Long before the outrageous airline disaster movie-farce Airplane! had audiences rolling in the theaters laughing, there was the over-the-top serious thriller that inspired it. A friend and collegue mailed me Arthur Hailey's Runway Zero-Eight to read. Hailey wrote a series of airplane disaster books, including Airport, which inspired the movie series.Sure, Runway Zero-Eight is dated. On the opening page, the ticket agent says "no smoking until you're in the air." And the flight attendants are called "stewardess" and are oogled over by the pilots.
Airplane! parodied just about every scene in the book. Yes, both pilots ate the fish. There's the grumpy doctor and former Navy pilot on board. And the tempermental autopilot. All that's missing are the jive-speaking nuns.
However, Hailey brings the adventure of aviation alive just before the jet age in his 1958 thriller.
Pick up a copy and read it on the train to the airport. And don't eat the fish.