A fascinating account of Gonzales's love affair with flying, plus engaging sketches of similarly smitten folk--some of whom have paid for their passion with their lives. Novelist, short-story writer, journalist, essayist, pilot- -Gonzales (The Still Point, 1989) is all of these. Now he has turned his attention to what seems to be his favorite subject, private flying. ``One Zero Charlie'' is pilot lingo for Galt Airport in northern Illinois, one of the hundreds of small private airfields that dot the American countryside. To Gonzales and a flock of like-minded people, Galt is a roost where they gather to share their obsession. There's Art Galt and his wife, Vera, who bit by bit transformed their farm acreage into today's Galt Field. There's Lloyd Hughes, a veteran commercial pilot who took his son up in his open-cockpit biplane and, too close to the ground for a tricky aerobatic maneuver he'd done many times before, ended up killing both himself and his son. Also at Galt is orthopedic surgeon Boone Brackett, who thinks nothing of dashing to the airport on Friday night, flying to New York for a weekend of opera, then winging back to Chicago in time to see patients Monday morning. There's businessman Amos Buetell, aerobatic daredevil, always able to walk away from crashes until the last one, which ended in flames. There are the ``two-hundred-dollar cheeseburger'' pilots who take planes up for a short spin, drop down at a nearby airfield for a snack, then return to base, all for the sheer joy of flight. There are the laconic mechanics, hiding their affection for the birds they maintain or rebuild and knowing that a missing bolt may spell death to a pilot. And last, among many other memorable characters, is Gonzales, hopelessly in love with flying. A beautifully written prose-poem about the pleasures and perils of flight.