- Audiobook Review
- Author: Gregory P Liefer
- Performed by RC Bray
- Released: June 2017 by Brilliance Audio
- Category: Survival, Suspense, Audiobook, Review, Action, Adventure, Reading, Books
Set against the harsh beauty of Alaska, a veteran helicopter pilot is torn between ending his own embattled life and rescuing survivors from a mountain plane crash.
The Last Flight is the story of Gil Connor, a middle-aged Vietnam veteran and Army helicopter pilot. His exploits are almost legendary amongst his peers but Gil is now fighting a losing battle against terminal cancer. His dreams are haunted by the horrors he’s witnessed and friends lost in battle, not to mention coming to terms with the loss of both his children. Gil has decided to die as he has lived, on his own terms, and takes a helicopter out for a last flight.
Meanwhile a passenger plane has crash landed deep in the Alaskan mountains. Gil hears the plane’s distress signal and his instincts kick in. He takes a desperate gamble when he decides to assist in a daring rescue. A storm is fast approaching and his superior flying skills are the survivors’ only hope.
The opening prologue from 1972 in South Vietnam, sets up Gil’s back story, and along with several flashbacks throughout the narrative gives a good sense of how his personality has developed.
Connor was ten months into his second tour. The mission schedule was winding down, and he looked forward to returning home. Death had become routine for him. He was no longer shocked by the horrors of war and the lack of emotion was beginning to affect his subconscious. Suppressing his emotions was a daily occurrence, at least while he was awake. The dead only haunted him in his dreams.
Thoughts of his family were pushed aside for fear they would distract him. His survival depended on staying focused. Only at night and when he wasn’t preoccupied with flying did he think of his wife and kids. His last thoughts were always of them before drifting into a restless sleep. They gave him strength to awaken another morning.
Despite the subject matter of Gil’s situation, this isn’t all doom and gloom. Character driven with a solid and exciting storyline, the only thing that, for me, lets it down is too much unnecessary detail and technical information, which interrupts the flow. It’s obvious the author knows his stuff inside out, he has extensive experience and has written two factual books, but sometimes less is more for a fiction novel. Well written with realistic character portrayals and interactions although I would have liked the mysterious young girl’s character to have been explored in more depth. The part she played didn’t really take off or add to the plot but the glimpse of her intrigued me.
Gil is a sympathetic and compelling protagonist who’s had a tough personal life. I couldn’t help but become invested in his story and I can’t even imagine how experiences like his would affect a person. The mindset, not only of Gil but pilots in general, especially the focus, skill and courage needed when flying in extremely adverse conditions, is shown to great effect. There’s a good mix of distinct characters and personalities and the scenic descriptions call up vivid imagery.
A story of survival and redemption with a very unexpected but welcome twist at the end. I enjoyed RC Bray’s performance and spot on interpretation of the characters. Great job, as always.
About the author
Greg served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and as helicopter pilot/instructor pilot at various locations, including two tours in Alaska. After retirement he continued flying for a civilian company in Alaska until 2012. He has been researching and writing for thirty years. He holds an FAA Airline Transport Pilot certificate and has flown thousands of hours in various aircraft. Twenty-three of his thirty-two years flying experience was in Alaska.
THE LAST FLIGHT, a novel set against the harsh beauty of Alaska, is his first fiction work and was released in April 2016 by Yucca Publishing.
BROKEN WINGS, an informative account of aviation disasters in Alaska, was released by Publication Consultants in 2014. (A previous version by Hancock House Publishers with a different cover image is of lesser quality and not recommended.)
AVIATION MYSTERIES OF THE NORTH, detailing major aircraft disappearances, was released in 2011.