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November 2016


Photograph: Simon Dwyer (Flying out over Sydney, 2013)There are lots of opportunities to read, watch and play – up in the air.

For science fiction fans there are works about flying through space (classics such as Star Wars and 2001) as well as flying through time with Dr Who. For those who prefer their science without the fiction there are many examples that document the history of space as well as the history of the different space programs.

Fantasy has seen many characters airborne from dragons to the rescue, by eagles, of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. Such escapes reflected in real life through flights to safety attempted by asylum seekers and refugees.

2014 witnessed numerous commemorations for the Centenary of the Great War, with 2015 marking the Centenary of ANZAC, prompting many readers to reflect on conflict. As marks of respect for the fallen continue to be offered throughout 2016 there are various #flightread works available for readers, watchers and players. Airborne conflicts were significant components of World War I and World War II as well as subsequent conflicts including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the ongoing ‘War on Terror’. Another anniversary, in 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl who, famous for a writer of children’s stories, was also a Hurricane fighter pilot during World War I.

There are also histories around the business of moving people through the air, including histories of innovation and invention, histories of travel, histories of great aviators and aviatrix, as well as histories of space and the rise of commercial carriers such as Qantas and Virgin (and the occasional fall Ansett and Pan Am). Sitting alongside these works are stories that tell of flight disasters – fiction and non-fiction.

The natural world presents lots of #flightread examples, think: bats; bees; birds; and insects; and those that almost fly – flying fish, flying lemurs and gliding possums in addition to fantastic creatures such as cherubs, fairies and devils. Flying is also about sport and recreation from balloons to kites, from fly fishing to quidditch.

Flying and flight inspires us from airline captain to superman, from meteorologist to metallurgist there are so many special interest groups in aviation, covering a wide range of applications. The ability to move people and goods great distances quickly fascinates us. Travel to exotic places, movie sets, quiet escapes, or ancestral homelands, once took months by sea, then weeks by early aircraft is now measured in hours. We travel to broaden our horizons and examine other places and cultures, some even travel just for the experience of flight. You can prepare for these adventures through a range of podcasts including: Airplane Geeks; Plane Crazy; and Airline Pilot Guy. Or, you could test your own flying skills with games such as Flight Control or you could try a Flight Simulator.

Most flights now feature some sort of entertainment – be it hundreds of audio visual programs, games or in flight wifi. There are two entertainment options that never need batteries, rebooting, new software or an upgrade: the aircraft window; and a good book.

There will be a twitter discussion on 29 November  starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags  #flightread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of  #flightread, so others can join in the conversation too.

Simon Dwyer @ausspin / Rachel Franks @cfwriter

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