PAN AM flight 001 is a commercial flight around the world that can be booked with PAN AM and were by you are free to step off or on at any stop on the route. Very popular in the sixties and seventies of the last century. The author of this book bought a ticket for this flight after finishing his tour in Vietnam serving as a helicopter pilot flying the famous Bell Huey helicopter in combat. He experienced so many dramatic events during his tour that he wanted to overcome his troubled psyche before returning to the USA and his family.
With flashbacks to his often fearful and life threatening moments during his war period he describes his encounters with the local people in the different countries and towns during his flight around the world and his tries to share his traumas and uncertainties gained during his Vietnam tour with the reader. Jellerson sees this as a form of self healing reflection and tries to get peace with himself during his world tour by communicating with local people who treat him with respect and hospitality as much as possible.
During his Vietnam period things were different. Every single day his life was at stake because being a Huey pilot means direct and often deadly confrontations with the Vietcong and NVA when entering enemy territory. In his flashbacks he tells in a fascinating way about his tasks as a Huey pilot and his missions transporting soldiers and wounded and dead to and from the frontier.
His primary mission is to transport troops to and from the front and being standby to pick the wounded and the death. Every mission can be his last as the Huey is a popular target for the Vietcong. Many colleagues were killed and he accepted his possible death as a fact. In a later stage in his tour his was assigned as the personal pilot of his commanding general which was not so dangerous but also eventful.
Again and again during his world trip his tries to discover the positive face of the human beings he meets because he has problems processing the terrible events he experienced. At the end of his trip and also in the book he succeeds and he gets in peace with him self and becomes a successful film and art director.
The part in the book in with he tells us about his missions are very thrilling but also his description of the slow and difficult road back to a normal human functioning person is fascinating. In fact the book is half an emotional description of what war can do with a person and half telling us about the dangerous life of a helicopter pilot in war time.
It is not very thick (121 pages) and provided with a limited amount of photos and copies of recommendation letters of his boss but interesting to read because Jellerson is not overloading his readers with too much personal reflections.