Up In The Air; The Max Ward Story
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
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
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.
Back to Non Fiction Book Reviews index
Back to Home page