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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
Winging It! The True Story of How a Passenger Landed an Airplane by Gregory Harris is an illustrated account of an emergency landing in 2013 at Humberside, England. Three men, two of whom were pilots, planned a day trip using a Cessna from their flying club. One pilot canceled at the last minute. The other pilot passed away in the cockpit on the way back. That left 77-year-old John Wildey trying to land an airplane from the passenger seat in complete darkness with no instruments and only a 30% chance of survival. Harris also provides references and links to a web page with more details, a “where are they now” section for John and the people who helped him, and information on the Cessna aircraft.
In Winging It! Harris gives us an engagingly-written “blow-by-blow” description of a dramatic emergency landing including the dialog with the air traffic controller, flight instructors, and the pilot and crew of an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter who led Wildey through three failed landing attempts before the fourth successful one. In these snippets, you can feel the professionalism of the responders and the “grit” of the man. Wildey was known for humorous quips and he faced this trauma in good form. “I’d have given a million for a drink,” he said, once he was safe on the ground. “I was a bit shaken. Not stirred, just shaken.” The illustrations are excellent additions that give the reader a better understanding of the places and people as well as the technical issues involved. A compelling story that can inspire us all.