Peter Buffington – Squawk 7700

Peter Buffington asked me to review his aviation autobiography Squawk 7700. Though I did fly a couple of times from The Netherlands to the UK, US, Israel, Greece and India, and had one parachute jump in Hoogeveen (Netherlands), I’m not in the aviation business whatsoever. Buffington’s story begins with childhood dreams, supportive parents and countless hurdles to be met in order to become a ATR42 en ATR72 turboprop pilot in the Caribbean. The regional airline’s hiring practices, corner-cutting, and Pay-For-Training, housing troubles and the career path to become a pilot all are exposed to Buffington’s experiences and critics.

From student pilot at age 15, to flying instructor, to nighttime cargo pilot, and his first day in 1998 with Captain Carlos on ATR42’s takes 160 pages.  The author has a high moral standard, wants to comply with all company procedures and faces all the failures made in daily life of pilots, aviation companies. But, unlike  the attractive cover and endorsements, it’s crazy to discover that  a second terrible day with Captain Carlos, that doesn’t give a damn about  safety. As the reader can expect at this point of the book, the Director of Safety nor the Chief Pilot believe Peter. Company culture and senior employees are protected. And so, his one and only airline job lasted for no more than 1 week. A rough wake-up from a dream.

Peter began writing the first edition of Squawk 7700 in October of 2000, completion was in May of 2001. 10 years later a second edition was published to tell the truth about the aviation industry. And here, age and a lack of social skills take their toll. As any youngest officer / employee / worker can tell you, it’s very important to learn the tricks of the trade, to endure and master your skills and become a team player in order to survive and excel. And yes, at age 23, you think you know better than anyone else around and you’re the one that can make the world a better place. No, you can’t tell the truth about the whole aviation industry solely based on your own personal experiences.  And yes, the world’s a cruel place sometimes.

Huffington is no professional writer, his book is too lengthy and takes you along detailed conversations, meals and travels that aren’t interesting and necessary to bring the message and keep me engaged.