Arts & Entertainment | June 18, 2015 9:00 am

Life Lessons from a Plane-crash Survivor

Of fathers, sons and future generations

By The Editors

Meet Norman Ollestad.

Norman is lifelong adventurer. It’s in his blood.

In 1979, when he was only 11, he was in a plane that crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains, killing his father, the pilot and another passenger.

Norman, the sole survivor, walked down the mountain afterwards, knuckles scrapped to the bone from scailing the icy mountain, but he kept his humanity intact.

Years later, he penned Crazy for the Storm, a book (also available on Audible) about his father — an avid adrenaline junky and the FBI agent who first exposed the darker side of J Edgar Hoover — and their tragic final hours together.

Norman’s new book, Gravity, chronicles his own journeys, as well as his desire to teach his son how to appreciate the natural wonders of a planet that’s sadly in decline.

It also makes a great Father’s Day gift.

We asked Norman what books he drew on for inspiration. Below, he comments on two of his favorites.

We encourage you to pass them on to your Old Man.

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean gripped me from the first line: ‘In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.’ Although my father was not a minister, as was Maclean’s, he drew upon surfing and skiing to illuminate for me, in a concrete sense, life’s essential principles and morals, the same way that Maclean’s father drew upon fly fishing to indoctrinate his sons.”

Solo Faces

“James Salter’s Solo Faces centers around Vernon Rand, a rock climber who, after years of hiding out, returns to the Alps. The silky ease of its poetic narrative transported me, thrillingly, onto cliff faces in the Alps and also into society parties where Rand’s life of adventure must contend with romantic love. It’s a wonderfully balanced adventure story that never loses its sense of reality.”

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Main image courtesy of Jeff Lipsky