Sunday, August 21, 2022

Review The Airplanes and The King

Halfway 2021 Robert van Beek approached Erik Lorentzen with the idea to do an English version of Carlos Verranti’s ‘Los Aviones Y El Rey’ book. 

Lorentzen agreed, on the condition that it would be done in the style of his “Elvis Files” books. This meant blowing up a 200-page to a 400-page book. 

The question remains, “does size matter”? 




Over the last 15 years most Elvis fans reading this review have either seen, read or bought one of Lorentzen’s many Elvis Presley books, and know what an “Elvis Files” style book looks like. This edition of Verranti’s original will fit in nicely with the other KJ Consulting books you may have in your collection. 


But it is also nice to see that some of the original design-elements of the original - which had a fresh design that fitted nicely with the theme of the book - found a place in this re-issue. 

The cover, the schematic drawings of the planes, the use and presentation of photos and other paperwork, but also little details like plane icons on each page. This book doesn’t suffer from the unnecessary design elements featured in some of this publisher’s other books, I  think it is one of the better designed books from this publisher.

O.K., there are a few little design-flaws as pictures used in the original are presented with a frame, and many of the new pictures aren’t, so you can spot some of the additions quickly, but the many additional pictures make up for that. Besides this, I didn’t spot any other major errors. 




The combination of “Elvis” and “airplanes” may not be of every fan’s interest, but the two come together instantly when I write the words “The Lisa Marie” or “The Hound Dog II”. So there is some logic to write about these subjects. 

In my review of the first edition of this book I complimented the author for his in-depth research and even more for succeeding to present the vast amount of technical and logistical information in the proper historical context and at the same time offering an entertaining read. 


Reading this “upgrade” the original conclusion still stands and the additions add extra context to the story. Where the original book took us from plane to plane and from airfield to airport, this edition also takes the reader to the actual destinations like concerts, movie locations and so on. Completing the picture with many new narratives, details and (background) illustrations.  


Also added - and more easily readable in English - are the many stories of Elvis “on the road”, or should I say “in the air”. I never realized that his fear of flying, after incidents in 1956 and 1971, contributed to the ambition to own his own plane(s) and crew he could rely on. And perhaps is also helped that in between he played the role of a pilot in the movies ‘It Happened at the World's Fair’ and ‘Paradise, Hawaiian Style’, earning his “Hollywood Wings”.


Oh God, thy sky is so great, and my plane is so small!” - Elvis Presley


Being Dutch, I enjoyed reading that Elvis even flew a Fairchild 228, originally a Dutch a Fokker 28 and a Fokker F27 Friendship in 1971. There are more links to Holland than that Colonel.


On a critical note, fulfilling Lorentzen’s demand that this book should be an “Elvis Files” book, part of the additional content can be considered extra (unnecessary) luggage. Flying to a movie-set or concert the not all additional promotional images or shots of Elvis on stage are necessary. The same goes for re-printing the letter Elvis wrote to Nixon on his famous visit to the President on six pages. We’ve all seen those before. Moving the planes to Graceland in 1984 and showing a (great!) fifties image of Elvis in front of Graceland? 


You can argue that the book is very complete, and perhaps more better to read and comprehend as a stand-alone, but an appendix of screencaps of all footage of Elvis boarding planes or the evolution of airplanes integrated with the Elvis Presley timeline is stretching it too much for me. Here the format dictated the content.




Carlos Verranti stated that this is how he originally wanted to write the book. And I can understand it, presented like this, and thanks to Robert van Beek and Erik Lorentzen’s photo library, the book is (very) complete.


The authors must be complimented for their research and presenting the story of Elvis and (his) planes in meticulous detail. The expanded edition is an enjoyable read and a real upgrade from the original. So yes, size does matter as the extra content and illustrations show. 


This is a book that should have been written years ago, perhaps even by Graceland as the two planes opposite Elvis’ mansion are a real tourist attraction, but I’m glad it has been done now by someone who know what he’s writing about. I for one am glad that there is an English version documenting this part of the Elvis Presley story.


After books on Elvis cars, houses, movies, concerts, (girl)friends, horses and … this is the definitive record on The King and His Planes. 


Note: this review is an addition to the review of the original 2021 book >>> ‘Los Aviones Y El Rey’.

You can order it from Carlos Varrenti at his >>> Airplanes & The King website or though the >>> Elvis Files website