The Last Flight is a story of survival and redemption with a very unexpected but welcome twist at the end. I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed RC Bray’s performance and spot on interpretation of the characters. Great job, as always.
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.
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.
The Last Flight is the heroic story of Gil Connor, a senior Army helicopter pilot and aging Vietnam vet as he struggles with an impending terminal illness and the desire to pull off one last daring rescue. Connor finds himself in a constant battle against his internal demons during his quest to reach the survivors of a remote plane crash deep in the Alaskan mountains–a rescue that perhaps only he can pull off.
The stranded plane’s captain, Scott Sanders, takes charge after the crash, in spite of his injuries and the realization that his dream of flying for a major airline is destroyed. One of the passengers, a retired school teacher, assists him while barely holding herself together. They soon realize that time is not on their side in the Alaskan polar climate.
Connor, who’s haunted by the horrors of war and a turbulent past, is torn between ending his life before the inevitable and saving the marooned crash victims before it’s too late. His underlying intentions are unknown, even to himself, until the very end. Aided by an untested protégée and a mysterious young girl found at the crash site, Connor struggles in a desperate gamble to achieve the near impossible. Amid the turmoil of an approaching storm and almost certain failure, his flying skills and drive for redemption are the only hope.