Book Review: This is Your Captain Speaking

This Is Your Captain Speaking: Reaching for the Sky Despite a Lifetime of Abuse, Depression and Fear by Courtney Schoch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Wow. That’s what I kept thinking as I read this book. Wow. What an amazing, disheartening, brutal, dangerous, and finally heartwarming life. Why the last adjective, ‘heartwarming’? Because the author, for all her dark background, her immersion in negative family dynamics, the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, her own extremely poor judgment growing up, and her basement-level self-esteem at one point while trying to escape her past, she emerged somehow as a successful, compelling person. Despite the book’s seamy and sordid details, the author’s descriptions of the sleazy, crude, lying, and violent men she fell in with—some of whom she married—she comes out the other side, as a pilot no less, and an inspiring voice to others.


Aircraft autopilots operate on the concept of error signals. What that means is, once the pilot sets a course, the autopilot makes that course equal zero. Any deviation from the course due to turbulence, or high winds, or any disturbance, the autopilot detects the error signal, and returns the aircraft to the zero point, the course the pilot chose. Reading this, I hoped the author would heed her own error signals, and adjust the course of her life.


Three stars only because I wanted much more about her journey to the cockpit, her acquisition of flying skills, her navigation of the airline hiring process, and the ways she gained flight time and certifications. We heard very little of that journey. So this reader/reviewer’s reaction, especially as a pilot myself, was to wonder why the book’s cover, its title, and its overall pitch don’t match the contents? It takes a lot of courage to write a memoir, especially one like this, so the author is indeed brave and resourceful. I wanted to see her pull out of her dive toward the ground, and finally she did.This Is Your Captain Speaking: Reaching for the Sky Despite a Lifetime of Abuse, Depression and Fear




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