Without a doubt the funniest and most informative book you’ll ever read about a pilot’s life and about the fear of flying.

“A book about flying that will make you laugh out loud”

The Other side of fear

A book about flying that you will enjoy and make you relax too!

Fearful flyers who overcome their fear and manage to take a flight tell me that they are faced with the problem of finding something to do to occupy themselves during their flight. Strangely many say how re-assured they are to hear that my life as a pilot is remarkably normal and far from the dare-devil, blue-eyed stereotype that Hollywood portrays. Often they are amazed that I paid no extra premium for my life insurance cover and that my kids were never interested in where I was flying to and from. Dad just went to work like any other dad.


Eventually, I was persuaded by a fearful flyer  to write an ‘autobiography’ … and this is it. 


But it’s a million miles from what you’d expect from a pilot or from any autobiographer. There are no tales of being ‘upside down with nothing on the clock except the maker’s name’, no near misses no seconds from disaster stuff, no fighting with the controls stuff. Just a job where I went to work and came home again that evening or a few days later. 


My retired fellow pilots ( “wasn’t like it in my day” ) will not forgive me for exposing their meanness and their non stop bragging about their boats on our social media platform…especially the ones with big fat pensions. And no I haven’t flown Concord …so I have to buy my own drinks at the pub and talk about other people rather than myself. 


It’s a mixture of the serious and of the normal, and my view of the absurdity of the things we’re expected to call normal. If you’ve ever had a spare moment to think about airport parking you’d soon realise how preposterous the system is. Terminals, shops, coffee shops, car raffles and the opportunity to buy a metre long Toblerone bar is like Alice’s adventure thru’ wonderland, except that to an anxious  traveller ‘wonderland’ would be the very last word you’d use to describe it. Then all the pushing and shoving and waiting on board as you embark and disembark. It really is an amusing madhouse if only you stop and look.I’ve had enough time to stop and look.


So that’s what I’ve done for you I’ve stopped and looked … and what a sight it turns out to be. What seems to be normal because we have to conform for so many years, is in fact a product of an unsupervised mad house. But there’s nothing here to cause you worry …it’s all amusing observational stuff.


My love of the theatre, the countryside  and of flying  woven into the meandering plot too. There’s stuff about being a boy with a love of flying and doing jobs to pay for my flying lessons.  I mention Fred a hospital porter who, when I was a junior hospital porter,  introduced me to the  dignity and fun of moving dead bodies, and having fun with pig swill. I defy you not to be moved by the short story of this simple man and his life. There’s a short story about a dog ( and his 0wner)  that I taught to fly. The tale of the spy who came into the flight deck, the  first word I ever spoke and a three legged race at school.

If Bill Bryson had been a pilot this would be his story… though I doubt he ever had the fun of carrying ‘one’ to the mortuary across his rock and boulders. 

Read the first couple of chapters then read from anywhere and if you get bored skip to a more interesting bit. If you can’t find anything more interesting, your only choice is to get a film star’s autobiography and see how many famous people they meet and what interesting lives they have compared with ours. ( BTW Chapter 2 is about me, Brad Pitt and the Queen …honestly!) 





As it says in the opening pages of the book an actor friend suggested that I write about my life as a pilot to soothe the nerves of fearful flyers. It was a project that was easier to start and finish than it was to edit. I’d written over 80,000 words in a few months and I thought I was home and dry. But I edited once, twice, three times in the first month and daily for the following six months. If I’d written a novel it would have been much simpler because things follow in a chronological order. In a simple story someone is born, lives and dies so it’s easy to see where the character is involved, the circumstances before birth and the legacy after death.  In my book I referred to my love of flying in every chapter and by comparison what it’s like to take off in three or four others, being a passenger in a couple of chapters and the conditions required for landing in six others. When my editor tried to make sense of this intoxicated timeline she faced an impossible task.

It was left to me to re-arrange my life as recorded in the manuscript. Several months later it was almost coherent. I read and re-read it dozens of times checking that what I’d said in one chapter wasn’t disputed in another. Did I talk about my first solo in a light plane before I made any mention of becoming an airline pilot?

Eventually, after months of hacking cutting pasting and copying, I ended up with something that was a readable book in the widest and most generous meanings of those two words. But it was fun to write and I didn’t realise I’d had so much fun moving dead bodies, and the connection with cold corned beef sandwiches was something that I’d never realised. I was vain enough to be amused with some of my stories and wasted a lot of time reading them over and over again.

But it wasn’t my intention to write a funny book … it just happened because there was always a funny side to the serious side of flying. And that’s how I ended up with the title, otherwise it may have been called something engaging like ‘An Airline Pilot’s Job’.   

“Although I’m grateful for the recognition, I still wonder why passengers feel the need to applaud on landing … They also applaud when we land in low visibility and, bearing in mind that the pilots or passengers don’t even see the runway at all on some landings, I wonder if the applause is some sort of psychological relief or religious Thanksgiving. It would be nice to think that they are giving credit to the captain in particular, but there is little or no evidence to support this view, except misplaced hope on my part.”

“Pilots and stewardesses: They don’t always marry each other but they often get divorced because of each other.
Plummeting: In fifty years of teaching people to fly I have never taught plummeting, Descending? Yes. Descending quickly, slowly, with power and without power but I have NEVER taught anyone how to plummet! I can’t even spell plumitting consistently. There is no aviation activity connected with plummeting. Forget it! Descending isn’t plummeting.”

“I’ve developed a new attitude to cattle class travel. If I’m flying to America, it’ll take about seven hours. If I’m cramped, I think about being lucky to travel at all. If I’ve got magazines and I’m warm, the prospect of seven hours in a relatively cramped seat is not a problem. After all, there’s been many a rainy day when I’ve sat in an armchair for as long and longer. On election night, I can sit glued to the telly throughout the evening, through the night and most of the analysis the next morning. So, what’s the problem?”






Get your copy from the Kindle store

flying without fear

nothing to lose &
the whole world to gain