Up In The Air; The Max Ward Story

NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW  

571 words

Title: Up In The Air; The Max Ward Story;  by Max Ward; 
Publisher, McClelland & Stewart; 368 pages; hardcover; $29.95. 

Reviewer: A. T. Connellan, "Does he qualify as one of our heroes? 
I don't know, you read the book and decide. I do know that Max 
Ward has his heroes, he named his airplanes after them, and 
that tells you a lot about Max Ward." 

Max Ward in his own write

We Canadians tend to see our heroes as wheelchair bound, on 
one leg, or otherwise physically disadvantaged. Martyrs and 
medical discoverers are acceptable, as are some politicians. 

There is however one category who almost never receives 
their due, the heroes of industry and commerce. In common with 
other heroes they have reached the pinnacle. Their path to 
success is marked not so much by extraordinary intelligence as it is 
by a degree of determination that can only be labelled stubbornness. 
To a man/woman they have never learned how to quit. 

Into this august group comes Maxwell William Ward of Edmonton 
Alberta. Among the many definitions of success "It's the journey, 
not the destination" is perhaps the most apt in Ward's case. When 
the sale of Wardair to PWA was completed in May'89 Ward had 
built Wardair into one of the finest international airlines in the 
world, superior in many respects to Canada's other two airlines. 
        
So much for the destination! This book takes us on the journey. 
Most autobiographies tend to be outrageously self-serving, in 
contrast Ward tells his story in a straightforward chronological 
manner. His heart is clearly on his sleeve, and in many instances 
his tongue is firmly in his cheek (how else, one wonders, could he 
have endured interfering politicians and mindless bureaucrats 
who sometimes populated the path?). 
        
Those of you who are pilots will find particular enjoyment in Ward's 
tales of his early days in the north. The axiom "there are old pilots 
and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots," you will 
agree was re-defined by Ward and as with all the good bush pilots 
he "Flew with an angel on his shoulder," some of the incidents had 
me shaking my head in wonder.

Non-pilots will be treated to a primer in northern flying and the 
aircraft that opened the north together with their idiosyncrasies. Few 
Southerners have an understanding of the arctic and this book will 
open more than a few eyes.
        
Government intrusion, intervention, and interference are familiar to 
all of us. In some cases, rules and regulations make sense in others, 
like the air industry, many of the rules are meaningless and represent 
an unnecessary restraint on growth.

This hurts our competitive position internationally, and nowhere is this 
more apparent than in the air industry. 
        
In spite of this Max Ward triumphed, Wardair grew, but how much greater 
could his success have been without the handicap of unnecessary 
government harassment? While this was going on the Industrial 
Development Bank was financing the growth of the company in its 
early years.
        
Overall Ward's story is a "good read," well written and entertaining, 
full of anecdotes about a wide assortment of characters including
royalty, trappers, miners, mounties, and always a legion of fellow 
workers who shared with Max Ward the vision that became Wardair. 

There was a spirit in the company that set it apart from its competition, 
an un-canadian elan that appealed to the airline's staff, customers, 
and the public at large in Canada and abroad, and the glue that held 
it all together was Maxwell William Ward of Edmonton Alberta.
        
Does he qualify as one of our heroes? I don't know, you read the book 
and decide. I do know that Max Ward has his heroes, he named his 
airplanes after them, and that tells you a lot about Max Ward. 


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