“Patrick Smith doesn’t just know everything about air travel, he possesses a rare knack for explaining it in lucid and witty prose.”

– Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler


“I wish I could fold up Patrick Smith and put him in my suitcase. He seems to know everything worth knowing about flying.”

– Stephen Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics


“Patrick Smith is extraordinarily knowledgeable about modern aviation, and communicates beautifully in English, not in pilot-ese. The ideal seatmate, companion, writer and explainer.”

– Alex Beam, Boston Globe


“Always excellent”

– James Fallows, the Atlantic


“Patrick Smith is one of the best writers around, period, which certainly makes him by far the best writer ever to have earned a commercial pilot’s license. Ask the Pilot is deliciously stylish and informative. A soaring accomplishment, indispensable for anyone who travels by air, which means everyone.”

– James Kaplan


“A brilliant writer, Patrick Smith provides a laugh-a-page tour of a misunderstood industry — a journey into the world of aviation, stripped of the mumbo-jumbo and filled with humor and insight.

                – Christine Negroni, aviation correspondent and author of Flying Lessons


“Nobody covers the airline experience like Patrick Smith. He brings balance and clarity to a subject all too often over-hyped. And, he’s a damned good writer.”

– Clive Irving, Condé Nast Traveler



– Rudy Maxa


“Ask the Pilot actually makes flying fun.  Patrick Smith manages to demystify the experience and remind us of the magic of aviation.  Also he has a great sense of humor – which is critical when you are wedged into seat 14D on a regional jet.”

– Chris Bohjalian, author of The Night Strangers, The Double Bind, and Midwives


“Brilliantly down to earth and reassuring”

– Cath Urquhart, The Times (London)


“Smith’s essays cover a huge range of topics, and he speaks to airplane enthusiasts, disgruntled travelers, extreme aerophobes, and the merely curious, addressing everything from security concerns to economy-class seating woes with optimism and humor.”

– Air & Space Smithsonian


“Trenchant and insightful.”

– Joe Sharkey, The New York Times


“What a pleasure it is reading Patrick Smith’s surprisingly elegant explanations and commentary. The world needs somebody writing E.B. White simple and sensible about a topic everyone has a question about.”

– Berke Breathed, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of “Bloom County” and “Opus”


“Patrick has the ability to answer my questions even before they occur to me. And even those that don’t occur to me. Who knew that the airlines could be so interesting?”

– Rob Neyer, author and former ESPN columnist


“As comfortable debunking myths and misconceptions as he is talking about the really important stuff: airline logos and liveries!”

– Peter Hughes, bassist, The Mountain Goats


“I’ve known Patrick Smith since the 1980s. He was always a secretly very talented and funny writer, but steadfastly resisted my encouragement. Today he’s the greatest columnist on the Internet, so he owes me one.”

– Joshua Glenn, editor of and philosopher-at-large




“As a frequent international flyer I find your column to be the most rational, reassuring and insightful source of information on the aviation business anywhere.”

“Your clear explanations have done a lot to educate the non-flying public and for that a hearty thanks. I also am impressed with your writing in general; it can be poetic, thoughtful and compelling.”

“You write beautifully and fearlessly. I have never, ever had an interest in aviation until I started reading your column. Now I’m reading five of your posts a day.”

“As I got older and started to travel more, I started to develop a fear of flying. What I was collecting in my sub-conscious were the various myths that many people subscribe to. Ask the Pilot not only cured those myths, but it made me feel more pragmatic and relaxed about air travel. I’m now back to enjoying the experience. I love the column and remain a dedicated reader.”

“Patrick Smith is the best thing on Salon. I’m not particularly interested in aviation, but I always read Ask the Pilot for the great writing.”

“First, let me tell you how much I have enjoyed your work over the years. You have such a wonderful way of explaining potentially boring subjects with a zest and gusto that is rare these days. You are among my favorite writers today.”

“I look forward to your column every week. I never thought that I was that interested in airplanes or the airline business until I discovered Ask The Pilot, and now I read it religiously.”

“The only writer I’ve ever sent fan mail to is you. It’s embarrassing because I am a professional writer. I sit here, glued to my desk, and I read your column for inspiration when deadlines loom.”

“I congratulate you on your delightful Salon confections of opprobrium and humor. Keep it up. You are a treat.”

“Knowledge is power, and by sharing your expertise with us, you are educating us. My attitude toward air travel has changed since discovering your column, and I thank you.”

“I’ve been reading your column for a while now and quite enjoy your blend of insight and wry observation about aviation and human nature. I just re-read the column about your near mid-air collision over Nantucket. It really is a fantastic piece of writing. I can’t remember the last time I read something that so effectively crystalized a moment.”

“Salon has some of the best reporting and analysis articles to be found anywhere, but Ask the Pilot is in a class by itself. I haven’t found anything like it in terms of relevance, clarity and honest effort.”

“Patrick Smith’s sharp, tight language and singular voice make every column a delight to read. His recent account of a literal and figurative near-miss in the air over Nantucket was sublime. The beauty of this piece (and all of Smith’s work, really) is that he is able to step outside his experience to watch it as a spectator, inviting the reader to stand beside him.”

“Just beautiful work.”

“Your column is strangely addictive. I travel a lot, and I actually find myself looking forward to going to the airport after having read your latest.”

“I have read your column on Salon for years and you actually cured my fear of flying. I probably would have had to pay thousands in therapy what you just gave me for free ”

“It’s impossible to calculate or put a dollar value on the peace of mind that you have brought to me. It’s made a very real (and very large) difference to my job and my life.”

“Today’s column was one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read in a long, long time.”

“I frankly knew little and cared less about aviation until I began reading your work. Now I’m less ignorant and significantly more entertained.”

“Your writing is superb: witty, modest, and engaging all at the same time.”

“Since childhood, I’ve had a fear of flying, which was exacerbated when my mother died in a plane crash. I’ve gotten better over the years, but it’s been your column that’s taken me the final step. Last week I flew without any medicinal assistance. That might not seem like a lot, but that’s the first time I’ve done so since my mother died.”

“Keep up the good work. It’s a very smart, informative, fascinating read, and I’m addicted to it.”

“I’ve enjoyed your columns not only for their content, but for your stylish, articulate presentation of the subject matter.”

“I rarely fly and I only cared peripherally about airplanes. That is, until I accidentally read your column. Now, I’m hooked.”

“I’ve been reading your series from the beginning and have been consistently slack-jawed with amazement at your writing.”

“Thanks for a compelling and well-written series of articles.”

“I just wanted to let the powers-that-be at Salon: the ‘Ask the Pilot’ series of articles is the best series I’ve ever read at your site.”

“I want you to know that your column is the only thing on the internet that I am devoted to reading.”

“Your columns have spoken more clearly, and with more devotion and passion to these matters than any I have ever read.”

“Aside from being wildly intriguing and equally as informative, your writing is quite a joy to retreat to in passing moments of ennui. I began reading your columns last February, and I’ve looked forward to every installment since.”

“You fly for a living, I write and edit for a living, and you write damned well if I may say so.”

“I read your column every week, and I have to say, you are a very eloquent writer. I find your column amusing, informing, and quite a pleasure to read.”

“First, let me applaud you for a wonderful, must-read column, and applaud Salon for having the creativity and good taste to run it!”

“Please accept my thanks for your column in I confess to be a former regular reader of the site who left shortly after Camille Paglia stopped writing,

“You are doing the general public a great service.”

“I rarely fly but always make a point to read your column because I love the way you write.”

“You are an astonishingly good writer. (And God bless Salon’s editors for having the sense to leave your prose alone).”

“I look forward to your next article more than I look forward to anything else on the Internet.”

“I’m not an airplane or flying enthusiast by even the broadest stretch of the imagination, but I’ve found your column consistently engaging, informative, frequently hilarious, and often moving.”

“I finally have to email you to tell you how much I respect your writing. Among other things, I write for a living, and it’s a joy to read your columns. Your writing is elegant and lyrical and engaging. I couldn’t ask for more.”

“I’ll just say it one more time: I can’t believe how much I find myself enjoying an aviation column.”

“I’m one of what I suspect is a growing number of Ask the Pilot junkies. Every Friday evening at the dinner table I’m treated to the sight of my wife and kids’ eyes glazing over as I explain the latest airline-related minutiae that I picked up from the column.”

“Thanks for your articles. I had no idea I was at all interested in commercial aviation until I stumbled across your column last year.”

“I love your writing and I love how you don’t pull punches. Fresh candor. Nice work, man – I hope Salon stays afloat and you’re one of the reasons.”

“Your column is one of the best-written, most hilarious and informative columns I’ve ever read. I use it as a little treat to get me through the last crappy workday of the week. It’s always thought-provoking and often has me laughing hysterically.”

“Patrick Smith’s writing about aviation is the best I have ever seen.”

“Like Zen and the Art of Archery, it almost doesn’t matter what specialized or obscure corner of the human experience one takes as their starting point. Because you’re a good writer, you’ve brought more to your column than a mere discussion of technical details or esoteric trivia. I enjoy reading it even though I rarely fly.”

“I seldom fly, but your columns have always been interesting and entertaining. I find they have taken on a much deeper significance as political and social commentary.”

“It’s strange – I never thought I’d be addicted to a column such as yours, but I am. You are an awfully good writer to make such a subject so appealing to lay readers.”

“I work in Seattle for Boeing. Your columns have given me more appreciation for the planes I help build than my job has.”

“A little international sightseeing, a pinch of intelligent, non-politically correct commentary, and just the right amount of humor… well, it’s perfect. Thank you.”

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