I was walking into a bookstore (enslaved as I am) looking one or more interesting books. I bought two! In this book review I will discuss one of them, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ by Rudi Dekkers. This book was published in Dutch in 2008. In the English language, he published in 2011 the book ‘Guilty by Association’. I have not read the Englisch version because of a chronic lack of time! Guilty by association is qua structure a little bit different from the ‘The Flying Dutchman’, but the moral of the two books is obviously the same.
‘The Flying Dutchman’ is an autobiographical book in the I-form and it focuses on the attack on 9/11/2001. Rudi started his story about the first years of his upbringing, where he lived, that home was not always pleasant and it was far from wealthy. It is clear that Rudy had to fight in his youth but eventually that brought him further. He lived in Spain for a while but came back tot the Netherlands. Then he spent several years in The Netherlands and finally moved to the USA, Florida.
Rudi is a born businessman and entrepreneur above. He was -and still is – an intelligent creator of concepts that generated income. He did projects in real estate, trading of computer components and finally the establishment of his flying schools, airliner, commercial swimming pools and mobile phones. I take from his book that he is a creative survivor. He had a very creative idea for pilots to lure them to his station at the airport. For each x-amount of fuel they tanked they could drive in his Viper sports car. The idea worked! In the Netherlands we think we are creative if you organize that one of 10 landingfees is for free (I’am not complaining at all!). Are the airport authorities in the Netherlands reading with us?! And so Rudy thought out more gadgets for business to take place and flourish. He writes all this very interesting and rational.
The book tells the story of his business and unfortunately the meeting with some of the terrorists who committed the attacks on 9/11. He tells how on a sunny day two Arab men – Mohamed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi, came along to see if they wanted to take lessons at the flight school of Rudi Dekker. From here he tells how these two guests acted in the school, to people and how they coped with the lessons and planes.
Then these two men committed the attacks in New York that are still burned into our memory. Rudi tells how he heard of the attacks and how these events then put his life completely upside-down. The often-negative media attention for Rudi and his company, in particular the obstructive and failing U.S. governments (embarrassing!) ensured that customers eventually ran away and stayed away. His whole image was in spite of all his openness towards the press completely damaged. Eventually he had to sell his flying school and his wife divorced from him.
The book was written in collaboration with two Dutch journalists. It is easy to read the book and when I started I could not stop. Because Rudi had a passion for flying, I noticed along the way reading the book, that I strongly identified with him and the way he moves through life; hard worker, smart, sober, and above all the urge to do the unthinkable to achieve something in life. You can read between the lines some kind of ‘golden age’-mentality (17th century in the Netherlands) of someone who wants to get everything out of life. I write nothing about the content because that makes reading the book less surprising. My wife also read the book so I had to miss our empathic discussions for a few days.
See www.rudidekkers.com and www.youtube.com for interviews and interesting background information. What is particularly intriguing is the fact that both Rudi Dekkers and also another Dutch flight school owner, named Arne Kruithof had a plane crash. Also the flying school of Arne Kruithof trained one of the terrorists!