When I packed Flying High: Sexy Stories From the Mile High Club for my spring break trip to Los Angeles, I appreciated the irony but did not expect much. “How many ways are there to have sex on an airplane?” I thought to myself, looking around my mostly empty direct flight from Hartford’s tiny Bradley airport to LAX. In retrospect, what a stupid question to ask. When dealing with anthologies, especially superbly edited, diverse anthologies like Rachel Kramer Bussel’s, the issue is never “how many ways?” but “where is the limit?”
Themed anthologies run the risk of becoming repetitive, particularly when confined to a location. But Flying High pushes its theme into new territory, surpassing the classic bathroom quickie to explore the trysts of open air acrobats in Cheyenne Blue’s ‘Wing Walker,’ and the midflight threesome of a flight instructor and her two male students in Vanessa Vaughn’s ‘Bermuda Triangle.’ Other stories stay fresh with new plot twists like Bill Kte’pi’s ‘34B,’ in which Nancy arranges to meet a pen pal from the Internet on her flight and gets more than she bargained for (forgive the cliché but I don’t want to spoil it). Bussel’s ‘Urgent Message’ combines kink and technology to make sitting in coach far more than just tolerable.
One of the strongest inclusions is ‘Instrument Flight Rules’ by Zach Lindley, a stunning example of how short form erotica can still be character-driven. Pilot Dane Leonard is recovering from his divorce when he meets his female counterpart, Pilot Max Travis. Their sexual tension is touching and gorgeously done, and the story is far more emotionally affecting than I am used to finding in light-hearted erotic anthologies.
But my favorite story by far is Stan Kent’s ‘Aisle Seat.’ The plot is quintessential, sure. A man sits in aisle seat next to a beautiful woman and they have sex in the bathroom, their language barrier proving no radical challenge. But damn is this story lush in its description of both the characters and their mid-air antics. At several moments I had to put the book down, very aware that I was reading it in my boyfriend’s parents’ house. ‘Aisle Seat’ tormented me in a way I hadn’t experienced before, embedding itself in my brain and remaining a daydream as I write this review three weeks later. It pushed this anthology from great read to wait this might be my favorite anthology ever. And I don’t say that lightly as someone who has been reading erotica nonstop for eight months as thesis research.
So yes, I did learn a great deal about how to have sex on an airplane from Flying High. Blankets are your friends, never underestimate the kinkiness of the airline staff, and don’t be afraid of passing encounters with delicious strangers. Unfortunately for me, the time difference between Connecticut and Los Angeles ensured I never got to put any of my newfound knowledge to use: I spent my redeye home passed out against my boyfriend’s shoulder.
Definitely pick up a copy of Flying High: Sexy Stories From the Mile High Club here regardless of your interest in smutty international travel. This anthology is for anyone who enjoys remarkable creativity in erotica.
That being said, the looks I got reading this mid-flight were an added bonus.