Pilots like to say that every safe landing is really just a controlled crash. In this witty and entertaining memoir of his airline career, Eldon Brown whisks us back to the heyday of the airline industry, when it was fun to fly and salesmanship was a creative art. During his decades in cargo management with airlines like Japan and Northwest, Brown crosses paths with a surprising array of life forms: wily entrepreneurs, stowaway cockroaches, and, yes, a drunken bear.
Along the way, there are challenges to be met with pluck and imagination. For example, he conducts reconnaissance missions (when his 007 persona springs to the fore). He arranges flights for fauna like eels, ostriches, tuna, and the Dallas Cowboys. He also has to learn to accommodate his relaxed American style to the rigidity of a Japanese managerial culture, to stay true to American values in places where less rigorous ethical standards are the norm, and to deal with such worrisome passengers as a tipsy senator, Dr. Timothy Leary, and an escaped mental patient.
Through it all, Brown's common sense and sly humor prevail, making this book a fine and fun read.