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Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience

Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience by Daniel L. Rust. University of Oklahoma Press, 2009.

Not many aviation books provide the reader with genuine experiences of airline passengers. Daniel Rust’s Flying Across America, however, manages to do so by relating the journeys of passengers throughout almost a century of commercial aviation in the United States. The author surveys this mode of transportation from the early days when the Wright brothers demonstrated the possibility of powered heavier-than-air flight, through important, historical milestones in commercial aviation, to the modern era when the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 prompted significant changes to airline security.

Rust does not confine his coverage to the impressions of people who fly from coast to coast, from Los Angeles to New York; rather, he includes not only the contributions of individuals who have shaped the course of aviation but also the role of aircraft manufacturing companies such as Boeing and Airbus. Furthermore, the author touches on the importance of airmail, improvements in propulsion, modern airliners, wartime flight, jet airlines, flight economy, the evolution of in-flight amenities, and the age of deregulation. Beginning in 1978, deregulation brought about a number of changes, thought by some people to have produced a closely controlled and wearisome flying experience. Certainly, though, such restrictions do not compare to the ordeal of flying on a TWA transcontinental flight in 1930, which took 36 hours and stopped 11 times en route. (The same flight across the continent took less than six hours nonstop in 1975.)

Prominent among the book’s attributes is the collection of images and photographs that support the narrative. A number of photos capture both the epic moments in aviation history and the airline experiences of ordinary Americans. Daniel Rust has indeed produced a noteworthy book that will appeal to former, current, and future airline passengers. I highly recommend Flying Across America to anyone interested in commercial aviation.

Dr. Amir S. Gohardani

London, United Kingdom

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."

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