I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
Author Alex Stone takes readers on a hilarious, dark and unexpected ride through the world of aviation and in particular “freight dogs” as they are known in his novel, “Hauling Checks”. Here is the synopsis.
I’m a cargo pilot. In the industry, I’m known as a “Freight Dog.” I fly canceled checks and other types of high-value cargo around the country, mostly at night, in airplanes that are older than I am. Flying freight-or “work” as we call it-in small, twin-engine aircraft is a lesser known side of the aviation world. Our day starts when banker’s hours end. Thousands of flights move millions of pounds of work from city to city every night while the rest of the country is asleep. We’re out there in the freezing rain getting de-iced when you’re laying down for bed. We’re sweeping the snow off our wings with a broom at three in the morning. That horrible thunderstorm you heard last night while you were sleeping, we were flying through it. The fog you woke up to in the early morning hours, we were landing in it.
Hauling Checks is a comedy about the darker side of aviation. A cast of degenerate pilots, who work for a shady night time air cargo operation, take you on a flight through the unfriendly skies. The pilots abuse every Reg in the book in their quest to make deadlines for their high value cargo. As the company falls on hard times, management resorts to questionable measures to save the failing airline.Get 10% Off Hundreds of Vinyl Albums
This was one of the more unique, creative and funny books I’ve read in 2018. The author’s experience as a pilot blended well into the fictional story being told, bringing with it a sense of adventure and realness that other fictional stories don’t always have. The cast of characters are not only flawed, but some of them are downright despicable or clueless. Yet despite their flaws the humor shines through the entire book, because they represent the flawed and painful encounters so many people have throughout their lives. It was like a blend of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Seinfeld within a cargo flight setting.
The imagery throughout was incredibly vivid, bringing a sense of both familiarity and realness to these out of control situations the pilots and crew found themselves in. From drunken tales of debauchery from a useless co pilot to the fictional tales of a woman’s husband who may or may not be real, to the arial acrobatics some of the pilots take (literally) when faced with a crumbling company, this book had it all.
This is a must read novel for anyone who is a fan of fictional comedy novels, aviation and hilarious yet mind-numbing characters. The book was fantastic and well written, and the author brought a sense of experience to the novel that made it feel even more real. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Alex Stone’s novel “Hauling Checks” today.
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Alex Stone grew up in Munster, Indiana. He’s been flying since age fourteen and received a Bachelors Degree in Aviation Science from Western Michigan University. He has worked as a flight instructor and was a “Freight Dog” in the air cargo industry for seven years. This is his first novel.
I glanced out the side window as I struggled to stay awake. Suddenly, something caught my attention that instantly woke me up. There was oil running out of the left engine. Not just a small leak like there always was. This was a steady flow that trailed down the top of the engine cowling and off the back of the wing.
“Wake up!” I said to The Co. “We’ve got a problem.”
“That’s fine,” The Co mumbled in his sleep, “you can take care of it.”
I quickly scanned the gauges for the left engine and found that the oil pressure was dropping, and the oil temperature was rising. This confirmed that we were losing a large quantity of oil quickly. There was no way of knowing how much we had lost already, but judging from the extremely low oil pressure, it wouldn’t be long before the engine quit.
The proper procedure in this circumstance is to shut down the left engine. If it lost all of its oil, the engine would seize up, destroying itself. By shutting it down prior to that happening, the engine could be saved, the oil leak could be repaired, and the engine reused.
I’d had enough for one day though. I was pretty disgruntled at this point and decided that I didn’t care if the engine was destroyed.
“Let them pay for a new engine,” I growled. “That’ll teach them.”
I left the doomed engine at weekend power*; I figured I’d just run the hell out of it till it blew up. This kind of abuse of the engines, which happened on a daily basis, was a big part of the reason the planes had so many problems in the first place. That, combined with the lack of proper maintenance, of course. But when a company constantly treated you this poorly, it became hard to care about taking care of their airplanes.
* – Weekend power means full throttle even if that takes the engines over redline. This may result in airspeed exceeding the maximum speed for the airplane, which would set off a warning horn. If that happens, you just pull the circuit breaker for the warning horn, disabling it. This would allow you to overspeed the airplane without the annoyance of that pesky horn.
Weekend power got its name because no one wants to fly on the weekend, so, if you have to, you fly full power, getting the flight over with as fast a possible so you can go home. Some pilots have also used the terms “Horn Fridays,” and “Overspeed Sundays.”
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