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Fate is the Hunter

Old 16th Oct 2021, 18:15
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Two more inspirational books: 'Spirit of St Louis' by Charles Lindbergh (won the Pulitzer Prize, set me off on a career in aviation) and 'The Sky Beyond' by Gordon Taylor (pioneering trans-ocean flights).
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Old 16th Oct 2021, 19:32
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In the late 60s at the start of my multi-engine flying training in the RAF my instructor lent me a copy, and said "Read that before the end of the course!". I did and have had a copy ever since and read it every few years. I still find the description about the encounter with heavy icing totally gripping.
FITH was re-issued in paperback a few years ago, so there is no need to pay a fortune - although I would love an original hardback.
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Old 16th Oct 2021, 19:58
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As I posted previously - the movie Fate is the Hunter is more akin to the EKG book Band of Brothers in that it is based around an accident investigation,the major difference in the book of Band of Brothers was that the investigator was flying an old decrepit Ju52 to investigate his friends crash.
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Old 16th Oct 2021, 20:27
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I inherited a copy of the ninth printing, November 1953, of “The High and the Mighty.”

I’m pretty sure that its my first glimpse at a 747 engine that made me go gaga over airplanes, but adventure stories caught my eye at an early age.

Adventure coupled with extreme caution mind you, to ensure that you can return.
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Old 16th Oct 2021, 20:35
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“The fear of death is indeed the pretense
of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a
pretense of knowing the unknown . . . And no
one knows whether death which men in their
fear apprehend to be the greatest evil,
may not be the greatest good . . .”

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Old 17th Oct 2021, 20:37
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First read in high school and have been captivated ever since.. as previously mentioned the icing story is totally captivating... And I've used the "lighting a match in front of a pilot on final" trick when training opportunities of aviation.
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Old 17th Oct 2021, 22:52
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EKG's prose is a masterclass in word economy. Every syllable counts. A lesson for our verbose times.
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 02:19
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Sure looks like a DC-2. The top front of the engine cowl is the tell.
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 03:29
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FITH is remarkable in its capacity to evoke memory. As someone who has had the privilege of sitting between 1830s and 2000s for some thousands of hours, I maintain that Gann is the only author who has been able to evoke in literature the sounds, the feelings, the fears and indeed the smells of that experience. For example, although I never operated in the North American icing conditions he described, I have heard with some apprehension the sound of lumps of ice putting dents in the fuselage in line with the props, and watched the wing boots pumping away under a rime ice coating. Nobody has put it better than EKG.
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 16:21
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I was most intrigued to see your post regarding Fate is the Hunter and EK Gann. I first read the book when I was a grade seven student in northern Alberta. Exuberantly, I rode along, enwebbed in the bewitching thrall of airplanes, the world of men, and the wide world of places.

Some years later when I was pushing a twin Cessna 402 through the oilpatchareas of northwestern Canada, I thought "Ernie would love this!" Piston powered unpressurized machines, with close attention being paid to obtain altitude level clearances that would tend to keep one between the layers of the latent ice forming stratus. And when that didn't quite happen, the same fuselage hammering of the ice being shed from the props. The de-icer boots - that one waxed down with Lemon Pledge while down and refueling.

Years later, but now as an airline pilot, various airline mergers nullified nearly a decade of my seniority. Ernie knew this too. And in spite of the ego crippling seniority loss, he hung on. Prostrate though we both were. His pages, like the leaves of a tree turned from vibrant expectancy, to now the autumnal colors of solace. Next, when airline bankruptcies humbled me further, I left my fold for an international airline flying out of the Middle East. Flew to the same far-off airfields that are scenes in the book. Accra, Dakar, Casablanca, Khartoum, Karachi, et al.

And lastly, when my cup was quite full, flying as a super jumbo Captain, I too elected to quit. While still running ahead of the: medical corps; the increasing and conflicting regulatory requirements; the mortal combat of airline economics; and the unrelenting study and testing required to fly a developing electronic FBW airplane and all the country variegated ATC systems and rules.

Ernie and Fate is the Hunter spanned and comforted my entire adult professional life. A seminal work. These days, as I struggle to piece together some recollections; photo mapping equitorial Africa with a Learjet, Medivac flights in and out of the Canadian high arctic, widebody jets through the third world, his pages have again been inspiring and taunting. This time with respect to structure and language. Thank you again Ernie.

I have a substantial collection of his many books, and many of his magazine articles. Plus, others that deal with him. Beyond aviation, a particularly good novel is "The Antagonists", which was re-released as "Masada" after the television mini-series starring Peter O'Toole.

I am living in YVR, and as a lifelong follower of EKG, would be very pleased to speak with you about your project.

All the best,
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 17:40
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Originally Posted by India Four Two View Post
Two other excellent books in the same genre are:

"Flying Through Midnight: A Pilot's Dramatic Story of His Secret Missions Over Laos During the Vietnam War" - flying C-123s at night, including an absolutely hair-raising description of a night emergency landing at the "nonexistent" CIA base at Long Tieng.

"Low Level Hell"- an account of Loach operations in Vietnam.
I read Low Level Hell recently.

I was left with a question.

How on earth did they survive?
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Old 18th Oct 2021, 17:48
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I would also recommend reading "Hostage to Fortune" from which you will learn so much more about the man.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 01:59
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I have just ordered Fate is the Hunter from a well know second hand book retailer, there were a few copies available around the place. The one I ordered is coming from the US.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 12:20
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walschaert valve

FITH is also available as a Kindle book.
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 15:04
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Lindbergh's autobiographical WE, initially published several weeks after his trans-Atlantic solo flight in 1927, is worth a read. Like the inspiration Discorde took from Spirit of St. Louis, WE steered me toward aviation as my major avocation.

- Ed
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 18:30
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I bought a copy of FITH in Detroit in 1990 or 91.
Suprised to find the bookshop had it listed under "Popular Fiction"!
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Old 19th Oct 2021, 19:32
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Originally Posted by Thomas Charlton View Post
Sure looks like a DC-2. The top front of the engine cowl is the tell.
If you're referring my photo in post #2... it is definitively a DC-3. See here: https://www.crsmithmuseum.org/exhibi...knoxville-dc3/ The photo on that page clearly shows the wider DC-3 fuselage. The DC-2 fuselage had almost flat sides. This particular DC-3 is an early model with the door on the RH side.
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Old 21st Oct 2021, 13:34
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@NSandell FITH is one of my all times favorite aviation book . Discovered it in the 70s when I was starting to fly , read it again a few decades back after a few of my own flying experiences to appreciate it even more..

One such experience was after having badly miscalculated a load, disregarded the outside temperature and the wind I found myself staring in disbelief at the VSI needle barely a millimeter above zero and an IAS needle floating barely above Vs with trees approaching .. Like with him it was close but ended well. Lesson learned ( until now that is )

The other was during a flight to Narssassuaq in the late 80s ( Bluie West one in the book) having had to take the Fjord entry/ arrival due low cloud base and looking for the ship wreck to indicate the right fjord to follow...Pre GPS times. The ship wreck was still there are described in the book, and as the ceiling lowered as we flew further inland, I can recall and confirm that, as Ernst wrote, there is not such joy in flying as finally spotting the runway in Narssassuaq...
I also read a few of his other aviation books, very nice but not as good as FITH for me.
His writing desk /office where he used to write his books is on display in Oshkosh in the EAA museum . Pity it is all behind a fence, you can't read the photos and frames on the walls and can't sit behind his desk . That would be something!
Would love to read your piece ..
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Old 21st Oct 2021, 14:30
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I opened my copy a few days ago, and was surprised to find it in mint, unread, condition. Obviously one I had bought to replace a "borrowed" copy that was never returned. I last read it many years ago, as a young airline pilot. Now, as a long-retired airrline pilot, I can relate much better. Among other things, never mistrust the sixth sense. Even if everything is going fine, instruments etc reading normally, if you have that "feeling something is wrong" you can bet something is.
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Old 21st Oct 2021, 22:08
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For me, the title is the theme that runs though the book. No matter how much experience, how good the planning and preflight, no matter how careful, it's sometimes just plain luck that's the difference between living and dying.

The unexpected break in the weather, the sudden gap in the clouds, the few minutes early or late, the engine that just ran long enough, the extra few feet of altitude. It's these moments where he recognises the hand of fate, and is humble enough to admit that it was luck and only luck that kept him from joining so many of his colleagues in disaster.

The fact that he recognised this and accepted it and continued flying shows not just a passion for flying but also a quiet courage that is inspiring.

And that is why I re-read FITH.
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