Tonight I can scarcely remember the plot or the characters’ names, but the details are still vivid.
In Airport, Arthur Hailey weaves together several plots whose characters happen to be in a particular place, just as he did in Hotel.
In this case, the scene is the fictitious Lincoln International Airport in the overnight hours during a blizzard.
The story focuses primarily on Mel Bakersfeld, the airport’s general manager, who has a rocky marriage, a brother whose air controller job is pushing him toward suicide, and an aging airport no longer capable of meeting the demands of aviation in the post-JFK era.
Hailey works in a couple of plots, one quite implausible, to make the point that airports are dangerously inadequate from a safety perspective.
Hailey tackles the stereotypes about pilots and stewardesses with a story line about one such duo for whom Hailey can’t seem to muster much liking.
What Hailey does marvelously, however, is relay the nuts-and-bolts details of the unseen jobs — the maintenance crews, the ticket counter staff, the air traffic controllers — so readers feel like they are looking over their shoulders as they work.
Airport is worth reading just for that.
Airport by Arthur Hailey
Doubleday, 1968. 440 p. 1968 bestseller #1. My grade: B.
© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni