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Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  169 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
When professional rock climber Steph Davis started skydiving, she discovered new love, hope, and joy in letting go.

“It’s not so surprising that on the day of my fifth wedding anniversary I would be crouched in the open door of an airplane, thirteen thousand feet above the Colorado plains, about to jump out. That coincidence of timing really wasn’t.”

Steph Davis is a superst
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Touchstone (first published February 1st 2013)
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Mar 27, 2013 sendann rated it liked it
A huge leap from her last athletic memoir, I found this book engaging and inspiring beginning to end. For climbers familiar with the author and her career arc, this fills out the picture of a very weird public story from a few years ago. As much as I relate to and feel thankful for getting to hear such an intense and personal story, there were a few too many distracting elements going on in the text. The extrapolation to narration ratio was too high for me, and although I loved the messages abou ...more
William Graney
Dec 17, 2015 William Graney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very impressed with the author's humility and her willingness to credit those who helped and mentored her during her very impressive accomplishments. I've found that to be a somewhat rare trait in the Adventure genre as there is often a "Wow-look at me-I'm so amazing" component to the writing. It's so refreshing to read incredible life tales by the likes of Steph David or Bernard Moitessier, who share their lives with the reader in a way that inspires admiration and respect, not just for t ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Gregory rated it it was amazing
Americans love to rave about their individual freedoms. Ironically, most shackle their lives to desires and expectations other than their own and grind out their days without ever bothering to discover their genuine loves and passions. Even more tragic, many of those who do know their hearts can’t summon the courage to take the action true love requires.

Steph Davis is not one of those people. She has no place among Teddy Roosevelt’s “cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Ste
Mar 24, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
I have not heard of Steph Davis nor am I familiar with the controversy that her then husband made in the media. Steph’s husband climbed the “Arches” in the Utah National Park. Although, climbing is allowed in the park it is frowned upon to climb such a famous landmark. It got so bad that it was almost like Steph’s husband was on trial in a Salem witch hunt. Of course coupled with the media and the loss of some big sponsors, the marriage crumbled. However if it was not for this, Steph may not hav ...more
Drew Holmes
Apr 10, 2013 Drew Holmes rated it it was amazing
brought back so many memories of my life on a drop zone....My brother taught claimbing with her so many years ago in Colorado.

quick fun read
Katherine Jones
Apr 24, 2013 Katherine Jones rated it liked it
After being hit by a series of crises, Steph Davis knew she had to take a giant step back and retool. And though her particular situation might not be one everyone can identify with, her general quandary is: “Whatever might happen in life,” Steph Davis writes, “whether I liked it or didn’t like it, I could know one thing for sure: it would change. There was absolute certainty in uncertainty.”

Davis writes in a spare style, which you might expect from a woman who quit law school to pursue the asce
Jun 14, 2013 Betty rated it liked it
Reflections: me climb mountains? Hah! The closest I ever did that was Stone Mountain near Atlanta. We rode the cable car up the steep part and walked down the sloping side. I tripped, slid on my stomach several feet, and ruined my favorite pair of slacks. Didn't even skin my knees, but it was enough to turn me off climbing.

Steph Davis is completely opposite of me. That is what makes reading books so much fun --- we live adventurously through them. Davis dropped out of law school and climbed whe
Jessica Kelley
Apr 22, 2015 Jessica Kelley rated it really liked it
Great book - much better than High Infatuation. I confess I stayed up way too late to finish this and **SPOILER ALERT** cried when Fletch died. So heartbreaking. The book is even more gut-wrenching because as a reader, I know what ultimately happens to her husband, Mario Richard (not in the book, but several months after the book was published).
Highly recommend. Waffled between 4 and 5 stars.
Mar 04, 2014 Shelley rated it liked it
Great memoir about Steph Davis, professional rock climber, who lost it all -- career, marriage -- in one fell swoop, and then shifted gears and learned to sky dive and base jump. While doing this, she learns more about herself, her life, her goals, and her loves. Reading about her personal transformation, for me, was more interesting than how she learned to jump.
Fiona Mcfarlane
Jul 06, 2014 Fiona Mcfarlane rated it really liked it
Dangerous book to read - makes you want to go jump off a cliff - but in a fun way! Loved this - both the stories of climbing and base jumping, but also the thoughts on philosophy and life.
Aug 16, 2014 Lanell rated it really liked it
This book was really interesting. Sometimes I dream of living this way. Just following your passions. Does not seem realistic but she pulls it off. I thought it was a good read.
Matt Pierce
Apr 30, 2013 Matt Pierce rated it it was amazing
An amazing adventurous read. Steph writes an honest biographical account of how climbing, skydiving, base jumping and wingsuit flying changed her life, during a time in her life when she needed it. Along with her love of the desert, Mario and her dog Fletch she brings the reader along on an amazing emotional journey that involves climbing (often free-solo with no rope), skydiving, base jumping, wing suit flying, personal challenges with life and personal empowerment. If you want to read what it' ...more
Really a 3.5 star bk. Enjoyable, fun, sad at times. When Steph's husband makes a controversial climb- the fallout leaves her marriage and life broken into a million pieces.

Steph's story is about finding herself, learning a new sport, and finding the love in climbing again.

Through friends and Fletcher, the dog, she finds that life can be good again. And love can be found.

My review:
Traveling With T
Sharry Miller
Jun 05, 2013 Sharry Miller rated it really liked it
Yep, I'm ready to go skydiving tomorrow, and to buy a wingsuit the day after so I can try flying off of tall cliffs. Steph Davis has a way of inducing that sort of excitement in Learning to Fly. She describes her transition from being a professional rock climber whose greatest fear is falling to a skydiving addict who can't wait to find the next cliff she can jump off. Even better is climbing up the cliff first. Learning to fly is a wonderful way for an armchair athlete or skydiver wannabe to vi ...more
Jan 15, 2014 Heather rated it liked it
LOVE her. She's one of my pedestal people. I didn't find the insights I was hoping for in 'Learning to Fly.' 'High Infatuation,' her first book, is one of my favorite title of all time, and I hoped that her most recent piece of writings would be more like that.

That's okay, own expectations don't get to dictate what a book provides for others, and I hope that 'Learning to Fly' is read and loved and savored and cherished by others. There's a lot of good stuff between the covers!
May 01, 2013 Cameron rated it it was amazing
I've thought about learning to BASE jump and skydive but after I read this book I decided to make it a goal. This was an entertaining book about the changes in life. Steph writes about fear and determination as she explores a sport that allows her to explore a part of her she never knew existed.

This is one of the best reads if had in a while.
Prana Living
Feb 18, 2013 Prana Living rated it it was amazing
Loved the very personal insight into Steph's life. She is an amazing extreme athlete and an equally amazing person. Learn more about her at and check out her video series at
Amar Pai
Apr 28, 2015 Amar Pai rated it liked it
I don't condone BASE jumping, but this book spoke to me. I guess cos of where I'm at. Gives one hope. Post-script 4/28/15: R.I.P. Mario Richard
Sep 08, 2013 Bernadette rated it really liked it
Connected to the climbing world via marriage, I was able to understand the need to connect to the world through climbing (free-solo) and BASE jumping, unfortunately most of the world just does not get this,
Alison Naney
Apr 30, 2013 Alison Naney rated it really liked it
It's always nice to read memoirs about climbing, especially by a woman and one who can actually write well. As a dog lover, I loved reading about her relationship with her lovely dog.
Aug 16, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
Steph Davis is a truly admirable woman.
Apr 07, 2013 Nancy marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoir
newspaper recommendation
Adwoa Frimpong
Adwoa Frimpong marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2016
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Jul 20, 2016
Cathie rated it it was amazing
Jul 18, 2016
Dan The Man! =^)
Dan The Man! =^) rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2016
Taylor Lynch
Taylor Lynch marked it as to-read
Jul 12, 2016
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Andrea Suarez marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2016
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Jul 11, 2016
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“Whatever might happen in life, whether I liked it or didn’t like it, I could know one thing for sure: it would change. There was absolute certainty in uncertainty, in some ways an enormous comfort.” 0 likes
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