Book Review: Flying South – A Pilot’s Inner Journey

When I think about flying, I only regret not learning it sooner.

— Barbara Cushman Rowell

I have always been fascinated about flying to new and unexplored (that is not necessarily piloted by me, but if I can, so much the better) countries and continents. I love to at the very least do a scenic flight: be it over the skyline over Sydney, Australia; in a helicopter over Cairns, Queensland , Australia flying over the Great Barrier Reef;  in a seaplane over Vancouver, British Columbia,Canada, or over San Juan Islands, Washington, USA to name a few. Every time I travel to a new city, country or continent,I research opportunities for aircraft checkout, aircraft rental and places to fly in a small plane. I like to squeeze in flight time if I can.

I came across the book Flying South by Barbara Cushman Rowell through my friend Camille Nelson, who initially loaned me the book to read. Since then, I have procured my own copy of the book. I remember learning about South America in high school. How cool to be able to fly through Chile, Argentina, Patagonia and the exotic South American continent!

IMG_0105Flying South is a book about adventure, a pilot’s inner journey of self discovery and a trip of a life time. Over a period of two months, Barbara Cushman Rowell, her husband Galen  Rowell (famous National Geographic photographer) and brother Robert Cushman fly south from Oakland, CA through Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and the South American continent, back north over the West Indies, Dominican Republic, Florida and west across the United States back to Oakland, California.

If you like adventure, a chance to explore new continents, a chance to fly over uncharted territory, then Flying South offers just that: a journey through South America, the unexplored world of Durango, Gautemala, Costa Rica, Patagonia, the Andes mountains, and the Amazon

Barbara Cushman was the President of Mountain Light Photography and Galen Rowell was a world renowned nature and adventure photographer. Unfortunately on the eve of the day that Flying South was published, Barbara Cushman Rowell and Galen Rowell were killed in an aircraft accident in a charter plane when their pilot was attempting to land at Bishop, CA.

Here’s a description from for the book:

Call it love at first flight. Barbara Cushman Rowell was already a powerhouse by anyone’s measure, but it wasn’t until she tried flying that she found the inner fulfillment and sense of self she’d longed for all her life. As the driving force behind husband Galen Rowell’s business success, Barbara’s adventures and accomplishments had always been the byproduct of her husband’s career.Until, that is, she took off and sailed into a strata all her own.

FLYING SOUTH is the hair-raising, reflective, and ultimately inspiring story of Barbara’s trip of a lifetime—a 25,000-mile, 57-leg journey through Latin America and the recesses of her soul, discovering unrealized self-confidence, irrepressible resourcefulness, and vast reserves of emotional and physical strength she never knew she had. And what a journey it was. She recounts landing in the middle of a coup in Panama, narrowly escaping disaster when key flight instruments failed over Peru, flying herself to an oral surgeon after a mouth-smashing rafting accident on the Bio Bio River in Chile, fighting plane-shredding winds over the Andes, and surviving a life-threatening and disorienting tropical storm off the coast of Brazil—all while navigating the pervasive and demoralizing chauvinism of the aviation world. But much more than a harrowing page-turner, Barbara’s tale of finding herself through flight inspires us all to go after the experiences we long for, and to live the lives we only wish for.


Flying South

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Flying South – A Pilot’s Inner Journey

  1. flynthings February 10, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Fly 'n Things and commented:

    Words on Wednesday… so much fun to fly to Machu Picchu


    • flynthings February 11, 2016 / 9:19 pm


      No, I haven’t heard about that book. Will check it out. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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