Turbulence, Capt. John W. van Kleeff, 2014, ISBN 978-1-49903-508-7, 190 pp.
Beginning with fire trucks on the runway, and ending with, “…that was to fly” van Kleeff describes his life and career as a commercial pilot. Amazingly, Captain van Kleeff speaks several languages, has had a handful of marriages, flown to more countries than most can name and is capable with his hands to an enviable degree. He has also flown, managed and experienced commercial aviation to an extent that most in the field have not.
This is not the book to learn details about specific aircraft although the author flew BAC 111, Boeing 727, Boeing 737 as well as Airbus A300 airliners in a career which culminated as pilot-in-command (PIC) with American Airlines. The most tantalizing detail in this regard is his descriptive recollection of a childhood cockpit visit during a flight in a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.
This is a book to learn about achieving PIC status though without military flight training flying. This is a book to learn of many of the facets of the flying industry — including why some pilots are so much better than others. This is the book to learn of the life style of a corporate as well as commercial pilot.
This is also a sometimes intimate book about a full life rich in experience as much as difficulties. The handful of marriages have been mentioned but the author’s life is marked by a father sending him away, at the age of 6, for unknown reason. Van Kleeff has many salient observations regarding his life in Europe as a result, as well as a continuing account of many cities and countries. Of special interest are his vivid recollections of the Middle East where he did much of his corporate piloting, especially in the BAC 111. The bin Laden family is mentioned as is younger years Osama as are many sheiks, princes and princesses. How the aircraft was used and loaned out to many prominent and powerful (very prominent, very powerful) Americans is eyebrow raising, not to mention a bit concerning. The BAC 111 modifications are mentioned, though not in detail, which converted these short range aircraft into long range aircraft.
Van Kleeff’s writing style will have the reader soon listening to a grandfather or uncle figure as the tale is told simply and directly with tantalizing details or observations mixed in like exotic spices in an expansive cuisine. This book is a pleasant read about a man who could have lived a disastrous existence but, instead, has an accomplished life and interesting life — a life marked by turbulence.
As is the publishing business custom, Xlibris provided a copy of this book for an objective review.