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Born to Fly by Bill Reid


Helicopters are dangerous, but that’s what makes them so cool! I was 22 when I had my first helicopter ride and given that I didn’t have a whole pile of cash in my wallet at the time, it was of course a free ride. My other helicopter trip was also free on the Westpac Rescue chopper. Thankfully for me I wasn’t needing it for it’s primary function, it was a just a quick trip to Ardmore for it’s regular service, thanks to a family connection.


Both trips were exceptionally memorable. Sure the scenery was grand, and that unique feeling you get when flying in a chopper will always be with me, but the most intriguing part was the pilot. Here was a guy that got to do his favourite thing and he got to do it every single day. Everyone else on the planet has to fork out large volumes of money for an experience that these guys get all the time.


Bill Reid is one of those lucky folk who get to experience the exhilaration of flying a helicopter every day. His book Born to Fly is a book detailing his life of flying. His family heritage set him up well for a life in the air and forty years of experience later he would easily be classed as one of the top pilots in the country.


Born to Fly could also be seen as a historical record of helicopters in New Zealand, given that either Bill or a member of his immediate family was there at the ground level when helicopters first came to these shores. That probably should read ‘air level’, as ground level is not really appropriate in this circumstance.


Reid details the danger and the risk that pilots had to endure in the 70’s when it became a popular method for deer hunting. Cowboys were rife in the business but Reid was able to make it through, even still there were some close calls. He went on to set up an incredibly successful charter company and still continues to fly every day. Damn, some people get all the luck.


For me, I will have to stick to flying choppers in flight simulators for the time being, but this book definitely recreated the thrill of flying that you can only really get from being in a helo yourself. Plus buying the book is way less expensive and considerably less dangerous than taking a flight yourself.


If you are a chopper fan, or just a fan of excitement, Born to Fly will be a great addition to your library.


REVIEWER: Drew Thompson

TITLE: Born to Fly: Three Generations of Kiwi Helicopter Pilots

AUTHOR(S): Bill Reid

PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House

RRP: $39.99


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