A British Airways 747 captain takes you into the cockpit with new book

The New York Times has a preview of a new book written by a British Airways captain. Photo: New York Times.

The New York Times has a preview of a new book written by a British Airways captain. Photo: New York Times.

What's it like in the cockpit of a Boeing 747?

The New York Times has a fascinating first-person piece written by a major airline captain, who takes readers through flight, from takeoff to landing. Along the way, British Airways Capt. Mark Vanhoenacker shares interesting information about what it takes to plan a long route.

The New York Times selection comes from Vanhoenacker's new book called Skyfaring, which will be published by Alfred A. Knopf and comes out on Tuesday, June 2nd.

Here's one particularly interesting section from the Times preview:

If you asked me where we are right now, seven or so hours into our flight, I would say we are in the sky country called Irkutsk. More specifically, we are approaching INTAK.

INTAK is a waypoint. An airplane typically navigates through sky countries along a route composed of a few radio beacons and many waypoints. Waypoints are defined by coordinates or their bearing and distance from a beacon, and by a name, which typically takes the form of a five-letter capitalized word — EVUKI, JETSA, SABER — that’s pronounceable and distinct to controllers and pilots regardless of their first language. Waypoint names are the sky’s audible currency of place, atomized and distinct.

Judging by the advanced reviews and blurbs, Skyfaring will be a good read. We see a lot of tell-all books by airline pilots, but few are recommended by literary titans.

These are just some of the heavy hitters who suggest reading Skyfaring:

  • Pico Iyer 
  • Alain de Botton
  • James Fallows
  • The Economist
  • Bill Prince, GQ

Want more on the book? Check out its website