Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review: "Flight for Control" by Karlene Petitt

The world in which Karlene Petitt's debut novel, Flight for Control, takes place looks very much like our own. It's a world where the airline industry, an important part of the fabric of society, is operating under severe economic and operational pressure...much like it does in our world, but a little...just a little worse.

It's a world where independent agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) come under the extralegal influence of an increasingly out-of-control Homeland Security complex...to a degree perhaps slightly greater than we see in our world.

And it's a world where good men and women strive ceaselessly against these pressures while seeming never to make progress or see improvement in their personal and professional lives. And where, perhaps, they wind up vulnerable to the schemes of a charismatic and Machiavellian figure who promises drastic action to solve their intractable problems.

The narrative is focused on an ex-NTSB accident investigator who left her career for family-track reasons. But circumstances surrounding a series of airline mishaps draw her back into the fray. As it happens, she is married to an airline Captain who is running for a leadership position in the pilots' union on a confrontational platform – the classic "Man on Horseback." There is, of course, much more to his plans than can be seen on the surface.

The plot hurtles forward, keeping the reader engaged. The author, a pilot who flies Airbus A330's on international routes for a major air carrier, keeps the aviation side of the story "shiny side up" to the gratification of the airplane-savvy reader. The dialog is crisp and the characters well-developed and believable.

(Required caveat: The tale includes several scenes where adult characters do adult things with each other. Probably not what you want to give to your aviation-smitten thirteen-year-old...unless you have a very mature thirteen-year-old.)

I found this book hard to put down (as in, "Hey, it's only 11:30 – one more chapter won't hurt me..."), and it left me looking forward to meeting the protagonist again in a sequel.

In several dimensions, the world of Flight for Control is our world, writ large. The question becomes whether this world is some intriguing alternate reality – or our own future. At the end of the book the author includes some "Questions for Discussion" regarding crew-related challenges that confront the aviation industry. We need viable answers to these, or some aspects of the story may become too real for comfort.


Karlene Petitt said...

Frank, thank you for the outstanding review. Your comments and words are appreciated. We do have a challenge ahead in our industry, and it's up to the new pilots to keep us on course. For anyone who would like an autographed copy, please visit me at Flight to Success: http://tinyurl.com/7xujdrc

Frank Van Haste said...

Karlene, you're welcome.

And for those who need it, a live link to 'Flight to Success'.