Ernest K. Gann

If you are a pilot and you enjoy reading, I hope you have a chance to read some of Ernest K. Gann’s works.  If you want to have a sense of aeronautical history coupled with vicarious learning about flying, you owe it to yourself to read Gann’s novels and nonfiction.

There’s no question pilots regard Gann as a pilot’s pilot.  His flying career spanned more than five decades.  He flew airplanes ranging from the old wood and wire and canvas biplanes of The Great Depression to supersonic jet fighters of the late 20th century.  Gann was a thinking man who led a very interesting life.  For aviators interested in his flying life, read Gann’s aeronautical autobiography, Fate Is The Hunter.

Many professional writers also look upon Gann as being well deserving of inclusion in their ranks.  Gann also worked in television and film, in addition to the print media.  Gann’s book, The Antagonists, served as the basic for the television mini-series, Masada.  Many writers and pilots hold Gann as the aviation writer of the 20th century.  He has an uncanny ability to use words in painting a canvas describing flight as few writers have been able.

If you are going to become any kind of a pilot, you really must read Fate Is The Hunter.  In fact, this book should be required reading for anyone thinking learning how to fly.

Gann is an interesting man.  During his flying career, he literally started flying during the era of the barnstormers in the open cockpit biplanes of the late 1920s and early 1930s.  His romancing as a gypsy pilot ended in the late 30s when American Airlines hired him to fly as a second officer on board DC-2s.  During his time training to fly the DC-2, Gann wrote longingly of the days he spent flying biplanes with his friends hopping $3 passengers from farmer’s fields.

Later as he became a professional airline pilot, Gann wrote about flying the lines throughout the United States.  He very aptly describes various airline routes from the early days of the fledgling industry.  He talks about the transition from DC-2s to DC-3s and what it would mean for the airlines.  Then his writing shifts into his conversion along with many other airline pilots into the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).

While flying for MATS, Gann flew across the Atlantic Ocean many times.  During the flights, he wrote short stories and more.  He also flew The Hump, one flight of which he featured prominently in his book Fate Is The Hunter when he almost accidentally crashed into the Taj Mahal.

From the beginning of Fate Is The Hunter to the end, both flying and non-flying readers alike will enjoy and learn from Gann’s aviation exploits.

Besides writing his aeronautical autobiography in Fate Is The Hunter, Gann also wrote his complete autobiography in A Hostage To Fortune.  As with his aeronautical autobiography, A Hostage To Fortune is a fascinating, non-stop read.  Although primarily working as a pilot and a writer, Gann talks about all of the other jobs he held in his lifetime.  He worked as a cook, a sailor, and a writer, as well as surprisingly, a spy.  Like Fate Is The Hunter, A Hostage To Fortune is a very interesting book.  It is one of those once started, very hard to put down.

For more information on the author, click on Ernest K. Gann.

Here are a few of his other aviation titles:

Island in the Sky, 1944

Blaze of Noon, 1946

Benjamin Lawless, 1948

The High and the Mighty, 1952

Soldier of Fortune, 1954

Fate is the Hunter, 1961

In the Company of Eagles, 1966

Band of Brothers, 1973

Ernest K Gann’s Flying Circus, 1974

The Aviator, 1981

Gentlemen of Adventure, 1983

The Black Watch: The Men Who Fly America’s Secret Spy Planes, 1989


© 2010 J. Clark

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