Sunday Times Besteller. Think back to when you first flew. When you first left the Earth, and travelled high and fast above its turning arc. When you looked down on a new world, captured simply and perfectly through a window fringed with ice. In Skyfaring, airline pilot and flight romantic Mark Vanhoenacker shares his irrepressible love of flying, on a journey from day to night, from new ways of mapmaking and the poetry of physics to the names of winds and the nature of clouds. Here is the simple wonder that remains at the heart of an experience which modern travellers all too easily take for granted: the transcendent joy of motion, and the remarkable new perspectives that height and distance bestow on everything we love. "Mark Vanhoenacker has written the ideal book: a description of what it's like to fly by a commercial pilot who is also a master prose stylist and a deeply sensitive human being. This is a man who is at once a technical expert - he flies 747s across continents - and a poet of the skies. This couldn't be more highly recommended". (Alain de Botton).
'Flight, like any great love, is both a liberation and a return': an airline pilot captures the wonder of flight for the modern traveller
Shortlisted for Warwick Prize for Writing 2015.
"Vanhoenacker is a remarkable writer. In Skyfaring he reveals his passion for flight, the mechanics of planes, the weightless, meaningful geography of the skies and the scent of the cities he flies to. He creates a still, almost poetic point in the turning, travelling world. This mesmerising book will make you view the world differently. All aboard!" -- Helen Davies Sunday Times "[An] ode to the wonder of flight in the tradition of the great pioneer pilot-author Antoine de Saint Exupery and Charles Lindbergh... flying remains a magical business" -- Charles Bremner The Times "Mr Vanhoenacker, fortunately for his readers, has lost none of his sense of wonder at the miracle of flight itself... a beautifully observed collection of details, scenes, emotions and facts from the world above the world" The Economist "Mr Vanhoenacker, fortunately for his readers, has lost none of his sense of wonder at the miracle of flight itself... a beautifully observed collection of details, scenes, emotions and facts from the world above the world" The Economist "A description of what it's like to fly by a commercial pilot who is also a master prose stylist... This is a man who is at once a technical expert - he flies 747s across continents - and a poet of the skies. This couldn't be more highly recommended" -- Alain de Botton "A beauty. For so many flying has become humdrum: a bus journey to be endured then forgotten, not enjoyed and recalled. Vanhoenacker makes it wondrous again." -- David Sexton Evening Standard "Beautifully... simply put. Vanhoenacker's prose has a functional eloquence that carries the reader along for the ride." -- Geoff Dyer The Guardian "Reminds us of the magic of aviation... full of information that is wonderful in its simplicity" -- Erica Wagner The New Statesman "[An] endlessly surprising, strikingly original book... combines intelligence and sensitivity with an "outward-looking introspection" Intelligent Life "Not since Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic Vol de Nuit...has there been such a fantastic book about flying... Skyfaring takes the genre to a whole new level. I found myself turning over the corners of almost every page with excitement and admiration" -- Giles Foden Conde Nast Traveller
Mark Vanhoenacker left academia to work as a management consultant, a position that afforded him regular opportunities to stare out of aeroplane windows and recall childhood dreams of becoming a pilot. He began his flight training in 2001. Today, as a Senior First Officer for British Airways, Mark flies Boeing 747s to major cities around the world. He is also a regular contributor to the New York Times and Slate. When his head is not in the clouds, he divides his time between London and New York.