A pilot looks back | Order

In early May, it was great news that a passenger, using air traffic control, managed to land a small plane safely after the pilot became uncomfortable. Anyone who concludes that controlling a flying machine is not something will come to read the book carried on wingssubtitle A pilot looks back, soon to change his mind.

Author Harold van der Linden has the right to speak with his 55 years of flying experience. Anyone who disparagingly assumes that, given his long career at Transavia, he was only sitting on the buck of “73s” is mistaken. He certainly spent many hours on the Boeing 737. However, the 757 and 767 can also be found in his logbooks as well as the Caravelle, Fokker S-11, Douglas DC-3, Fouga Magister CM-170 and various types of gliders.

A Transavia Caravelle at Salzburg Airport in 1972 © Jonathan Walton

Worth the trust

He always made successful landings, although sometimes difficulties arose that required real air crew. The fact that Harold writes so candidly about the times when one made a successful landing was not a matter of course makes the book worth reading. By sharing such experiences instead of hiding them, the former captain shows that aviation, including its crews, is worthy of trust. It is a sign of Transavia’s reliability that Marcel de Nooijer, CEO of this airline, was willing to write the preface to a book that does not shy away from practice.

As clearly and honestly as possible

Harold not only describes some exciting flights where even the international emergency signal ‘Mayday’ had to be used once. He also explains how he informs passengers about the situation on board and motivates his choice for ‘as clear and honest as possible’. He is open about the intervention he received as co-pilot of the captain, which prevented a collision with two T-33 fighter jets. He makes it palpable how exciting it always is to get into the simulator for the professional check. It’s a joke about the clever trick he did as a co. A condescending Martinair captain became so dissatisfied that Harold had to confront his superior over a complaint from the red-tailed airline about ‘unprofessional behavior’ from one of the Transavia crews. It was still happening at the time when Harold talks about the relationship in the cockpit: ‘During the first year at Transavia, I sometimes had the feeling that I might as well just put my driver’s license on the seat, so to speak, such a captain would not ‘it bother me and he could still ask the purser to operate the landing gear and the flaps.’

© LP98, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Goes out as “own owner”

Because Transavia sometimes leases its machines, including the flight crew, to another airline on the basis of a so-called wet-lease contract, Harold has visited places where the company with the green tails does not operate itself several times. Because it was’ much less structured and organized ‘in those places, it came down to’ a constant urge for your ability to improvise, something that a charter pilot really likes. As’ your own boss’, you go out with a small sixty ton airplane and fix it all yourself along the way. ‘ Harold also found it interesting, ‘because for a long time you came in contact with a completely different culture’. He talked to special people and tells touching stories about them. He was shocked when a firearm was aimed at him at Banjul airport. It also happens in the fascinating world of aviation, as KLM founder Albert Plesman once said, that airspace connects all peoples about. As a pilot, Harold has always stuck to that motto.

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Harold understands the art of making it clear to outsiders how things work in the cockpit. But sometimes it’s too much of a good thing because a topic that has once been explained, for example, what the consequences are for humans when they come in contact with an environment where it’s minus fifty degrees Celsius, or what OCC entails , is discussed again in another chapter explained. In addition, the book has an excellent glossary. The special thing about that list is that it is said here about the Boeing 777 that with this design the ‘gap’ must be ‘filled between the 767 and the 747’. In 2022, the year of publication carried on wings, it has long been known that many 747s had to make room for ‘Triple Seven’.

Sometimes the explanation is also distracting, for example with the descriptions of Rhodes the tension ebbs out in the chapter on the escape through a storm cloud. In two cases, the explanation is also incorrect. The PH-PBA is not a gift from Dwight D. Eisenhouwer to Prince Bernhard, but on request he received permission from the General to purchase this machine. And the name Schiphol is not based on a treacherous cove in the old Haarlemmermeer, as it was still a real lake, but is a combination of two Gothic words: ‘Skip’ (to cut wood) and Holl (low-lying land).

But all of this can be tolerated because Harold’s honest openness in this book makes it quite tangible that he himself is what he sees in the exciting Fokker F-27 pilot at Air Zaire.

© Michel van de Mheen

special memories

Unfortunately, the presentation of the color images is disappointing. The format in which they are printed is sometimes almost small. There could have been more, though it would have affected the price of the book. The cover provides a beautifully designed overview of the 55-year-old flying experience for a pilot looking back. On the front page, Harold van der Linden can be seen as a little boy on the big Boeing 737-800 with the registration PH-HXE. On the back, he is pictured on the back, looking at all the planes that are part of his special memories of his life in the sky. There are certainly more than described in carried on wingsso hopefully there will be a sequel.

carried on wings

Harold van der Linden

hardcover | 280 pages | A booklet of 16 pages with color photos

ISBN: 9789038928371 | Publisher Elmar | 2022 | € 24.99

Leave a Comment