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Conventional gear refers to the traditional configuration of an airplane’s landing gear with a wheel mounted on the very tail of the craft. Focusing on teaching pilots to overcome some of the difficulties of taildragger aircraft, this guide teaches critical skills for controlling the plane on takeoff, landing without bouncing the aircraft, and handling the craft on the ground. In addition to the theory and dynamics and the piloting techniques for tailwheel planes, information is also supplied on the specific handling characteristics of many popular tailwheel aircraft such as the Cessna 185 Skywagon, the Piper Pawnee, and the De Havilland D.H.82 Tiger Moth.

Fate Is the Hunter , ISBN 0-671-63603-0, was a 1961 bestseller by aviation authorErnest K. Gann. Autobiographical, though reading at times like an adventure novel, it describes his years working as a pilot at American Airlines starting in DC-2s and DC-3s when civilian air transport was in its infancy, wartime flying in C-54s and C-87s, and later Matson Navigation's upstart (albeit short-lived) airline and various post-WWII "nonscheduled" airlines in DC-4s.

Reviewing the book on its appearance, Martin Caidin wrote that his reminiscences "stand excitingly as individual chapter-stories, but the author has woven them superbly into a lifetime of flight." [1] Roger Bilstein[2], in a history of flight, says that of books that

discuss airline operations from the pilot's point of view, "few works of this genre equal E. K. Gann's Fate Is the Hunter, which strikingly evokes the atmosphere of air transport flying during the 1930s."

The plot of the 1964 movie of the same name had no relation to the book. Gann had written some early drafts of the script, but was so unhappy with the final result that he asked to have his name removed from it. In his autobiography, A Hostage to Fortune, Gann wrote, "They obliged and as a result I deprived myself of the TV residuals, a medium in which the film played interminably."

The plot of the fictional book, The High and the Mighty, (written by Gann) bears some resemblance to one of the true stories in Fate is the Hunter. On a flight from Hawaii to San Francisco a mysterious vibration puzzled the flight crew during the entire trip. The vibration was later traced to a malfunction that would have likely caused the plane to crash had they not inadvertently maintained a higher-than-normal airspeed throughout the flight. Another fictional book by Gann, Island in the Sky, is also based on a true story told in Fate is the Hunter.

This literal survival guide for new pilots identifies "The killing zone," the 40-250 flight hours during which unseasoned aviators are likely to commit lethal mistakes. Presents the statistics of how many pilots will die in the zone within a year; calls attention to the eight top pilot killers (such as "VFR into IFR," "Takeoff and Climb"); and maps strategies for avoiding, diverting, correcting, and managing the dangers. Includes a Pilot Personality Self-Assessment Exercise that identifies pilot "types" and how each type can best react to survive the killing zone.