'Until his thirties Fred Hoinville had led a humdrum life. Then he decided to learn to fly, and after frighteningly few lessons he was looping the loop high over Sydney. As the plane wasn't designed for it, and the pilot's instructions came solely from a book, the episode nearly ended in disaster. But Hoinville went on to gain his licence and soon was an enthusiast not only for power flying but also for gliding.
In gliders he discovered the excitement of rising swiftly on
an air current, and soared for idyllic hours over the countryside. He mastered
the terrors of flying inside cloud, where all links with the world are lost and
the senses cannot be trusted. In his Tiger Moth, Brolga - eventually to be
almost as well known as its owner - Hoinville became a stunt-flyer and (in 1952)
the first Australian commercial skywriter. He gives a fine, step-by-step
description of how the skywriter executes his difficult work; in fact,
throughout this book the reader is with the author in the cockpit, learning what
it feels like, what has to be done, to tow a glider, to perform an inverted
spin, to soar...
... Frederic Douglas Hoinville was born in Adelaide, a fourth-generation
Australian on his mother's side and on his father's descended from a long line
of Frenchmen. He died in a glider crash on 18th April 1959.
240p, Bookshelf size 146mm (5.75ins. ) wide, 207mm (8.125ins.) high. PB ~450g inc packaging, HC ~580g inc packaging
"Halfway to Heaven still makes me laugh out loud or weep unashamed as no other book in any genre. If I was King for a day it would be issued with every student pilot licence and be an addendum to all flight manuals"
(Thomas Capell, commercial pilot, 31/7/98)
"When I was in 4th year at High School I borrowed the book Halfway to Heaven from the school library. The book took my heart and caused a dream of flying to become a reality. I now have approximately 2500 hours of gliding and motor gliding and 600 hours of power flying and it is Fred’s fantastic book that made my dreams come true."
(Private Pilot & AOPA Member, 18/3/98)
"It is a delightful book particularly about the difficulties of skywriting and the early days of gliding."
(David Cooke, AOPA book review, Feb 1999)What do surfing and flying have in common? Fred Hoinville pondered this at Bondi Beach between breakers, and his curiosity would change his life irrevocably.
The resulting journal of his life may change your life a little bit too, for it is so enthralling and inspirational that you might just find yourself trying to emulate the "birdcage" or the "vertical flick". Perhaps you will drawn to the adventure, science and glory of wave soaring. Maybe you will hanker for the danger and precision of cloud flying - in cu nimbs! Fred Hoinville became a legend of the post WWII light aviation and gliding world: Australian soaring champion, our first commercial signwriter, airshow aerobat extraordinaire, aircraft designer and superb raconteur.
In this book you will learn why not to get raunchy in the grass around airfields, why some instruction is a good thing before attempting aerobatics, how to rub out or insert small print in sky writing, some unusual uses for toilet paper, and how Daisy the cow stole the limelight.
Or just visit the good ol' days, when you could fly a Tiger Moth into Kingsford Smith airport, scrounge petrol at RAAF aerodromes and even, God or CASA forbid, perform exciting low-level aerobatics at airshows.
Never maudlin or boring, Halfivay to Heaven has been out of print for several decades; and it is with heartfelt thanks to Fred's widow Grace that it is once more available. Grace, herself a very experienced pilot, tantalisingly promises to offer her own story soon.
If you want to learn some extraordinary flying techniques and philosophies, or bask in the splendor that was Fred's view of aviation, this is a book for you. It undoubtedly belongs in aviation literature's hall of fame.
Do yourself, or someone else who loves flying, a favour and give this precious tome a read. ( Thomas Capell, Reprinted with permission from Australian Flying July/August 1999 )
The August/September 2001 Gliding Kiwi has a book review on "Halfway to
Pricing Hardcover ( Limited Edition )
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