A physician slowly departs the breakneck life of a surgeon for the thrills of a career in the air in this memoir.
“It seemed all the stars were aligned” when the young Crawley arrived in Spokane, Washington, for the medical internship described in this follow-up to his 2013 memoir, A Mile of String. Crawley, newly married, had a family on the way and a burgeoning career as a physician before him. But his path wouldn’t be free of heart-stopping challenges and derring-do. Over the course of the book’s pages, the reader is privy to the joys and sorrows of a medical intern at a large hospital, a family physician, a novice flight surgeon, and a commercial airline pilot. Readers see Crawley diagnosing and rehydrating a severely ill little girl, presiding over the death of an infant while his own daughter Jill is being born healthy in an adjoining room, and, later, stitching up a sailor who “needed to have his face re-attached” as a flight surgeon for the Navy Reserves. It’s during this time in the Reserves that Crawley discovered a great love of aircraft and, eventually, of flying them. “With the canopy open and the wind blowing in my face, I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my body,” he writes of his first solo flight. “It was a wonderful kind of excitement, both exhilarating and scary at the same time.” The language can tend toward the clinical: “I made a short incision just proximal and anterior to the medial malleolus (the prominent bony knob on the inner aspect) of the ankle.” And while medical professionals and seasoned pilots will likely nod their heads and smile (or wince) at just the right times, the rest of the readers may, from time to time, find themselves scratching their cranial epidermis. But the larger story Crawley has to relate here—that of a young man who mastered one profession and then, driven by passion, conquered another—remains an inspiring one. “Never be afraid to follow the path to your dreams,” Crawley writes. “It will make all the difference.” In this detailed and emotionally honest narrative, he certainly proves that, at least in his own case, the advice is sound.
A courageous and meticulous doctor follows his dreams, saving a few lives and flying more than a few passengers to their destinations on the way.