, flying a circuit and landing done all with no instruments. That is experience and knowing the physics of the machine!
Lemmon, given his several decades walking this planet, also explains his hard won philosophy and why it crystallized for him late in his life. All in all, this book is rewarding to the aviation enthusiast as well as those who know history occurs within the context of lives which are lived well. Not Flying Alone is a rewarding and comfortable weekend read – one which leaves readers informed as well as richer having read this true story so well told.
As is the publishing custom authorHOUSE Selfpublishing provided a courtesy copy for an objective review.