COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL Now a New York Times Besteller!


October 23, 2014

Patrick Smith and Sourcebooks are proud to announce that COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AIR TRAVEL is now an official New York Times bestseller. Special thanks to my readers and fans who helped make this happen.

All right, so it’s not quite as exciting as it sounds: the Times’ nonfiction rankings are now broken down among multiple categories, one of which is Travel. Still it gets me one of those fancy “New York Times Bestseller” blurbs on the cover. And chicks dig it too.

Book Cover With Bestseller Credit

“Brilliant is the word that applies. A book to be savored and passed to friends.”
— William Langeweische, Vanity Fair

A wry, thoughtful, and at times provocative look into the confounding world of commercial air travel, COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL is the ideal take-along for frequent flyers, nervous passengers, world travelers, and anybody yearning for an enlightened, behind-the-scenes look at the strange and misunderstood business of commercial aviation. More than just a book about flying, its subject is everything and everything about the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to terrorism to the colors and cultures of the world’s airlines. It’s smart, funny, and brimming with useful information.

“Nobody covers the airline experience like Patrick Smith. He brings balance and clarity to a subject all too often over-hyped. And, he’s a damned good writer.”
— Clive Irving, Condé Nast Traveler

• How planes fly, and a revealing look at the men and women who fly them
• Straight talk on turbulence, pilot training, and safety
• The real story on congestion, delays, and the dysfunction of the modern airport
• The myths and misconceptions of cabin air and cockpit automation
• Terrorism in perspective and a candid look at security
• Airfares, seating woes, and the pitfalls of airline customer service
• The colors and cultures of the airlines we love to hate
• The yin and yang of global travel
• Gratuitous references to 80s-era indie rock bands

“The document that belongs in the seat pocket in front of you.”
— David Pogue

But what’s this? Rumors are circulating that not all of you have purchased a copy. I won’t name names, but you can put an end to your secret shame by clicking on one of the purchase links below. There are ordering options for America, Canada, the UK, Australia and India. If you’re a fan of my writing and want to help support what I do, please consider picking up a copy. I make very little income from this website and I rely on book royalties to augment the out-of-pocket costs that keep the site running. Plus, it’s a fun read.

Available at booksellers everywhere…













At the airport, look for COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL at participating
Hudson Booksellers locations.

Book at MDW

Book with Passport (wide version)



The purchase links above include a link to the audiobook version available on iTunes. You can also buy it through Amazon and some other sources. You should know, however, how disappointed I am in the quality of this product.

I had, until recently, never heard even a snippet of the audiobook. All along I’d been worried the narrator had done a poor job with it, and out of fear I refused to listen. I’d had no input in the making or production of the audiobook. All I knew for sure, because it said so on the package, is that the book was read aloud by a guy named Dave Drummond. Who knew what Drummond sounded like? Rather than stress about it, I ignored it.

Well, I finally heard him for the first time. I was staying at a friend’s place near San Francisco not long ago, and he took the liberty of playing a sample for me. I protested, but he insisted. “I think you need to hear this,” he said, ominously.

He was both very right and very wrong.

Mike hit PLAY and the voice of Dave Drummond, speaking as me, filled the room. My first reaction was shock. Was this a joke? My second reaction was to resist all temptation to go and stick my head in the oven. I sat quietly as my blood went cold and the air left my lungs, looking plaintively at Mike, who was doing his best to stifle laughter.

I’m sure Dave Drummond is a swell and upstanding guy. Indeed he has a respectable “radio voice,” as they say, and there are tons of books he’d be a good reader for. But as far as my book goes, they could not in a million years have picked a worse person.

Drummond speaks in an austere, barking sort of drawl that isn’t the least bit reflective of the book’s style or content. He smothers out all of its humor and steamrolls over its energy and verve. Go hear it for yourself. Pull up the audiobook on Amazon and you can hear Drummond murdering the introduction to chapter one. This sample is supposed to encourage people to buy the thing? He sounds like a guy narrating a Korean War documentary.

The book is funny and eccentric. There are numerous music and pop-culture references, etc. The person narrating it should sound authoritative and smart, sure, but he also needs to sound younger. It should be somebody with an ironic sense of humor, and the type of person who can say the names “Joe Strummer” or “Husker Du” (chapters one and four), without making them sound surreal. Drummond is crotchety and overbearing, and the result is embarrassing both for him and, especially, for me.
The book isn’t solely informational. Parts of it are very personal, and the narrator is supposed to be a stand-in for me. I should hear myself in his voice. Instead, I hear Walter Cronkite’s constipated uncle.

You know how people sometimes say that they “feel violated”? Now I understand what that means. I won’t tell you not to buy it, but when you hear it, that isn’t me talking.


Back to the Ask the Pilot Home Page Visit the Blog Archive Back to Top!

Leave a Comment

Maximum 1500 characters. Watch your spelling and grammar. Poorly written posts will be deleted!

18 Responses to “COCKPIT CONFIDENTIAL Now a New York Times Besteller!”
You are viewing newest comments first. Click to reverse order
  1. Laying Over says:

    […] A SEGMENT in Cockpit Confidential where I reminisce about layovers. I talk about different cities, different hotels, the sometimes […]

  2. […] will sometimes load meals designated specifically for the crew, said Patrick Smith, a pilot and author of Cockpit […]

  3. […] will sometimes load meals designated specifically for the crew, said Patrick Smith, a pilot and author of Cockpit […]

  4. runway says:

    […] Patrick Smith is an airline pilot and the host of  He is also the author of the New York Times best selling book “Cockpit Confidential.” […]

  5. […] to Patrick Smith, author of the book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections, it’s speed […]

  6. […] to Patrick Smith, author of the book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections, it’s […]

  7. […] to Patrick Smith, author of the book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections, it’s speed […]

  8. […] to Patrick Smith, author of the book Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections, it’s […]

  9. […] At the top of the list, shamelessly and predictably enough, is my own book. Now a New York Times bestseller, Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers & Reflections is the ideal stocking-stuffer for the frequent flyer, nervous passenger or world traveler on your gift list. It’s informative, thoughtful and funny; seven addictive chapters of FAQ, informational essays, rants and memoir, covering everything from the nuts-and-bolts of flying to airline customer service to the yin and yang of global travel. The perfect take-along for your next flight. He said, modestly. Click the photo and you’ll be taken to the book’s Amazon page. For more info and additional ordering links, including options for the U.K, Canada, Australia and India, click HERE. […]

  10. Audiobook Listener says:

    For what it’s worth: I’ve listened to the audiobook version and, indeed, this is how I’ve gotten to know your writing and I’ve started reading your column/blog only after (I was hoping for more frequent updates, btw., but that’s not the point now).
    While I do agree that the voice never quite seemed to fit the writing (as an audiobook connoisseur, I’d say this is a well below average reading), I still thoroughly enjoyed the book — and this is how I became a reader of your column. So perhaps it’s not all bad.

  11. JohnLM says:

    Congrats Patrick

    I wish I could read it new again for the first time I enjoyed it so much. I read it over the last Xmas holiday in typical Americans fashion, next to the Christmas tree and fireplace.

    Reading your book vs. say Hard Landing helped me refine what really interests me about aviation. I love hearing about all the aspects that surround day to day operations and the planes that serve them rather then the bureaucratic history of old rich white men who run airlines as important as it may be.

  12. […] is a segment in my book about this, and in the questions-and-answers section of this website too. The air on planes is […]

  13. Filippo says:

    I’m reading the book in english, do you have any plan fr an italian translation?

  14. Julia says:

    I bought the Kindle version and absolutely loved it!

  15. Jon says:

    Hey I bought your book a couple of years ago. When are you going to write a new one?

    • Jon says:

      I do apologize, you are quite right. It does seem like it was two years ago – when I bought it, I couldn’t put it down and read it from cover to cover. What I should have said, is, your first book was so good that if you write another one I will buy it straight away.

  16. JuliaZ says:

    Congrats on making the Bestsellers list… you deserve it. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon before it even hit the shelves and enjoyed it right away. I have recommended it to several folks on various flights after they recovered from white-knuckle (for them) turbulence.

  17. Kristina says:

    You’re very welcome! 😉 My copy arrived last week… looking forward to reading it!