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North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  18 reviews
It is rare to find one person whose life embodies the history of an industry the way Bob Buck's life encompasses the history of commercial aviation in America. Buck first flew in the 1920s, inspired by the exploits of Charles Lindbergh. In 1930, at age sixteen, he flew solo from coast to coast, breaking the junior transcontinental speed record. In 1936 he flew nonstop from ...more
Hardcover, 446 pages
Published April 2nd 2002 by Simon & Schuster
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Dec 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: flying
Buck has lead a fascinating life in the air, and on that merit alone I give this book the three stars. The amount of aviation history of you learn about by reading his story is amazing.

Unfortunately the content only barely sustains the horrid writing. It suffers from the same bland and cliched writing that anyone who regularly reads aviation magazines is all too familiar with. I'm talking about things like not understanding which details are relevant to a story and which aren't, so the author ju
Peter Tillman
My notes: Great first chapter, mixed after that. Stalled 6/15/15. DNF. 2.5 stars
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It stands proudly next to the legendary Ernie Gann's autobiography: Faint Is The Hunter. One of the best aviation books I've read and I've read more than a few. ...more
Craig Daniels
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Bit of a poor man’s Fate is the Hunter, by Ernie Gann (who, ironically is referenced by this author in this book and knew him). They flew at the same time, on the same aircraft, and both were involved in some unique, envelope-pushing flying and witnessed monumental change. In this case, there are a good number of interesting anecdotes, particularly about the investigation of weather, but they’re not delivered with near the crisp, clear, seat-of-the-pants handling of Gann (who, frankly, is a rema ...more
Brian Thompson
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a poorly written book, and bears no comparison at all to Ernie Gann's Fate is the Hunter even though they tell similar tales from the same era.

Bob Buck simply cannot write, Gann could. North Star is a mildly interesting read - once, but only to aviation enthusiasts. It is full of peripheral, frequently boring detail, name dropping and gives the impression of "the big I am". By contrast Gann writes beautifully, and in a personally very understated manner.

If you are looking for literature
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant look at the early years of flying, before Jet flight, by a pilot who flew everything from Barnstorming Biplanes to being one of the first pilots to fly the 707 and 747 .
May 19, 2010 rated it liked it

"North Star Over My Shoulder, 'A flying life'". Bob Buck, 2002. Sitting high in the left seat of a TWA Boeing 747, literally perched from the pinnacle of his career, Captain Bob Buck reflects back on his experiences in aviation, -his 'flying life'. And although I too share this familiar 'flying life' it was exhilarating to read words that I have often thought, experienced and felt. I would have liked to have flown with Bob Buck. Even though our experiences are several generations a part, we shar
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bob Buck is a pioneer in aviation having learned to fly at the age of 16 in 1929. He went on to flying for one of the first airlines in the U.S. During WWII he flew transports all over the world for the Army Air Corps. Retired from TWA in the 1970's after flying 747's. In his writing he teaches the reader many tricks of the trade flying in vairous situatuions and coping with constantly changing weather conditions. Tons of flying experiences varying from realaxed to very intense, he shares with t ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love the book. It is not a literary masterpiece but it takes you to a time where pilots were heros and flying a jet over the Atlantic was an adventure and not an everyday occurrence. Plus, Bob stayed in Bad Homburg (even though he spells it Bad Hamburg) in the old Ritters Parkhotel (which is now the Steigenberger) which made this even more "close to home" for me.

I guess I can only recommend the book though for people with a serious connection to flying. Otherwise you probably will think that
Jim Bouchard
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A tremendous story of aviation told by a man who started in the earliest days and flew into the modern age of commercial flight.

Full of adventure and great tales- equally appealing to aviation enthusiasts to those who take to the skies as passengers for business or pleasure!
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
As a former private/instrument rated pilot I thought this book would be interesting and it was even more than that. A very readable, well-told and thoughtful story of a life spent largely in the air all over the world.
Mrs. Palmer
If you like aviation history, definitely check out this book. The constant references to the attractive hostesses got annoying after a while, but the overall story is quite interesting for anyone who wants to know more about the early years of commercial flight in America.
Mark Smith
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent book written autobiographically of Bob who grew up on the cutting edge of aviation and navigation systems. It was fascinating getting a history of flight and the development of airports, systems and processes as aviation "took off". ...more
Beau Smith
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
The flying life of Bob Buck. Thi sis the man that inspired Charles Lindburgh. Buck's life was really exciting and he crossed paths with some of the most famous and infamous characters of the early 1900's. This is a must read memoir. ...more
Alex Siegel
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 26, 2015 added it
If you're interested in the history of commercial flying, this is the book for you. This guy's a good writer. I bet he was a heckuva pilot, too. Fascinating read. ...more
T.A. Clark
Aug 07, 2008 rated it liked it
It's not a great book, but an interesting read. It gives some insight into the early days of airline flying. ...more
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