Book review: Jochl overcomes fear by taking flight

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"The Aviatrix: Fly Like a Girl," is one of those books about an activity you dream about but may never actually do yourself.

It shares everything you ever wanted to know about it all, written out in detail, in personal terms, and with all the flair of genuine experience, making it the perfect adventure book.

In this case it is about learning to fly small aircraft and is by one of the Berkshires' very own heroes of high adventure, Kimberley Jochl.

Jochl grew up in Lee (as Kimberley Schmidinger) and was a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

Krista, her identical twin sister, also a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, figures prominently at the start of the book when she offers Jochl a literal picture of courage by skydiving out of a "perfectly good airplane" and sends Jochl and their mother a videotape of it all.

It is the challenge of courage that inspires Jochl to take up flying in the first place.

The adventure began when Jochl, an otherwise confident athlete in world-class alpine skiing, realized, with ever-increasing intensity, she was seriously afraid of flying in small airplanes.

This was a real problem for her because her husband, Gunther, is an expert licensed pilot in every respect. He owns an eight-seat, Piper Cheyenne II, twin-engine turbo-prop plane, and flying was very much a part of their lives.

Upon much reflection and encouragement from friends and family, the author decided the only way to overcome her fear of flying was to become a pilot herself, in spite of how impossible that may have at first seemed.

The book tells the story of her journey to become a pilot in a wonderful first-person narrative, taking the reader from her courageous confrontation of this fear, through what it takes to get a pilot's license — including all the exciting anecdotes of actually piloting a plane solo — to developing the skills of a seasoned pilot managing wind and weather, and of course, anxiety.

This is a story of how a focused, disciplined and determined individual can harness what it takes to do what seems unimaginable, a story of overcoming limits, much like flying itself.

It is a story that chronicles the joys of flying.

"The Aviatrix" is a great story because of Jochl's very personal sharing of her adventures (with photos) mastering the art of flying.

Every aspect — both technical and emotional — of her generous and well-crafted renderings of what it is like to fly, what it takes to get there, each triumph in her breakthroughs, is a true literary accomplishment.

Now a confident, proficient pilot, she maintains and flies her own 1969 Cessna Skylane from her home, the Village of Sugar Mountain, N.C.

Colin Harrington is the events manager at The Bookstore & Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox. Colin welcomes reader comments at charrington686@gmail.com

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