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Flight Path: A Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In the months leading up to the birth of her first child, Hannah Palmer discovers that all three of her childhood houses have been wiped out by the expansion of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Having uprooted herself from a promising career in publishing in her adopted Brooklyn), Palmer embarks on a quest to determine the fate of her lost homesand of a ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Hub City Press
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Part autobiography, part eulogy for a disappearing South, part urban design and planning, Palmer's work takes us on a tour of her past now buried under the world's busiest airport in Atlanta, GA. She does a fine job weaving these related yet disparate threads into a coherent story.

This is also a tale of how one Southern couple from just this side of the wrong side of the tracks got out of town and headed for the bright lights and other attractions of the New York City area. Eventually, living th
Megan Bell
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Part memoir, part urban history, Hannah Palmer's Flight Path is entirely fascinating, witty, and tender. Years after leaving the South for Brooklyn, Palmer returns to Atlanta ready to start a family and searching for her roots. While her husband doubles down on home improvements, a pregnant Palmer hits the pavement, intent on finding out what happened to her childhood homes, which have disappeared along with entire neighborhoods and cities beneath the sprawling complex of the busiest airport in ...more
Brit Blankenship
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fun
Best book I've read all year. It has taught me so much about the stories of the southside of Atlanta. About the displacement and erasing that has occurred because of our airport. About the state farmer's market, and history of entire cities no longer. It's brought to life the neighborhoods where my Grandma solo-raised my dad. It's answered my questions about Hapeville and why there was a gap on my commute to Grant Park from McDonough.
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An important read, especially if you live in Georgia.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first I didn't think I'd like it, but this book snuck up on me in a good way. I'm not usually a fan of memoir-style analysis where personal history gets blended with the subject that the author is an expert on. (A lot of anthropology books back in college were like that.) However, in this case, it really worked because of how connected Palmer's family history was to the neighborhoods around the airport, and Palmer's sense of humor.

It was fascinating to learn about entire towns on Atlanta's s
Jeanne Julian
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Hannah Palmer weaves the personal and the sociological into this memoir: a search for her roots becomes also a search for a new approach to creating meaningful, connected communities. That latter point sounds pompous, but this isn't a pompous book at all. It's honest and down to earth. The author's childhood neighborhoods in Atlanta--the houses where she formed her first memories--have been obliterated by the ravenous spread of tarmac, institutional-looking buildings, and noise that is the"world ...more
Karen Hazzah
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like the author, I'm an Atlanta native. I grew up in the northern suburbs, and so I'm not very familiar with the south side and the airport. Even so, I certainly recognized the names of the towns and remembered the big companies located on the south side (Eastern Airlines, Ford).

I really enjoyed this memoir. Now that I've reached middle age, I find myself reading more memoirs like this one about childhood, family, and the power of place. I was also drawn to this book because the organizing prin
Jill Bowman
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
5 stars aren't enough for this book. Now, admittedly, I've lived in East Point for 10 years, flown in and out of the airport innumerable times, travel weekly past the old town of Mountain View on my way to the Forest Park Farmers Market and the Library - so I have a tender spot for this book. But that said I thought this was a heart warming and heart wrenching look into the life of one woman, many people, several towns and what was once the old south.
Beautifully written... I enjoyed every minut
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you live in Atlanta, this is a really fascinating and impactful read that hits close to home--literally. The demolition of these neighborhoods seems like a relatively small part of Atlanta's history, but it is a story worth telling, and Palmer does it beautifully. Simultaneously a historical mapping of Atlanta and a reflection on the concept of home, this book really did shift my perspective of the city, and of my place in it. I pay more attention to the changes I've seen since my childhood, ...more
Brock Adams
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everyone has flown through the ATL airport at some point, right? Most of us, however, have never thought about the communities that surround it--or that were displaced by its inexorable growth. Hannah Palmer seamlessly blends thorough research, cultural commentary, and memoir in this deep dive into the history of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Though it slows a bit in its final third, Flight Path is ultimately a bittersweet look into the life cycles of cities and the people wh ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
LOVED this. If you've ever found yourself gazing at the ruins of the South Atlanta/airport sprawl and wondering what used to be here or what is yet to come, this is a great read. I'm so impressed by the amount of research Palmer put into a topic that so many of us give a passing thought to. Her interweaving of the airport and surrounding area's history with her own is such a fantastic depiction of how our sense of place can be tied to unexpected and unintended locations. Four-point-five stars be ...more
Ann Fleming
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was much better than I anticipated.

It is the reading selection for the book club at Read It Again. When I saw it, I groaned. I do not particularly like to read non-fiction. After the first few pages, I was telling myself that I really did not want to read this book.


I persisted and enjoyed it tremendously. It was a walk through Atlanta history interspersed with anecdotes from the author's life.

There were time when I could not put it down.
Hannah Palmer - you won me over!!!!
Paula Ross
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I grew up in East Point, and my father worked for Delta during this time, but I didn’t realize how other parts of the area were impacted by the expansion or the true importance of ATL to the city. Part informative, part trip down memory lane, I found myself on Google Earth looking for vestiges of my childhood. Southern literature (think O’Connor and Welty) is steeped in “sense of place,” and this book is a modern example of just that. Beyond being a book about South Atlanta, Palmer speaks to our ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, memoir-bio
This book was a beautiful exploration of an intertwined personal and public history. I appreciated the research and clarity that she brought to this book and the relatively even-handedness that she spoke about great social change over a relatively short period of time. I think it was well written and very enjoyable to read.
Ellen Johnson
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I bought copies for my brother and my cousin,, since the places she lived, especially Forest Park and McDonough, were central in our lives too. made me wonder if I would ever feel compelled to visit all the places I've lived likke she did. interesting airport history for an Atlanta native.
MaryBeth Long
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Southern gothic. Kudzu. To books what R.E.M.'s "Murmur" was to albums. Old but modern. Archeology yet human psychology. A compelling read for anyone interested in The South, Atlanta or where our culture is now.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my new favorite books, to be reread and savored many times.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, memoir
It doesn't seem quite fair that such a young person can write so well. Brava, Hannah! This is a fascinating memoir in which the Atlanta Airport plays a memorable role.
Nina Guzman
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this book enough.
Oct 10, 2020 added it
Maybe my expectations were misguided here, but I was hoping for more history and less autobiography. The writing is clear and the story weaves well; it just felt like a missed opportunity.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Kathy Piselli
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southlands
Bit of a melancholy song of Atlanta - the city too busy to sustain neighborhoods.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting read on the history of Atlanta's neighborhoods swallowed by the airport and the author's personal memoir.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful book about what houses and homes can be a part of life and the impact that ongoing changes to areas can have.
K.W. Colyard
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews

Returning to Atlanta after four years spent living in New York City, Hannah Palmer discovered that her three childhood homes had been eaten up by the sprawl of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The new mom-to-be set out to discover how and when the airport happened to her houses, and what she learned became the basis for her first memoir, Flight Path: A Search for Roots beneath the World's Busiest Airport.

Palmer's memoir never feels as if it reaches her desired altitude. Half

Nathan Griffin
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Super interesting memoir for anyone familiar with Atlanta. Palmer's search for the demolished houses that were part of her childhood growing up in the shadow of the Atlanta airport underscores the impact on human lives that "progress" has on cities.

There's no shortage of conversations about the tension of gentrification and revitalization in Atlanta, but none of them seem to touch the area around the airport. It was cool to see a book on this area
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Richard Brooks
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Apr 13, 2017
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