The heatwave may be over but the wave of August out-of-office responses is still building, so rather than post about controversial redelivery conditions or the fascinating behaviour of interest rates, and prompted by the striking intersection of aviation and literature recently, we thought it seemed high time to offer Legal Flight Deck: The Summer Reading Edition. You’re welcome.

The major headline is that EasyJet has teamed up with the National Literacy Trust for its second year of summer ‘Flybraries’, which will see 17,500 books safely stowed in seat pockets on 296 of their aircraft throughout the season.  This initiative is prompted by research showing that 22% of parents report that it has been more than one year since their child went to a public library, and that most children in England do not read on a daily basis, amongst other worrying statistics.

This year’s programme ambassadors are Greg James and Chris Smith, the Radios 1 DJs responsible for the wildly popular Kid Normal books, which now feature on the reading list alongside classics including Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and The Story of Doctor Dolittle (and, interestingly, where a link to purchase these titles is provided online by EasyJet, the visitor is directed to the website of a small independent publisher rather than one of the larger book shop chains). Flying still has the ability to capture a modern child’s imagination in a way that other modes of transport arguably may no longer do, so it is cheering to see EasyJet and its partners using the opportunity presented by family holidays – and the undeniable advantage of having a literally captive audience! – to take the initiative and make a change.

This summer also marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, the high point of which has been the spectacular flypast over London on 10 July. As part of the celebration, Penguin has published the Centenary Collection, featuring ‘six classic books highlighting the skill, heroism and esprit de corps that have characterised the Royal Air Force throughout its first century’.  This is a collection of heart-stopping tales of danger and heroism, from Roald Dahl joining the RAF in 1938 to the account of a Chinook pilot in Afghanistan in 2006.

However, it does seem odd that, given that the fact that we are now in 2018 is so central to the exercise, the opportunity to note the contribution of women to the RAF either historically or now was not taken. This is a shame and seems out of step with the number of female engineers and other personnel we spoke to at the RAF Aircraft Tour at Horse Guards and saw in the parade during the celebrations. To balance this omission ever so slightly, July also saw the publication of ‘The Hurricane Girls’ by Jo Wheeler, which is a refreshing account of the female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, who flew various kinds of bombers and other aircraft in dangerous conditions to wherever the RAF needed them to be. This one should be high on the holiday reading list.

Finally, for our younger (and young at heart…) readers, the latest collaboration between author Teresa Heapy and illustrator David Litchfield – ‘The Spectaular City’ – came out last week. The second adventure of Mouse and Bear sees them leave the dark woods to explore the City, with misadventures culminating in a nail-biting rescue in a cleverly conjured paper plane. This beautiful picture book includes a handy guide to making paper planes in the back – perhaps one for the budding pilot or engineer in your family!

(Sources: https://literacytrust.org.uk/news/we-partner-easyjet-new-summer-reading-campaign/; https://mediacentre.easyjet.com/en/stories/11423-is-it-a-plane-is-it-a-library-no-its-a-flybrary-easyjets-book-club-lifts-off-to-get-children-hooked-on-a-book-this-summer; https://www.penguin.co.uk/search/?_charset_=UTF-8&q=the+centenary+collection )