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Running with Scissors, Pilot Error

There is nothing about Burroughs' recollection of his childhood that is ordinary. Son of a bipolar mother and an absent father, Burroughs finds himself under the care of his mother's bizarre psychiatrist, Dr. Finch. The manner in which he is raised is, to say the least, nontraditional and to say the most, bordering on child abuse. The supposedly "spiritually advanced" Dr. Finch believes that children should be considered adult at the age of 13. After reaching this age his children are no longer required to go to school or clean up after themselves or basically do anything they don't want to do. While having enough freedom to do whatever you like may be a teenager's dream come true, it doesn't actually make for great parenting. However, it does make for fascinating reading. From the strange quirks and tics of childhood to the realization that he is gay to the bizarre household in which he is "raised," Burroughs is able to cast a spell over his reader that is at once hysterical and incredibly sad. So read the book; you will definitely enjoy it. Just be aware of low-flying planes while doing so.

- Francis W. Decker

The Mystery of Flight

Richmond author Phaedra Hise's new book, "Pilot Error" (Brasseys Inc., $24.95), is the factual anatomy of a little-known aviation disaster. She weaves the story of how even a skilled pilot can easily slip into trouble, with one seemingly insignificant mistake leading to another more deadly chain of events. Her engaging narrative illustrates that while a private plane crash receives slightly more attention than a car accident, the wreckage, both in human terms and physical debris are as complex and hard to figure out as a jumbo jet full of victims.

Ron Sinzheimer left his downtown Albany, N.Y., law office Friday, Oct. 9, 1998, and drove to the airport. Hoping to squeeze in one last weekend at his vacation home before closing it for the season, he took off in his Grumman Traveler airplane for Cape Cod. The family dog, Theo, accompanied him to the Cape where his wife, Marsha, waited for their arrival. An experienced pilot, with a license to fly under "instrument flight rules," he knew the route well. The weather report was iffy, but Sinzheimer felt confident that he could make the two-hour flight to Provincetown. He never arrived.

In her third book, Hise, an instrument-rated pilot herself, gently instructs the reader on the technical aviation terms that provide a necessary backdrop to understanding Sinzheimer's final fate. More than just an aviation book, "Pilot Error" is part thriller, part mystery and, most significantly, part tragedy.

- Lee Hall


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