Patrick Smith and Sourcebooks are proud to announce publication of Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections.
“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, this 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.
Patrick Smith has been called the thinking man’s pilot. For the better part of a decade, his Ask the Pilot column at Salon.com was a singular and remarkable sensation: an aviation column, for heaven’s sake, that could offer up trenchant analysis of an air disaster one day, then the next day stride fearlessly into politics, culture, or even rock music, and somehow tie it all together. Cockpit Confidential features the best of that material, refreshed and adapted into a seven-chapter volume of FAQs, essays and personal memoir. Whether it’s the nuts and bolts of cockpit operation or a hilarious critique of airline logos and color schemes, Cockpit Confidential is 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, hes 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
“Cockpit Confidential is the document that belongs in the seat pocket in front of you.”
– David Pogue, New York Times correspondent and television host.
Available at booksellers everywhere…
IN THE U.S.
IN THE U.K. AND IRELAND
Through Christmas, autographed copies are available directly from the author at the special sale price of only $20.00, including shipping. Have your copy customized with Patrick Smith’s special blue autograph Sharpie, his name rendered in splendorous non-legible scrawl!
Now, as for that title, Cockpit Confidential….
Okay, okay , it’s cheap and derivative. But it wasn’t my idea.
All right, fine, it was my idea. Or, more specifically, it was a collaborative decision between me, my agent and the publisher. It’s a touch misleading, as the book isn’t the least bit scandalous, but I like the sound of it — the alliterative quality.
I can feel better knowing that I have Anthony Bourdain’s blessings, sort of, having ripped off his famous Kitchen Confidential. He was a passenger on one of my flights a year or so ago. I introduced myself and told him about my plans for a title. He laughed.
The big challenge in the meantime is getting the title some exposure at airports. As was the case with Ask the Pilot nine years ago, getting airport retailers to stock the book has been very difficult. I long ago lost count of the number of people who, when I was working on the manuscript, said to me, “What a great idea; this will be for sale at every airport in the country.” As it happens, the book can be found only in only limited number of terminals. My gratitude to Hudson News (see purchase links below) and BookLink for carrying it, but almost all other companies have been uncooperative. HMS Host, for example, which operates in over a hundred terminals worldwide under a variety of names (“Simply Books” is one of them), has shown no interest whatsoever.
If that strikes you as a poor business decision, I couldn’t agree more, as would most reasonable people. This was a book written primarily for frequent flyers, and if there’s a more opportune selling point than the airport, for heck’s sake, I’d like to hear it. Talk about a captive audience. Could there be a more ideal airport impulse buy?
I’ve gone into several outlets and spoke to the managers. In almost all of these stores the on-site staff have virtually no control over which titles are stocked. It all comes from the corporate level, and getting your book onto their shortlist of approved titles is very difficult (unless your publisher is willing to spend lavishly on a promotion). That your book is for and about the airport makes no difference.
Meanwhile, you get your pick of the latest sports biographies, Suze Orman, and the usual assortment of thrillers. The other day at the airport in Detroit, I stopped by a store that was hawking the autobiography of Mike Piazza and, get ready now, the new “Mother-Daughter Love Story” by Carol Burnett. I can’t get Cockpit Confidential in the store, but there are plenty of big heavy hardcovers from a retired ballplayer and an 80 year-old comedian.
My thanks to Hudson Booksellers for being the biggest of the airport vendors actively promoting the book. If you’re among those readers who prefers not to patronize Amazon, and you won’t be passing through any airports, please consider ordering through Hudson directly…
Homepage photo by Brendan Koerner: Portland International Airport (PDX). All other photos by Patrick Smith.