Saturday, February 21, 2009

West With the Night

"If a man [or woman] has any greatness in him, it comes to light not in one flamboyant hour, but in the ledger of his daily work." ~ Beryl Markham in West with the Night

If you've never read Beryl's book, I highly recommend that you run to your nearest book vender (whatever that might mean...library, bookstore, internet, kindle) and get it. It is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. But then I love to fly, and Beryl Markham was a flyer, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west, making the trip on September 4-5, 1936.

Born in England, Beryl grew up in Kenya where she was the first woman to earn a commercial pilot's license. She was also well-known as a bush pilot and often flew with Denys Finch-Hatton, beloved friend of my other favorite Kenyan writer Karen Blixon. West With the Night is her memoirs of her life in Kenya and the Atlantic flight, published in 1942 to great acclaim.

I think about her often when I am flying. I would so love to have flown back in those early days, when there was nothing between you and the clouds but the wind rushing through your hair. Flying the way she did in Africa, skimming the grasslands, with herds of zebra, antelope, giraffe, elephants grazing and running below you...I can think of nothing better.

Photos from Wikipedia and Encylopedia Britanica

1 comment:

Beth said...

Oh I loved this book--I read it many, many years ago and also Straight On To Morning, a biography of Beryl Markham. Thanks for reminding me of it, I think it's time for a re-read.