CHUCK SASSARA'S ALASKA: PROPELLERS, POLITICS & PEOPLE -- a vivid account of Alaska flying and politics by the longtime pilot and former state legislator
Chuck Sassara's Alaska: Propellers, Politics & People by Chuck Sassara (2015 Constant Drummer Publishing Co.; 174 pages)
Chuck Sassara’s story, as told in his rousing memoir, “Chuck Sassara’s Alaska: Propellers, Politics & People,” is a story of a life lived large and wide. It’s the story of an adventurer and pilot-turned politician, whose aviation career spanned from the early 1950s to 2013, connecting him with hundreds of colorful characters and an equal number of extraordinary life experiences.
The book is first and foremost a pilot’s memoir, with the lion’s share of it given over to his love of airplanes, and stories about flying. There is even a glossary at the end of the book detailing the more than 150 types of aircraft he flew over the course of his piloting career.
But what sticks with the reader are the people that fly in and out of the book, from the obscure to the well-known – other pilots, mostly -- outsized characters like the perpetually-down-on-his-luck Jimmy Burns, Earthquake John McBride, or Larry “One-Way” Thompson (so monikered because of his habit of crashing his planes before making a return trip). The better-known include former territorial Governor and U.S. Senator Ernest Gruening, and the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, with whom Sassara served in the Alaska legislature in the 1960s. While the two were from opposing parties, they became close friends.
While this is a self-published book, it’s well-edited, and the down-home style of the author’s writing is part of its charm. Sassara’s descriptions are colorful, unvarnished, and funny. “Chapters of the book are like tales told over beers,” wrote one reviewer from The Alaska Dispatch-News. It’s an apt description.
For aviation fans, or anyone interested in Alaska’s aviation and political history, this book is a must.
Find this title in our catalog: Chuck Sassara's Alaska
Recommended by: Greg