A couple of issues back I mentioned here that if everyone in the U.S. traveled on airlines as much as the readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, the airlines would carry eight times as many passengers as they do. The ink was hardly dry on this statement before I ran into another aeronautical fact with which I was then quite unfamiliar. In the foreword of his book, Wind on My Wings, published August 26 by Doubleday, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Associate Editor Percy Knauth notes that the number of hours per year logged by people flying for business or pleasure in private planes is more than three times the total time flown by scheduled commercial airlines.
Putting these two statistics together and knowing the active and adventurous proclivities of our readers, I couldn't avoid the guess, and it is a guess, that if everyone in the U.S. flew private planes as much as readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, the number of hours logged would be 24 times that flown by scheduled airlines. Whether that is truly the case or not, the flying of private planes is a subject 'of far more than common importance to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, as it is surely an activity which our readers pursue far beyond the average of the nation.
But for Editor Knauth it is, at its simplest, a dedication, and here is how he expresses it in his foreword:
"These were experiences that no books, no movies, no dreams could ever remotely convey. And that is why this book has turned out so differently from its original concept. There came to be on paper my intensely personal story about my discovery of what flying really is. Most of this book was written immediately after making certain flights which were particularly meaningful in that discovery, for I wanted to get my feelings into words while they were still fresh within me, to communicate as quickly as I could my own excitement of these early ventures into the reality of the air. I envy those who still have the experience of learning to fly ahead of them. I hope they will find everything in it that I found, and more."
September 4, 1960
Next week the words of Percy Knauth from Wind on My Wings join with the pictures of W. Eugene Smith, one of the great photographers of this age, to present the mood and the experience of private flying more vividly and evocatively, I believe, than ever before.