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Publisher's Summary

For millions of people, travel by air is a confounding, uncomfortable, and even fearful experience. Patrick Smith, airline pilot and author of the web's popular "Ask the Pilot" feature, separates fact from fallacy and tells you everything you need to know:

  • 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 provocative look at security
  • Airfares, seating woes, and the pitfalls of airline customer service

Cockpit Confidential covers not only the nuts and bolts of flying but also the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to inflight service to the excitement of travel abroad. It's a thoughtful, funny, at times deeply personal look into the strange and misunderstood world of commercial flying.

©2013 Patrick Smith (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Smith paints an unflinching portrait of modern air travel with several fresh and unexpected insights." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A good premise

Like rubbing a cheese grater across a sunburn, in which you gradually extract a few flakes of gold. And resembling more a collection of notes for a book, than an actual polished final product.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Interesting

What made the experience of listening to Cockpit Confidential the most enjoyable?

Great insight from a seasoned pro

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

It gets a little tedious at times, like when he lists historic events. But many readers will appreciate this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A lot more opinion than information.

More one man's thoughts and perspectives on air travel, rather than lots of juicy and revealing facts and information as the title and blurb suggest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Kudos From one Aviation Professional to Another

I have been in aviation in one capacity or another for over 30 years. While not a pilot, rather I fly a desk, I know quite a bit about this wonderful industry. I purchased this book as I enjoy anything and everything there is to know about airlines and airplanes. The author and narrator truly made this a great read/listen.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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For the skeptical flyer!

I fly enough to appreciate that air travel is not always predictable or convenient. I also work for a large tier 1 supplier in the industry and know first hand that there is no industry that takes safety more seriously.
This book gives the listener an insiders view of airplane and airline operations in a very accessible style. The performance is quite engaging and clearly spoken.
For a skeptical non-flyer, I would highly recommend this audio book the for the next 8 hour drive...that you could have flown.

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Must Read

Great read for folks interested In commercial aviation. Great Job Patrick. Looking forward to edition #2.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Bored within an hour

I love to travel and hoped to learn some interesting information. The book put me to sleep every time.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DougW
  • Cypress, TX, USA
  • 07-26-16

Informative and Interesting

If you are looking for a high level fly by of the modern air travel industry this is your book. The author walks through everything from aircraft safely to crew career expectations and what causes delays in a great Q&A format. I suspect the format somewhat follows the author's blog.

Narration was excellent.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Just go read the blog

There is not much in this book that is not already available in his blog or the recent Freakonomics Podcast interview. I am sure that the interview will send people here. Not much new.

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  • danieltharris
  • 10-20-16

Great high level overview of air travel

What did you like most about Cockpit Confidential?

I liked the relaxed approach of the book. Some reviewers have said it feels more like a set of notes than a book but I actually think this is a great strength of the book in general. It's presented in parts as questions and answers which I really liked.

There are other parts that take more of a traditional book approach where a story is being told, but mostly answering numerous questions. Most of them things I've wondered about and some of them interesting questions I never thought to ask.

I listened to the book before reading the author's blog in detail, and I can see why some are saying a lot of the content is already there, but this is a great way to consume the content and you can listen whilst driving to work etc. so definitely worth a purchase rather than sifting through multiple individual blog posts.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Cockpit Confidential?

I really love the answers that talk about the mindset of the pilots and how they adapt and react to various situations. There is a part where he mentions a flight that was stuck in a holding pattern above LAX (I think) and he describes how the media portrayed the event v.s what was actually happening and the reasons for it. You really do see how the media reports on things that they don't really know anything about.

There are a few sections like this throughout the book and they are very interesting. Also passenger rather than media misconceptions. Things like how much a plane is actually moving during turbulence.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As I've gotten older I've became more of a nervous air passenger and although the book is NOT intended as a sort of self-help book (I'm not so bad to need one specifically for that tbh) but it does put your mind to ease by answering questions you've probably thought about many times when on a plane.

Any additional comments?

I really like the author's passion for aviation in general and although the stories of days gone by may not be interesting to everybody I soon became engrossed in these sections despite thinking I wouldn't enjoy them much.

I think it does go a long way to help you appreciate how cheap air travel really is these days and how lucky we are. I liked hearing about the golden age of air travel and it really got my imagination going thinking how amazing it would have been back then to go on your first flight - We really take it for granted these days.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • deb kelly
  • 05-02-17

It's good. like Really Good

Super duper dooo! I love airplanes and I can also tell the difference between the 727-100 and the 727-200. One problem: the A380 is not ugly.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • muttley
  • 03-07-17

Excellent, fact-packed book.

I chose this title after enjoying;

"Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot" by Mark Vanhoenacker (highly recommended!).

Cockpit Confidential has so much information packed into it.
I can't think of anything the author hasn't covered.
For anyone interested in commercial aviation, this book is for them.

Patrick Smith is clearly a Boeing fan.
This is clear when he compares the 747 with the Airbus A380.
Having flown several times on both aircraft types, I much prefer the A380!
They are both wonders of engineering however.

The narrator, Charlie Thurston does a great job too, making this a very enjoyable audio book.

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  • Geoffrey French
  • 03-04-17

Great interesting book.<br />

Great fantastic book interesting helps with fear of flying and clears up the miss understood airline industry

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-18

Great insight into aviation industry

Patrick has a vast experience in the airline business and share with us in this book. Small details such as airlines logo, airport taxes, seat design are discussed in great length which is a very interesting listen for an aviation enthusiast.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-14-17

Good general overview of the commercial aviation industry

Good general overview of the industry for travellers. I suspect the lack of technical detail will leave a few aeroplane enthusiasts wanting more.