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Fate is the Hunter

4.48 of 5 stars 4.48  ·  rating details  ·  761 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Ernest K. Gann’s classic memoir is an up-close and thrilling account of the treacherous early days of commercial aviation. In his inimitable style, Gann brings you right into the cockpit, recounting both the triumphs and terrors of pilots who flew when flying was anything but routine.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 2nd 1986 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1961)
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West with the Night by Beryl MarkhamCatch-22 by Joseph HellerWind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeFate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann
Aviation Books
5th out of 168 books — 82 voters
Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. GannStick and Rudder by Wolfgang LangewiescheYeager by Chuck YeagerThe Right Stuff by Tom WolfeWar Dog by Damien Lewis
Aviation, Aerospace and Flight.
1st out of 46 books — 20 voters

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Community Reviews

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Matt Lavine
Jul 27, 2008 Matt Lavine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Aviaition
Recommended to Matt by: I found it at the library by myself =D
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 07, 2015 Hasan added it
"I'll teach you how to escape death.
...there is a raven in the eastern sea which is called Yitai ("dull-head"). This dull-head cannot fly very high and seems very stupid. It hops only a short distance and nestles close with others of its kind. In going forward, it dare not lag behind. At the time of feeding, it takes what is left over by the other birds. Therefore, the ranks of this bird are never depleted and nobody can do them any harm. A tree with a straight trunk is the first to be chopped d
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

A fascinating near-autobiography by an airline pilot who flew from the late 1930s into the 1950s, the era of DC-2s, DC-3s, C-87s, and DC-4s. Gann has some great stories to share, many quite frightening, and some of will have you gripping the edges of the book like a control yoke, your knuckles white. My god, those were dangerous days, and the early airline pilots took risks that would be inconceivable today, letting down through solid weather with inaccurate altimeter se
For aviators, this is the ultimate, classic memoir. Ernest Gann started flying in the late thirties, flew transport planes all over the world during WWII, and continued flying for airlines thereafter. This book is part chronicle of his many adventures and misadventures, part collection of thoughts on life and flying.

Even a pilot with my limited experience can immediately discern the fundamental authenticity in the erudite voice of this true aviator. The book is episodic, with sequential periods
Jan 05, 2015 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody that loves flying
Recommended to Jeff by: Brad
Really good book, written in 1961, about the early days of flying. Starts out in DC2s and DC3s, flying mail routes and other similar tasks, then moved to doing flights for the military as WWII began to unfold. He doesn't make a real big deal about it, but the author really lost a LOT of friends to airplanes over the years, and he had some close calls but was able to out-distance "fate" at each juncture. I can especially relate to his speaking of the insatiable appetite of a pilot to look skyward ...more
This book helped me decide to become an airline pilot. Any professional pilot will feel right at home with Gann in the cockpit. He starts out as a new hire First Officer for American Airlines, learning the ropes on the DC2 and DC3. It is fascinating to experience the working conditions of that era, and make us realize how much we owe to those pioneers, and how much technology has made air travel so safe and reliable today. And while so much has changed, there are still human elements that remain ...more
Oct 25, 2012 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 5-star
An absolutely perfect read. A must for any pilot, or travel enthusiast. Gann's words sounded like poetry at times as he described how aviation evolved into the modern era. I felt as though I was sitting in a dusty hangar listening to a man talk of his career. Aviation can truly be mundane one moment and heart-pounding the next. Gann captured those moments wonderfully.
Michael Burnam-fink
Man was not meant to fly.

No, seriously. Planes just want to fall out of the sky and kill us all, and yet we still go up.

Gann chronicles his experiences as a pilot in the early days of airline travel (late 1930s), through air transit command during WW2, and the travails of starting a new airline to Hawaii. He writes lyrically about the beauty of flight, the recalcitrance of machines, and the cruelties of fate that separate one man's survival from the deaths of dozens of his comrades-crashed into
Ally Ports
Amazing tales of one of the first commercial pilots. As a pilot myself I was spellbound but I am pretty sure even a novice would fall head first into the exhilaration adventures as time passes across World War II and the first people of the sky open up the world and discover new frontiers.
Great personal stories of the early days of commercial aviation told with picturesque words by a long-time professional pilot who flew all over the world. The character treatments are as profound as the descriptions of scenery and events. My third read.
Sue Uden
I was recommended this book by a young pilot we met at a dinner party. He kept us entertained, not to say riveted to our chairs with stories of his flying experience and training and said that he was sure that any pilot would agree that Fate Is The Hunter is by far the best and most true to life account of aviation history, background and skills ever written. He was so enthusiastic that I was prompted to buy it and although totally outside of my normal reading sphere, or even interest, I am so p ...more
Absolutely my most favorite book.
Nov 10, 2014 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I enjoyed reading Fate is the Hunter and would recommend it to aviation enthusiasts. Its appeal, however, may be limited to that group which has a strong interest in a niche of aviation history from the viewpoint of a personal memoir. It was published in 1961 and now reads like a period piece. The author's viewpoint and rich vocabulary are highly reflective of a different generation. For me, that was part of the appeal, reading about those times of an earlier era of air transport from a man who ...more
What's remarkable about the writing of Fate is the Hunter is the writing; how Gann's has taken a fairly complex subject and dithered it to bits laying on language I found inescapably breathtaking.

"Wither are we bound?" - gosh I cried laughing.

I can flip to any page in the book, any at all, and find one of his inescapably breathtaking clauses. Page 204. "It can never be tomorrow if you're alive." I had to do a double read on that verse, though many others found me one enchanted reader.

There were
Wow! As I sat, rapidly thumbing through the pages in my spare time, I was awestruck from the first to the last page. I love historical books and, as a pilot, historical aviation books are especially delightful. Capt Gann paints a masterful picture of the dangerous days of early aviation and of the mysterious force, fate, that keeps excellent young aviators from long careers, while older, equally capable men live on by staying a fingernails length away from death's grasp. The recounted events are ...more
Paul Foley
Gann seems to channel the spirit of Hemingway in this no-frills first person account of the early days of airline transport. He jumps right in with a highly entertaining account of a fresh batch of ex-barnstormers being transformed into professional pilots. This is in the era when airplanes were still mostly made of wood and canvas, and the epitome of airline travel was the brand-new, all metal, twin-engine tail dragger, the DC-3. The chapters that follow are a chronicle of his experiences and a ...more
A somewhat wordy account of a career in flying that spanned the war and witnessed the "golden age" of seaplanes, ultra-luxurious liners criss-crossing America and the more mundane transportation of troops and supplies across the Atlantic or over "The Hump" into Asia. Gann was a workaday pilot, seeing none of the romance of fighter pilots or the grinding fear of the US bombers over Europe. He did, however, have more than his fair share of close calls, and much of the book is concerned with recoun ...more
Aleksander Sowa
Od dziecka patrzyłem w niebo i spoglądałem na ptaki, zazdroszcząc im lotu. I marzyłem o tym, by latać. Różnica między chłopcem a mężczyzną jest jednak taka, że pierwszy marzy, a drugi - stawia sobie cele. Dziś jestem pilotem i skoczkiem spadochronowym. A że interesuje mnie też literatura, książki dotyczące tej tematyki czytuję regularnie.
Napisano wiele lepszych (a jeszcze więcej - gorszych) książek na ten temat. Jest kilku znanych pisarzy-pilotów, z najsławniejszym de Saint-Exupéry’m na czele. J
A piece of literature, in disguise as a aviation book

Who'd of ever thought that a pilot and the overall field of aviation could be written about with such eloquence, beauty and vividness. Since I was a child, I've been an aviation enthusiast so Gann's book which spans both pre and post-WWII aviation is exactly the kind of novel I love.

For me, a couple of lessons were particularly poignant from Gann's descriptions of early commercial aviation. His descriptions of being a terrified and bullied co-
Robert Kuzmiak
"... w jaki sposób potrafi człowiek, częściowo chociażby, zapanować nad swoim losem?[...] Pogańscy bogowie, którzy kiedyś to wszystko tłumaczyli, stali się niemodni. Współczesne religie ignorują los."

Leciwa już książka Ganna ukazuje kulisy początków lotnictwa liniowego. Wraz z autorem rozpoczynamy przygodę od lotów jako pierwszy oficer samolotu DC-2. Potem zostajemy kapitanem DC-3. Niełatwe czasy drugiej wojny angażują nas w transatlantyckim lotnictwie transportowym.
Historie opowiedziane są ni
Richard Jespers
Wonderful memoir of an airline pilot. Also author of The High and the Mighty (both films, as well). Wonderful descriptions with virtuosity of language (great vocabulary). This book demonstrates how a person can write quite effectively about things most people know nothing about (flying an airplane). Gann contrasts “fortune” and “fate” repeatedly throughout as a motif.
A wonderful book written from a pilot's view. It is not written for pilots only but for a general audience. Gann shows how it used to be and illustrates how far we've come in how air travel is done. That he was a gifted writer is beyond doubt and I consider Fate is the Hunter his best.
Today's aviation industry is being consumed by automation, glass avionics, and GPS. Gann takes you back to the golden age of aviation where flight crews used stick-and-rudder skills, pilotage, pencil and paper dead reckoning, and celestial navigation. Pilots flew in uncharted regions of the globe with little to no radio navigation or air traffic control. This was an age where aviators were well respected heroes rather than union supported, under-payed, and over-worked systems monitors.

This book
Okay, I’m a fiend for aviation literature.

Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter” is one of the most well-known books in aviation circles, chronicling events Gann was a witness to as he was a pilot in the first days of the airline business.

Gann flew for a couple different airlines in the 1930s and 40s, and later flew for the Army air service shuttling men and supplies across Newfoundland during WWII, and later across “the Hump”, the airlift from India to Burma to China over the Himalayas, also in WWII.

Someone might naively think that there can't be much of interest that happens in the daily life of a commercial aviation pilot. With a dedication to over 400 commercial pilots who had lost their lives in the course of their duties, this book dispels that notion. The author takes the reader with him into the cockpit and the reader vicariously lives through some remarkable and terrifying white knuckle experiences. It gives one a whole new appreciation for the dedication and skill of those pioneers ...more
George Gregory
One of my all time favourite aviation books. The author was a commercial pilot during the birth of our modern air transport system and the tome is a fascinating eyewitness account. Gann's command of the language itself makes the book well worth reading, rich and evocative.
Tom Burkhalter
Gann, with this book, has written an entertaining account of his adventures in the early days of flying the airlines. His account begins just before America's entry into World War II as he learns to fly the DC-3. During the war he graduates to larger aircraft such as the C-87 and the DC-4. Airplanes and their crews are his subject, and the ride is never less than interesting and often thrilling -- a little too thrilling, as one may discern from time to time.

One thing I found particularly charmin
Excellent book. As a pilot I really enjoyed the constant flights and moment by moment narration. Very exciting to the very end of the book. You really do fly along and experience every flight in this book. The writing is excellent!
Paul Maullin
Remarkable account of a pilot flying DC-3's in the 1930's and 40's. Makes you realise how dull and safe modern flying is. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in flying.
Great story of the early days of commercial aviation. Ernest Gann flew in the formative period of American airliners, with service hauling cargo across the globe in WWII.
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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
More about Ernest K. Gann...
To Kill a Mockingbird / The Agony and the Ecstasy / The Winter of Our Discontent / Fate is the Hunter Masada The High And The Mighty In the Company of Eagles The Aviator

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“In referance to flying through thunderstorms; "A pilot may earn his full pay for that year in less than two minutes. At the time of incident he would gladly return the entire amount for the privilege of being elsewhere.” 5 likes
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