Patrick Smith’s book, Cockpit Confidential (Everything you need to know about air travel) is an amazing collection of airline information that cannot be found anywhere else. This book is packed with information about flight mechanics, types of airplanes, air traffic, airline companies, statistics and incidents. The book is written in an easy style that teaches the reader about air travel in a down-to-earth manner that informs and entertains. The author is knowledgeable about the airline industry and presents details that will help travelers.
The chapters separate the book into sections; on how a plane works, weather, details on flights, in-flight procedures, airline employment, accidents, etc. On your first pass through, it is merely an entertaining look at airplane and airline facts. Later, though, you’ll want to use the book as a reference. The index could have been a bit more detailed for this purpose but it’s easy enough to find your way around.
One of my favorite parts is the glossary at the end of the book, which teaches you how to speak “airline”. For instance, who knew that “Doors to Arrival and Crosscheck” means that the crew needs to disarm the automatic operation of the doors (used in emergencies) and then go to another crew’s station to verify, or “crosscheck” that the door has been set correctly. Smith, in his humorous style, also translates the complicated airline lingo to common English. For instance, who knew that “Full and upright position” actually just means “upright”.
Another section I enjoyed was reading of the incident where TSA removed a butter knife from his carry-on luggage. He explained that it was the same butter knife that he would receive with his meal on the plane. They, of course, removed it from him anyway. This and further stories of TSA and airport security make for an interesting and amusing, but very informative book.
There is a detailed chapter on best, biggest, and worst in the airline industry. Who knew that the longest flight in the world was Dallas-Sydney? Smith reveals the Quantas safety record and cites about ten other airlines with near perfect safety records, including my favorite Cayman Airways. Smith also tells the horrific story of the crash at Teneriffe, which claimed over 500 lives in two airplanes. It is a story of a series of communication errors that ended in a terrible tragedy. The most amazing aspect is that both planes were on or near the ground when they crashed, not in mid flight.
This is an extremely interesting and educational work, delivered by Smith in his humorous and informative style.
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was given to the volunteer with the expectation that a fair and honest review would be written.