WHEELS UP is the story of Steve Taylor’s life from childhood through his retirement as Senior Captain for Delta Airlines.
Taylor takes us through his excruciating days at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, SC and from there into the cauldron of combat flying in Viet Nam. All of this is preparatory for his long career as a pilot for a major airline. Captain Taylor was fortunate enough to fly when passengers dressed “in their Sunday best”, terminal were not crowded and the TSA lines were nonexistent. Though he does not use the words directly, he describes what it was like to be in charge of an airliner during the Golden Age of Aviation.
Although he self-deprecatingly refers to his supposedly lackluster academic ability, he did graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering. Likewise, he describes his struggle with airsickness yet he did earn pilot’s wings from the US Air Force and did fly combat missions into “hot zones” in the jungle. Perhaps the most surprising part of the book is the propensity for airline pilots, those serious sounding voices on the aircraft intercom, for practical joking. The brunt of these jokes are usually flight personnel and the pilots seem to be in their element with a new employee in the cabin. Occasionally, the joke is on Capt. Taylor. At one time, while waiting for his ride to the airport, he was standing in uniform near the door of his hotel. A cab stops at the hotel and a woman emerges, hands Taylor her bags, saying: “Make sure these get to my room”. Capt. Taylor, ever the spokesperson for his airline, takes the bags to the desk. While the embarrassed woman is sputtering her apology, Capt. Taylor tells her that it was no problem and perhaps next time she would consider flying Delta.
WHEELS UP is a collection of stories of Steve Taylor’s life. Many are bound to cause a laugh but sometimes the story drags just a bit, especially the hunting scenes. However, the action moves quickly and rights itself soon enough.
It has been said that if one finds a job that they love, they will never work a day in their life. This is an apt description of Captain Taylor’s career from his first time in a Piper Cub as a child to his final day on the tarmac.
Reviewed by Ed Bennett for IndieReader.