Flying on the Edge – Bernie Haskell

Review by Andy Wright.

New Zealand agricultural pilots are the stuff of legend. The country’s farming prowess owes much to a relatively small group of determined and pioneering, albeit slightly mad, aviators.

As yields increased demand for more aircraft with ever-improving performance grew. Pacific Aerospace Corporation developed the Cresco in response. It is a name synonymous with Kiwi aviation. Bernie Haskell’s business, JetSpread, was the first to operate this capable type.

This book is a series of chronological tales of adventure and misadventure over the twenty-plus years the author flew as an ag pilot. He mixes a good dose of extreme flying with large measures of humour and hi-jinks and spreads it throughout this 326-page paperback.

The author mainly flew during the less regulated 1970s and 1980s when communications weren’t so instant. More risqué escapades could go unnoticed and the author, always one to accept a challenge, use initiative, or right a wrong, certainly took advantage of the opportunities presented. His time in Egypt is one of impressive productivity despite intense frustration, apparent cultural absurdities, and opportunities taken! He displays an uncanny sixth sense for things that are awry, both in flying and recreation (one often enabling the other), and it is this, along with his abilities as a pilot, that sees him safely through with little more than bumps, bruises, some ruined undies and a lot of laughter.

This is a highly entertaining read supported by amusing sketches created by the author. Some of the tales may not be for everyone, but they are there warts and all, and this book represents superb value for money.

ISBN 978-0-47329-380-2

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