Born to Run for Hang Gliders, August 3, 2013
I picked this book up at the Blue Horizons Thrift Store in Saguache Colorado. The proprietor claimed that Erik had “sat right over there and wrote it”. I figured what the hell I’ll help promote a local amateur writer. And I’ve always been curious about hang gliding off Mount Princeton ever since I saw some launch from there 25 years ago or so while I was backpacking. The book sat on my night stand untouched for weeks along with seven other partially read books that I’m working on. Finally I opened it; now I have seven partially read books on my night stand and one that I will read again. The style and prose is immaterial. It’s raw transcendent inspiration that surely came from the sky. Thanks for writing Erik.
I expected “Eagles in the Flesh” to be a book about hang gliding, a book that I might find interesting simply because of my love for the sport. But it only took a few pages to learn it was so much more. It is a book about life – about how to live and about how not to live. It is a book about sudden death. Although hang gliding is the dominating pillar, the author takes you on a no-holds-barred thrill ride through the exploits of a small group of zealot competition hang glider pilots and their pedal-to-the-metal full afterburner race through life both in the air and on the ground. It is an amazing story, both thrilling and poignant.
One of things that impressed me the most was the rookie author’s use of colorful metaphors that never seemed forced and made the incredible story even more vibrant. “Eagles in the Flesh” was a great read reminiscent of a rocket flight – push the start button, hang on, and enjoy the ride!
Book Review by, Joseph J. Gleason / JR Hafer, aviation writer JRHaferAviationBlog.com/reviews This is the first and probably only book that will be written by Erik B. Kaye, but he has quite a talent. I struggle for words to describe the emotional roller coaster that I experienced while reading it. I never laughed so hard and I was never so anxious for the thrill of flying like a bird in a blender. I know you will enjoy reading this true life story and I would recommend it to anyone, whether or not you have any interest in hang gliding.
Even if you think you have no fear of flying at all, you will be thrilled and nervous for the outcome of each of several scenarios the author encounters. You will be taken to the places your mind never wants to go when you are the only pilot in command and under conditions you would never willingly subject yourself unless you have a passion for the adrenaline rush of one near death experience after another after hampering your senses with excessive partying that would challenge the stamina of any veteran rugby player. The author willingly competes in an environment where the winner must overcome obstacles of such dimensions that are almost unimaginable, and yet he survives when his companions with more experience fail.
Testing fate day after day, night after night, subjecting himself to the most taunting associations with the most relentless among human competitors and literally throwing caution to the wind, embracing threats from unprotected exposure to the most powerful forms of natural violence at every turn of the page, thunder, lightning and freezing rain, the author resorts to every form of self medication with nocturnal regularity. Leaving nothing to the imagination, this author has captured the true meaning of “going for the gusto” with experiences most wise men would never consider. The draw seems to be painfully enduring indulgences for the thrill of measuring success in as little as mere survival. A culture has evolved among those who take up this way of life. It is more than a hobby for the author, it is an almost inescapable lifestyle that could be viewed as a true cult following.
For those whose curiosity will not let go of them, the author grabs you by the arm and pulls you into his flight, each and every time, jumping from cliffs around the world to be thrust into the vortex of storms so violent the pilots lose consciousness and too often fall futilely struggling for minutes to their deaths. This goes with the territory. The other pilots salute them.
The author makes you wonder if the participants in his tightly knitted group aren’t really suicidal. What would possess someone to challenge a thunderstorm hanging from a mere kite? Each experience begins with the difficulty of commuting to the launch site, the challenge to be first to take flight, ignoring obvious signs of potentially lethal conditions, struggling to overcome hypoxia and freezing temperatures, maneuvering among the flock of like minded maniacs, often with no hope of finding a suitable landing site, crashing to earth, through cacti, trees, power lines, cow manure, all the while trying desperately to avoid a face plant.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to float spiraling among the clouds, then dive head first at speeds up to 80 miles per hour, blinded by frost then sweat, seeking blue sky above a dense rainforest canopy, or vaulting off ledges to blindly spiral to cloud tops, this author will describe the experience in terms that will keep you thoroughly entertained and addicted.
You may wish you were in your twenties again or you may be very grateful you are not.
Buy this one, read it, and place it on your gift list for the pilot who thinks he has nothing else to learn about the art of reading clouds, updrafts and spotting safe emergency landing sites.
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