Review of American Sky

American Sky is no ordinary book about flying; it’s as much about the people who populated Fred Tribuzzo’s world of aviation, good and bad, as it is about flight. This is something I can relate to powerfully; after many years of thinking it was just the aeroplanes that I wanted to be around, I discovered that it was actually the people who were part of this world that I enjoyed spending time with. We were all very different, but it was our mutual enthusiasm for aviation which bound us together.

I’ve never heard author Tribuzzo play – he’s a musician also – but I can imagine how he’d play. When I read his words I can feel the deft and gentle but precise way he must handle the instrument or the controls of an aircraft: he writes the way I’m sure he flies and plays.

Tribuzzo is another of the post-WWII generation whose family members fought the war who grew up obsessed with the freedom offered by the bell curve of the sky, not Big Sky Country, but in the closer skies of Ohio. Unlike most of us however, he was twenty-six before he made the dream a reality.

Initially the chapters don’t appear to have any particular connection with each other, but as you delve deeper, the loose connections appear. This is the story of a man whose association with flying is deep and deeply thought out, a man who knows that it’s best to have some dreams unfulfilled, and a man who knows that the best time to walk away is when the experience is at its peak.

I’m not impressed with Tribuzzo’s confessions of his student days as an anti-Vietnam war protester – I was on the other side of the fence, fighting the war as a draftee while he was fighting Uncle Sam – but at least he has the grace to admit to feeling guilty about it today.

All pilots have to work an apprenticeship and Tribuzzo’s was flying the Bank run, bringing bags of cheques from country branches to the major city for processing, flying solo in a range of light twins in all weathers; some pilots graduated to the airlines, some were defeated by the hours, the coffee, the bad food, the cigarettes and flew higher. This was the eighties, before computers were all linked through the internet and when gaslight was still King.

The story meanders along like a stream in the woods and mountains he writes about; this is no broad river flowing swiftly to the sea but takes its time to visit the byways and the characters who inhabit them, even though his career travels upwards from Comanches to Citations and a BBJ.

Tribuzzo’s writing at its best reminds me of Ernest K Gann or Antoine de Saint-Exupery, pilot-authors of lyrical books on flight and flying; their influence is palpable.

American Sky: Good Landings and Other Adventuresis published by Koehler Books and available through Barnes and Noble or Amazon. More information on the author is available at

0 0 votes
Article Rating