Newly published is “Prairie Sky,” a new book that explores “the reality as well as the metaphor of flight: Notions of ceaseless time and boundless space, personal interior and exterior vision, social history, meteorology, and geology,” according to the publisher.
While the northern prairie may call to mind images of golden harvests and summer twilight such images do not define the region. The land bears marks left by gut-shaking thunderstorms, hard-frozen rivers, sweeping floods, and hurricane-size storms. Olsen takes to the midwestern sky to confront the ordinary world and reveals the magic — the wondrous and unique sights visible from the pilot’s seat of a Cessna.
“It’s almost like ballet,” Olsen says in the book. “Preflight. Starting. Warmup. The voices from the control tower–the instructions. Taxiing. The rush down the runway. Airborne. There are names for every move. The run-up. Position and hold. Every move needs to be learned, practiced, made so familiar you feel the patterns in every other thing you do. It’s technical, yes. But there is a grace to getting metal and bone into the sky.”
Olsen teaches at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he also edits the literary magazineAscent. He is the author of numerous books, including Never Land: Adventures, Wonder, and One World Record in a Very Small Plane and Hard Air: Adventures from the Edge of Flying.
The 176-page paperback is available for $19.95 from the University of Missouri Press.