In the sanctum of a tiny single-seat biplane, a DSA-1 Smith Miniplane, Antonio Rotondo discovered the miracle of flight. A farmer's son from San Giacomo, Antonio took his first flight over Nairobi, Kenya, in 1970 at the age of 24. By 1976, he had become a commercial pilot. Then, in the early 1980s, he purchased a single-seat, open-cockpit, home-built Smith biplane, a throwback to leather flying caps, gauntlets, pencil-thin moustaches, and twinkling eyes behind oil-speckled goggles.
More than three decades later, Antonio's son, Jonathan, came across one of only three airworthy Smith biplanes and thus began a journey to retrace his father's airborne life. He finds Antonio's first flying instructor, an Australian ex-pat living in Kenya; the soft-spoken Swiss-Canadian who managed to get Antonio's biplane into the air; the free-spirit dreamer who bought it to dogfight with his mates; and the air traffic controller who, as a teenager, bought the plans to build the biplane that Jonathan would fly 35 years later.
In this story of a father and son, Jonathan catches fleeting glimpses of his father's life in air and rediscovers his own passion for flight. All the while he captures "the rush of speed, the exhilaration of the wind's breath rushing through the cockpit and along the fabric flanks, the surreal sensation of gravity's pull and lift's might."
Pub date: February 19, 2019