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Flight of Passage: A Memoir

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  920 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
This story is a memoir- an adventure story. In the summer of 1966 two schoolboys from new Jersey bought a dilapidated Piper Vub for $300.00, rebuilt it in their barn and took off on the journey of a lifetime across the Rickies to California.
Paperback, 351 pages
Published May 27th 1998 by Hyperion (first published 1997)
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Mar 28, 2009 Coco rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coming-of-age, memoir
I never would have read this one if we had not chosen it for my book club. What a great find, though. Rinker Buck and his brother take a cross-country trip in a Piper Cub. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but their adventures, along with some unforgettable characters they meet along the way, make for a memorable read. Their dad is quite a guy and I really enjoyed looking at their family photos. Even if you don't care about aviation, give this one a try.
Hermann Gucinski
Mar 03, 2009 Hermann Gucinski rated it it was amazing
Rinker Buck's memoir tells the story of growing up and breaking free from a strong Dad in a large catholic family in the early sixties, using a unique approach--he and his then 17-year old brother Kern totally re-build a plane, a Piper Cub bought for $300, and then fly it across the US from New Jersey to California and back--no radio, seat-of-the-pants flying. This could be a serious story for a specialized audience, but it is not--the humor--page after page of it--, the adventures, the timeless ...more
Bill Riddell
Terrific read, depicting the small details of this exciting trip and the preperation for it.

For pilots of small airplanes it is especially fun to feel the experience of past trips and the nuances of flight.
May 17, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was given to me by a friend who knew that my daughter had soloed on her 16th birthday and is just marking time until she is 17 to get her private pilot's license! While those interested in aviation may find this a good read for that information alone, it is a great book on another level as well. As the author heads west, his relationship with his father is explored and that makes for interesting reading even for those of us who are timid flyers!
Jan 02, 2009 Bob rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was hilarious! If you like flying, or just like a good real-life coming-of-age adventure story (2 teen/young-adults fly cross country in a small plane), this is a great book!
Courtney Crane
Oct 27, 2007 Courtney Crane rated it it was amazing
This is a great coming of age book for anyone interested in aviation. I savored each new challenge the young aviators faced and conquered. Highly recommend!
Feb 15, 2015 Rose rated it liked it
I started out loving the narrative of Rinker Buck, until he and his brother, Kern, reach Texas on their cross-country odyssey in a small Cub plane. The story lost its authenticity for me at that point. The reason is because earlier in the memoir, Rinker, emphasized the summers spent with the family on vacations riding in a converted school bus and other odd adventures their father made for the family of 11 children. But he never mentioned a corral their father built for them to learn to handle c ...more
Nov 16, 2015 Marian rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable book. Originally, I expected only flying story, but the book offerd much more to me -- view into psychology of different types of relationships, i.e. between siblings, son and father or person and general public. Amazingly written description of terrific journey with lots of funny and dead-serious anecdotes. Highly recommended for every aviation fan or anybody who likes good memoires
Jul 24, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it
I don't usually do autobiographical stuff--but I really liked this book. It's the story of Rinker Buck and his brother Kernahan (P.S. love the names) and their flight across the country in a Piper Cub airplane. They were the youngest people to ever do so and this story is heartwarming and hilarious.
Feb 07, 2008 Alycia rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved thus book. I hated the swearing and bad language, but I still give this book a 5. It is written well and is adventurous. It is a page turner. It had some really funny stories in it too.
Feb 08, 2008 Laneburritt rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The young at heart
Recommended to Laneburritt by: My husband
This is a nice read. The story about two teenage boys flying across the country seems to elicit the dreamer in me. When i was a teenager I wanted to fly so much.
Jan 07, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
a great read about 2 brothers flying coast-to-coast in a small Cessna. I (along with the other 6 people who read this book) STRONGLY recommend it!
Aug 25, 2007 Nikki rated it really liked it
A book I never would have read without it being put on our Book Club's reading list for the year. Very glad it was. Found it immensely entertaining and informative. What an amazing story!
Mar 25, 2009 Don rated it it was amazing
The dreams we dream as boys and live out as boys or men are all-powerful. A wonderful memoir about flying and the relationship with an older brother and an overbearing father...
Jun 19, 2013 Beedo180 rated it really liked it
Great coming of age in the earl 1960's book. Great flying book. Heartily recommended.
Sep 28, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
Pilots, read it. People, read it. The message is broader than aviation (though I am a pilot).
Nov 28, 2008 Carly rated it it was amazing
Favorite book!
Julie Waldman
Feb 04, 2017 Julie Waldman rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group
Well, I never would have picked up this book on my own, but someone chose it for my book group. I slogged through the first half -- it was like reading an extended article in Boy's Life and I had to work to get engaged. The second half, though, was pretty enjoyable other than the vicarious air-sickness, and sped by!
Sheldon  Friedman
Jan 19, 2017 Sheldon Friedman rated it it was amazing
Wonderful memoir by one of two teenagers flying a Piper Cub from New Jersey to California. An exciting read.
John Weiser
Jan 25, 2017 John Weiser rated it it was amazing
Fantastic story. Loved reading about the adventure of flying and traveling across the United States.
Dec 14, 2016 George rated it really liked it
The eponymously titled Flight of Passage is a warm, funny account of two brothers and their record setting flight across the country in a 1938 Piper Cub in post JFK America. At the core of this story are the conflicts between two brothers and their complicated relationship with their former barnstorming father. Fifteen year old Rinker Buck is the first person narrator and navigator. Seventeen year old Kernahan Buck is the pilot. Rink is the outgoing, self-confident high school jock and all aroun ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Well, I expected this to be good - how could the tale of two teenage brothers flying together in a Piper Cub across continental Ammerica east to west and back again NOT be good?! - but I think this was in the end an excellent read. I was moved, charmed, and thrilled by the story of Rinker and his older brother Kern first restoring the aircraft in the family barn over the winter, and then the adventure of the flight itself.

But there was more to this book than the 'adventure' itself. This is an en
Nov 22, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great memoir written by a man who fifty years ago at the age of 15 flew coast-to-coast with his 17 year old brother in a Piper Cub two-seat radioless plane. In 1966 Rinker Buck and his brother Kern (Kernahan) rebuilt a 30 year old two-seater bought for $300 and then flew it from New Jersey to LA. A pretty amazing feat I now realize once I learned how these intrepid travelers fought through and around hostile weather conditions and journeyed over the Rocky Mountains pushing the plane to its lim ...more
Dec 08, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I've been recommending it to everyone, I'm buying/giving it as Christmas presents too. This is a great read to get insight into father/son relations and coming of age mentality of teenage boys. The flying and characters met on their cross-country adventure are fantastic. This book made me LOL several times as well which ranks it high on my list of must reads.
Sep 03, 2013 Joyce rated it it was amazing
I was curious about this book, as the author was a class or two ahead of me at college and I knew him slightly. What a well-told, enjoyable story! In 1966, Rink and his brother, both experienced amateur pilots trained by their former-barnstormer dad, recondition a Piper Cub and fly it from Basking Ridge, NJ to California. They are 15 and 17 at the time, flying without radio, with $300 they raised plowing driveways in the winter. They sleep under the Cub's wing each night, and get invaluable tips ...more
Oct 06, 2015 Garrett rated it really liked it
I rated Flight of Passage 4 stars because I thought that this book was phenomenal. It truly was a great book. Although this book is quite boring in the beginning as the author just talks about Kerns and Rinks life and relationship with each other and their father, he does allow you to start to get to know the characters. I really liked how rink and kern began to have a bond together with flying. That was when I got hooked. I couldn't stop reading until I finished it. I didn't want it to end.
I r
Daniel Currie
Oct 08, 2013 Daniel Currie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Daniel by: Valerie Richardson
I would give this 3.5 stars if they had that rating.

This is simply the story of 2 brothers who made a cross country trip in a small plane in 1966. The younger brother tells the story.

It starts out pretty slow. They have LOTS of daddy issues and that carries thru the whole book, but it is particularly prominent in the first 100 pages, before they get off the ground. Even tho they grew up with 11 children in the family their dad seemed to focus all his energy on the two brothers. The siblings are
Christine Negroni
Nov 25, 2016 Christine Negroni rated it it was amazing
On its face, Flight of Passage is the story of two teen-aged brothers who along with their domineering and alcoholic father, restore a unpressurized, single engine airplane. The two teens then spend a summer flying the plane it across the country. So it is first an adventure tale of perseverance and courage with heaping doses of the foolhardiness typical of boys of that age.

As we learn more about the difficult relationship between these brothers and their dad, it becomes clear the flight of pas
Jun 02, 2013 Heather rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, from the writing style that was no-nonsense and yet introspective, to the story and settings. It seems like a story that could have only happened in the 1960s, with the innocent, clean-cut, "Leave it to Beaver" mentality. And the juxtaposition of these times and attitudes with the boys' gutter talk was pretty great.

Aside from the sheer adventure of two teens discovering the wide range of geography and people in the USA, I loved the relationship between the brothers. Kern seems
Several years ago, at a library function, a friend told me that this was one of her favorite books. A copy fell into my hands and so finally, I have read it. I found this story to be good, the writing excellent and the entire book worth reading. Probably not my favorite, but thank goodness for differing tastes.

Rinker Buck had a slightly bizarre childhood, although it probably seemed normal to him. His father was larger than life and the dad kept his two oldest sons hopping.

This is a true coming
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Rinker Buck began his career in journalism at the Berkshire Eagle and was a longtime staff writer for the Hartford Courant. He has written for Vanity Fair, New York, Life, and many other publications, and his stories have won the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Writing Award and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award. He is the author of The Oregon Trail as well as the ...more
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“All the heroes had crew cuts, platinum-blond wives and drove Corvettes. The media was devoted to this cult of innocence.” 2 likes
“Until I read about it nearly twenty years later, in a book about instrument flying, I didn’t realize that I suffered throughout our flight from something called copilot vertigo. The phenomenon is especially severe in tandem-seat designs like Cubs, where visibility over the pilot in front is limited.” 0 likes
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