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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Pacific on the Right: Two Pilots, One Airplane, A Lifetime of Memories by Anne Pierce is the story of the author’s son’s epic journey, by small plane, from Phoenix, Arizona, to Chile, towards the turn of last century, compiled principally from the son’s journal. Curt Pierce was a young American whose dream was to fly big commercial jets. To fulfill his dream, he found ways to increase his knowledge, experience, and flying hours by spending all his free time instructing learner pilots how to fly. One of his students, a successful businessman from Chile, Miguel, tells Curt that he plans to buy a brand-new Cessna aircraft and he wants to fly it from the factory in America to Santiago, Chile - a staggering almost 7,000-mile trip for an aircraft with a flight range of only a few hundred miles, between fuel fills. Accepting his own flying inexperience, Miguel asks Curt to accompany him on the flight and experience an adventure along the way. Having never left the shores of the United States, Curt sees the opportunity to fly across some of the most beautiful countries in the world as well as visiting many of them, when they stop for fuel and rest, and he grasps it with both hands. So begins this epic journey through eleven countries for two modern-day adventurers, who will experience life, bureaucracy, danger, threats, and differing customs, unlike anything certainly Curt has ever experienced in the good ole US of A.
Pacific on the Right reminds you that even in this sanitized and regulated world, there is still excitement and adventure to be had if you’re prepared to look for it. I found the relationship between the wealthy, urbane, and sophisticated businessman Miguel with his young and unworldly instructor Curt to be one of the real highlights of the story. Clearly, in almost all facets of life, Miguel was more experienced and more practiced than his mentor Curt, except in the one area that really mattered on this trip; flying. That they had such a great relationship on the three-week trip and a friendship that continues to this day speaks volumes of both men’s maturity and level-headedness. I was particularly able to identify with Curt’s frustrations at his poor Spanish. As an English speaker myself who does not speak the language of my adopted country, I often found myself nodding my head knowingly in this narrative. Perhaps the absolute highlight for me was the final chapters where Curt explains some of his life’s philosophies, which dovetail well with my own. These went a long way to explaining why this trip, which could have been potentially awful and disastrous, actually went so swimmingly well, despite the barriers thrown up in front of this pair. I really enjoyed this book and can highly recommend it.