I wrote this several years ago, and never got around to publishing it. Now that this and another of Jill’s books (Oshkosh Memories) are available for the Kindle, it’s time to set it loose. -Adam
An unscientific survey yielded an answer I already knew to begin with — on a pilot’s list of favorite things to do, the activity immediately below flying itself is to talk about flying.
Capitalizing on that is a book compiled by Jill Rutan Hoffman (yes, that Rutan. Jill is a pilot (Dick’s daughter, Burt’s niece) and no stranger to flying or the aviator’s way of life). First Flights documents various first experiences from the perspectives of the pilots who flew them. There are stories from the Rutan family (including Jill’s husband Lars’ first flight in a U2), stories from people you’ve heard of from EAA, and stories from people you’ve not heard of.
The stories will put you in 40+ right seats for 20 bucks. (2012 edit: now $4 on Kindle!) You’ll learn, you’ll laugh, you may even shed a tear (but in that same way I
can’t make it through the reverse jib shot over the kid riding a pedal plane down the mini-runway of the observation area in Brian Terwilliger’s documentary “One Six Right”), and I’m certain First Flights is one book you’d never want your money back on. And in regards to money, every penny that doesn’t pay for the paper it’s printed on goes to support aviation as well as space programs for kids. The stories, artwork, and Jill’s time gathering and publishing were all donated.
So sit back on your favorite airport bench off the active, and experience the stories: the guy so passionate about flight he took five Cessna-sponsored $5 introductory flights before getting caught; the farmer who jumped off his tractor to first flight a stranger’s homebuilt; the world speed record for a glide from FL380 to 0; riding a UAV like a horse; the first dock with Mir; and dozens of others. I read it straight through on the first sitting, and I bet you’ll want to also.