Well everybody, it’s snowing in New York. There are already a few inches on the ground as I write this and who knows how many will be there once you come to read this. Wherever you’re reading from – be it somewhere snowy as well, somewhere hot, or somewhere in between – you can find yourself transported to New York by our discussion of Airport, by Arthur Hailey.
Published in 1968, Airport comes to us straight from the tail-end of the Golden Age of Flying. The Golden Age reached its peak in the 1950s, at which point flying was an exclusive and expensive affair. Flying was an event of itself, as passengers dressed up for the occasion and enjoyed craft cocktails and meals throughout the trip.
However, the definition of the Golden Age of Flying shifted in the 1960s when it became more of a commonality, but with passengers still dressing much nicer than they do today (sorry everyone, I’m calling all of us out for going on planes in our pajamas).
Therefore, this is the perfect time to craft what would become a Number One New York Times-bestselling thriller about a snowstorm that results in an airport falling into a state of absolute mayhem. It takes place at Lincoln International, which is a fictional airport in Chicago and it follows Mel Bakersfield, the Airport General Manager.
With much of the book spanning the time of one night, it depicts Bakersfield trying to keep the airport open and running, despite the snow that has closed the primary runway; a huge issue when a plane has experienced a midair emergency and needs to land on that runway, specifically. What was the emergency and why can the plane only land on that runway? You would have to read the novel to find that out!
Hailey wrote this, along with nine other thriller novels; many of which also made it to the Best Sellers List. In fact, eight of the ten made it to the official list, but all ten became international best sellers as well. His books were translated to at least forty languages and there were more than 170 million copies sold. It was his writing method, though, that allowed him to craft such detailed and heart-racing novels.
He was known for diving head-first into research, spending up to a year on that stage of his writing alone, before turning to the planning and writing stages of his process. Some of this research included first-hand experience, as he had spent months on a car plant for his novel Wheels and tracked rebel guerrillas in Peru at the age of sixty-seven for The Evening News.
Hailey said on this writing, “My only other comment is that my novels are the work of one who seeks principally to be a storyteller but reflect also, I hope, the excitement of living here and now.”