Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Beth Ruggiero York Interview - Flying Alone: A Memoir

Photo Content from Beth Ruggiero York

Beth Ruggiero York is the author of Flying Alone: A Memoir. She is a former airline pilot for Trans World Airlines. She entered the world of civil aviation in 1984 shortly after graduating from college and, for the next five years, climbed the ladder to her ultimate goal of flying for a major airline. Beth originally wrote Flying Alone in the early 1990s, shortly after her career as a pilot ended and the memories were fresh. She is now a Chinese translator and a professional photography instructor for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes. She has published a popular instructional book on night photography, Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, which has worldwide sales, and she has co-written a book entitled, Everglades National Park: A Photographic Destination. Beth and her husband live in Fountain Hills, AZ.

What inspired you to write FLYING ALONE: A MEMOIR?
After my turbulent career in aviation ended abruptly when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I had time to reflect on the events of those years. It was so plain to see that I needed to write it all down, both for myself and to show others that they, too, can surmount difficult times.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
My husband has been the impetus for me to finally publish Flying Alone. After I had written it in the early 1990s, I put the manuscript aside, knowing that there would be a time in the future to publish it. Over the past five years, my husband repeatedly encouraged me to revisit it. If not for him, I’m not sure it would be published yet.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
As a matter of fact, I received an email from a reader this morning that truly made it all worthwhile. He shared a common history with me at the airport where I learned to fly, except that he was a generation before me. In his email, he wrote “…I loved every minute of reading your story. You are one helluva writer - could not put the book down. I wish I could go back to those days at [Beverly Airport] but, as you must know, those days are gone. Thank you for an unforgettable trip down memory lane.”

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your memoir?
My hope is that the ultimate message received is never to give up even when it just doesn’t seem worth the effort anymore. Don’t ever plant the seeds for later regrets.

What part of your life did you enjoy writing the most?
The many crazy flights I had while I was a pilot were the most enjoyable to recount. Even for me, it was heart-pumping at times to recount these stories. Looking back at it objectively after all these years, I’m even more surprised.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
My first employer in the aviation world, Rod Goreham, was rough and brusque, but he was lovable, nonetheless. My warmest memories of those years are of Rod, and I would like to have introduced him to his guardian angel as depicted in Richard Bach’s Life with My Guardian Angel. Now that I’ve said that, I realize that Rod may have already been well-acquainted with his Guardian Angel after being shot down over Germany during World War II and returning home alive.

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
I’ve always been self-conscious, so from the time I was about 12 years old, I haven’t worn Halloween costumes!

What did you do for your last birthday?
Well, for the past few birthdays, including the last one, I have been teaching a photography workshop. My birthday is in April, and the busy season for photography instructors in Arizona includes that month. Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t celebrate it with my husband and friends for a nice dinner afterwards!

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
A quarter moon (appearing in the sky as a half moon), it sheds only 9% of the light that it does when it is full.

Where did you go on your first airplane ride? 
That relates directly to my book, Flying Alone! I flew alone for the first time on a TWA flight from JFK Airport to Denver.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
China. I’ve been there more times than I can count, but it holds a special place in my heart.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Hands down, everyone should experience seeing the Northern Lights.

“These were my first impressions of the world of aviation—Rod, bottles of Canadian whiskey, working the line... and my flight instructor, Steve. I had started as official lineperson at New England Flyers on April 27, 1985, my twenty-third birthday, four months into flying lessons with Steve for my private license. Aviation had already swallowed me whole.”

“I could have cried when my wheels touched the runway but saved it for the hotel room. The only obstacle now was to taxi back to the ramp without the engines dying. The only loss there would be of face, and after the night I’d had, that would be nothing.”

“How poignantly fatal the sky can be. Not giving it due respect, though, we continued to tempt fate, never knowing the terror felt by the unlucky ones before their deaths.”

“I could see it. The runway appeared to be broken up. I aborted the landing and went in for a low pass to check it more closely. It was difficult to make out, but as we approached, it became clear. The runway was torn up, bulldozed into hundreds of slabs of asphalt.”

“Ten minutes later, he was sound asleep next to me in the single bed; I lay facing the window with little hope for the same. The clouds of the day had cleared, and an almost full moon shed light in the little room. ”

“At fifty miles out, I was tense. I had never seen the fuel gauges in any airplane go down this far, and because they were no more detailed than the fuel gauge in my car, there was no telling how much was left.”

“Thunderstorms are green. There is no mistaking it, even at night. When the color of the sky around you takes on that green cast, calm air soon ends with a loud bang.”

“And when the fire had stopped, only rubble remained. Pieces of aircraft were strewn from one side of the street to the other along with half-burned bundles of the Investor’s Daily newspapers and cancelled checks he was carrying…and Peter’s unrecognizable body wedged between the burned-out shells of two cars. ”

“I hung onto his words. They reassured me we were still together. Even though I had moved out, it was not because we had broken up. I was still clinging to the relationship.”

“…together we looked at the Navajo’s nosewheel just inches short of the end of the pavement. The only sound in the dark was our breathing, heavy with fear. For several minutes, we stood in the snow, silent and numb.”

At thirteen years old, Elizabeth Ruggiero’s heart was broken when her father died suddenly. But there was a bigger challenge ahead when doctors told her she probably had multiple sclerosis at 22 years old. Elizabeth vowed that this new challenge would not put restrictions on her life and embarked on a lifelong dream to fly for the airlines. Starting at the small local airport, the aviation world swallowed her whole, and the next five years of her life were as turbulent as an airplane in a thunderstorm, never knowing when, how or if she would emerge. An agonizing love affair with her flight instructor, dangerous risks in the sky and flying broken airplanes for shady companies all intertwined to define her road to the airlines. Elizabeth made it to her goal and was hired by Trans World Airlines in 1989. Flying Alone is told with soul-baring candor, taking readers on a suspenseful journey through the terror, romance and ultimate victory of those ye
You can purchase Flying Alone: A Memoir at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you BETH RUGGIERO YORK for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Flying Alone: A Memoir by Beth Ruggiero York.


  1. I believe I flew to California to my grandmother's.

  2. My mom who was a stewardess for forty years took us to Europe.

  3. Hello Beth Ruggiero York , you are truly a all rounder. may God bless you. clipping path

  4. This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing this info.
    Ryo Hazuki Jacket