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Flight of Passage: A True Story


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ISBN 10: 0786883154
368 pages

In the Summer of 1966, Rinker and Kernahan Buck, two schoolboys from New Jersey, bought a dilapidated Piper Cub for $300, rebuilt it in their barn, and took off on the journey of a lifetime — a daring flight across the Rockies to California. They became the youngest aviators on record to fly America coast to coast, and their thirst for adventure, and the simple audacity of their trip, mirrored the innocence of the times. Because they couldn’t afford one, they navigated all the way to California without a radio.

The critically acclaimed Flight of Passage is also a timeless story of fathers and sons. The Buck brothers retraced a mythical route West flown by their father, Tom Buck, a brash, colorful ex-barnstormer who had lost his leg in a tragic air crash, but who so loved the romance of flight that he taught his boys to fly before they could drive. Now, winging it out across the deserts and the mountains, the brothers must separate from this difficult, quirky man. Yet Flight of Passage goes beyond two young men in search of themselves and their country. It is a narrative about the eternal enigma of family, of freedom won at the cost of pain and truth, told with a storytelling power that is both brave and rare.


“My favorite book of the year . . . It reaches beyond its personal story to deal with the terrible beauty of families and with the larger world . . .” –Bob Minzenheimer, USA Today

“A gripping adventure story . . . Buck successfully combines details of this flight with a chronicle of the family interaction that inspired the trip. This coming-of-age memoir, replete with colorful anecdotes about open-cockpit planes and their pilots, is a treasure to read.” —Publishers Weekly

“Rinker Buck’s Flight of Passage is an utterly captivating true-adventure tale and at the same time a winsomely told memoir of a teenager coming to terms with members of his family. I found it absolutely irresistible.” –John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

“This is a funny, cocky gem of a book.” —The New Yorker

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Buy the Book

Flight of Passage: A True Story