"As the wing disappeared under the flames, my plane began spiraling toward the ground."

Roy Warner is a lucky man. Born in 1895 "under a lucky star," Warner grows up poor among the gold mining camps while he and his sister perform in vaudeville shows. Eventually, they join and tour the country with the Ringling Brothers before reconnecting with their parents again in Montana. After high school, Warner enlists in the Navy but nearly dies from pneumonia and is saved by his future wife, Nurse Fern Gallagher. Warner makes a life-changing decision to drop out of college to join the Air Mail Service as a mechanic, pursuing his dream of flying.

In the second half of the book, Gibson further explores the trajectory and ramifications of Warner's career after receiving a medal of honor from President Roosevelt for bravely piloting a burning plane and saving its mail. A critical decision leads Warner away from the U.S. to work with a newly formed airline in Lima, Peru. While there, he embraces the culture while struggling with his marriage to Fern and accepting new love with the labor secretary of Peru, Itala Roma Gasco.

In this biography that's also part history lesson, Gibson gracefully portrays a lauded air mail flyer's fascinating, adventurous, and often dangerous life. The author carefully traces in a linear fashion Warner's time in both North America and South America in the midst of world wars, health scares, love and loss, and a stimulating career until the bittersweet end. With their familial connection, Gibson presents an accessible account and engaging portrait of Warner that offers a rare glimpse into a little-known facet of U.S. history. Overall, it is a beautiful retrospect that fully celebrates and commemorates one man's dedication and sacrifice and the special camaraderie among fellow airmail pilots.

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