The Last Pilot (Paperback)
July 2015 Indie Next List
“Filled with dialogue that cuts like a knife, The Last Pilot is a riveting time capsule of a novel that tells the gripping story of Jim Harrison, an Air Force test pilot working at NASA during the glory years of the 1950s. The dangers and magnitude of space exploration pale in comparison to Harrison's life-on-earth challenges -- including the death of his young daughter -- which haunt and threaten to destroy him. An emotionally raw, riveting read.”
— Susan Hans O'Connor, Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, PA
Winner of the Author's Club Best First Novel Award
A Finalist for the East Anglian Book Award for Fiction
"The Last Pilot made me cry and brought back all my old Right Stuff feels. A brilliant debut. I loved it."--Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk
Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, one of the exalted few. He spends his days cheating death in the skies above the Mojave Desert and his nights at his friend Pancho's bar, often with his wife, Grace. She and Harrison are secretly desperate for a child, and when, unexpectedly, Grace learns that she is pregnant, the two are overjoyed. America becomes swept up in the fervor of the Space Race, while Harrison turns his attention home to welcome his daughter, Florence, into the world. But as he and Grace confront thrills and challenges of parenthood, they are met with sudden tragedy.
The aftermath will haunt the Harrisons and strain their marriage, as Jim struggles to make life-and-death decisions under circumstances that are altogether new. Set against the backdrop of one of the most emotionally charged periods in American history, The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock is the mesmerizing story of a couple's crisis of faith--in themselves, and in each another--and the limits they test to rediscover it.
About the Author
BENJAMIN JOHNCOCK was born in England in 1978. His short stories have been published by The Fiction Desk and The Junket. He is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award, and is a winner of Comma Press's National Short Story Day competition. He also writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son.The Last Pilot is his first novel.