I was introduced to Ballard's writing by Empire of the Sun, another in the long list of great books I would never have discovered if they hadn't happened to have an aeroplane on the cover, and I was as hooked by the lucid, haunting prose as by the thrilling yarn. Then I moved on to his sci-fi, which isn't exceptional on the ideas front but is far better-written than 90% of the genre (or any other genre for that matter).
What I like most about his work, I think, is the way planes keep cropping up in it. Like Nevil Shute, he was so interested in aircraft that he was incapable of mentioning one, however incidental to the plot, without telling you exactly what kind it was.
A few years ago I went to a reading and signing for Millennium People. When I got my copy signed I asked the question I had been too shy to ask through a microphone in front of a bunch of people with serious, searching, academic questions: "What's your favourite aeroplane?"
It was the Tiger Moth.