Wild Blue

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wild Blue: Stories of Survival from Air and Space
Edited by David Fisher and William Garvey

My mom left this book with me during her last visit, and I returned it to her during my visit this time (yup, I'm still here). It's a collection of short stories by a wide range of authors, and I enjoyed it. My honey had read it in something like three days when it first showed up at our house, but I forgot about it, and then discovered it again when I wasn't feeling well. It's another good morning sickness/super tired mom book. I could read it at the breakfast table while feeding my daughter, and curl up at night with it and read a few pages pages before enjoying precious, precious sleep.

The authors ranged from accomplished aviators/authors like Beryl Markham, Ernie Gann, and Antione de Saint Exupery, to unknowns who simply had amazing stories to tell. The story that I remember most was by William Rankin. He was a career Air Force pilot who had to eject from his FU8 at 47,000 feet above sea level. He survived the explosive ejection in near-space, only to fall into a thunderstorm and be caught in the violent updrafts for 40 minutes. Lightning, hail, waves of water: any of this would be enough to kill a man, but it's even more remarkable after his rapid decompression 10 miles above the earth. Another memorable story was by a British reporter in WWII, covering the RAF's burn unit and patients' rehabilitation. It was on the other end of the spectrum, but just as heroic. I skipped the few fiction pieces, because they sounded false in contrast to pilot's personal stories. In this case, reality was more powerful.

This book is a reminder of what humans can achieve and overcome, even in the face of overwhelming odds. It makes me think that maybe I should stop whining so much about my morning sickness.


Barbara said...

I skipped the fiction, too. It's taken me years to be able to actually NOT READ parts of a book without feeling as if I were unfaithful. But, as you said, the reality of the nonfiction accounts just makes the fiction seem so pale in comparison.