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The Aviator

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  133 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
The Rocky Mountains, 1928: He is a lonely US Mail pilot, bearing the scars, inside and out, of his worst flying experience. She is his passenger, an eleven-year-old girl, bright and perceptive beyond her years. Together they survive a devastating crash to begin the journey, and the revelation, of their lives (back cover blurb).
Hardcover, 189 pages
Published January 28th 1981 by Arbor House Publishing Company (first published January 1981)
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Wheels Up by Steve  TaylorWind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeFate Is the Hunter by Ernest K. GannWest with the Night by Beryl Markham
Aviation Books
33rd out of 211 books — 124 voters
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29th out of 35 books — 2 voters

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Jan 27, 2016 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The sole reason I knocked off a half-star was for the scattered profanity; otherwise it'd be a solid four-star read—a well-crafted, engaging story of survival with some thoughtful character development. Set in the 1920s, still the early days of aviation, the novel follows an air-mail pilot flying a fairly risky route over the mountains in winter, with an added complication: a precocious eleven-year-old girl as a passenger. Forced to crash-land in the snow-covered mountains, the pilot ...more
Carla JFCL
May 13, 2011 Carla JFCL rated it really liked it
Ernest K. Gann was a “pilot’s pilot” and wrote many novels that proved it. This one is set in 1928 and tells the story of a then-modern-day “pony express” rider–a U.S. Mail pilot whose plane goes down in the Rocky Mountains during a bout of bad weather. He also had a passenger on the trip: an intellectual 11-year-old girl traveling to visit relatives, whose parents wanted her to see the world from the air instead of sending her by a safer mode of travel. (Could anything be less safe than riding ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
Found this book on our 'basement' bookshelf. Know I read it almost 35 years ago, when it was published in 1981. However, seemed like I was reading it for the first time. A short, quick read, but thought provoking. Makes you realize how important others are to us, and that everyone should have someone to love and care about.
Mar 17, 2008 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Bare bones story of 1920'S air-mail pilot crashing with young girl passenger. The Pilot's interaction and thoughts about the girl seem odd and make you wonder if he is a pedophile. The whole story seems to have some holes in it. Author's aviation experience shows. Passable writing.
John Sperling
Sep 24, 2015 John Sperling rated it really liked it
The characters in this book are fairly straightforward: the outcast, the innocent, the coward, the administrator-they are well-defined, but fairly one-sided. But the writing is plain, simple, and from the heart, which is one of the things I like about Ernest Gann.
Jan 23, 2013 Jenna rated it it was ok
Pretty good book. I heard it was creepy because of the relationship between the little girl and the pilot but it was more about feeling a connection to someone than anything physical. It was fairly intense with several close calls but the ending was anticlimactic.
Deanna Slade
Jul 05, 2010 Deanna Slade rated it liked it
This book reads like a true story with great authenticity and is a gripping tale of the early days of airmail service and what happened to one pilot and his young girl passenger.
Dec 13, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Gann was a commercial pilot himself.

He KNOWS how to write air stories.

He also wrote The High and the Mighty
Arlene Allen
Aug 13, 2010 Arlene Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across this when I was working at B. Dalton and it was a "stripped" book. What a powerful little novel.
Don Gubler
Aug 22, 2012 Don Gubler rated it really liked it
Has a ring of authenticity about it.
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Ernest K Gann was an aviator, author, filmmaker, sailor, fisherman and conservationist.

After earning his pilot license, Gann spent his much of his free time aloft, flying for pleasure. The continuing Great Depression soon cost him his job and he was unable to find another position in the movie business. In search of work, he decided to move his family to California. Gann was able to find odd jobs
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