View Full Version : Fate is the hunter

30th Aug 2005, 14:01
Who wrote "Fate is the Hunter"?

Heard it is a great read but cannot remember who the author is.

Is it still in print?

Thanks in advance


30th Aug 2005, 14:04


10 seconds on Google!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

30th Aug 2005, 14:07
Ahhh, Google. Yes well spotted with my regard to my not so deliberate mistake.
However, ppruning is so much more fun!!

Thanks anyhow

Biggles Flies Undone
30th Aug 2005, 14:10
Quite right Wholi. I also remember that the opening chapter was pretty good too.

I read FITH back in the 80s and then read a lot more of Gann's books. His autobiography was an eye-opener as aviation was only a smallish part of his life. Most of his other books, however, I found a tad ordinary.

30th Aug 2005, 14:24
If you want to catch up on your aviation reading, try Antoine de Saint Exupery, except for 'The Little Prince.' 'Night Flight' and 'Wind, Sand and Stars' are wonderful.

Only read TLP if you are trying to make it with some girl whol eats muesli and wears sandals and you need to show your 'feminine side', but this is rarely worth the trouble in my experience. Even worse is listening to TLP on a cassette during a long car trip. I was forced to do that once, when I was found in a motorway public toilet trying to hang myself. They cut me down and forced me to continue the trip.

A lot of Gann's stuff can seem a bit formulaic once you get beyond the 'gee-whiz' stage of interest in aviation but St. Exupery's stays fresh. I think he puts a lot humanity into his work where Gann tends to stay with the nuts and bolts of flying.

30th Aug 2005, 14:28
FITH was a good read but as chuks says Gann gets a bit 'samey' in his other books.

Another essential addition to any bookshelf is 'Chickenhawk' by Robert Mason. I wore my first copy out and (never, ever do this people) loaned my second copy to someone. Never got it back.

30th Aug 2005, 14:36
If you liked Chickenhawk, try 'Low Level Hell', very good. Cant remember the author though.

Wore out TWO Chicken hawks.

'Bright Blue Yonder' good, 'Tail end Charlies' good. Both WWII heavy bomber stuff.

You want me to fly HOW many missions

High Wing Drifter
30th Aug 2005, 15:38
One I really enjoyed but seldom see mentioned is "Think Like a Bird" by Alex Kimbel. Its about his time in the Army Air Corps flying Austers and Beavers.

30th Aug 2005, 17:04
'Catch 22' is only about aviation in passing, but I would count it as a 'must read.'

'God is my Co-pilot' is one you might want to check out for a certain way of thinking that might have led to the way the USA is today. Written by a single-seat fighter pilot of a rather preachy disposition, of course...

Charles A. Lindbergh's wartime diaries make a good read, plus they give you an insight into how it was flying in the Forties in civil aircraft.

And Chuck Yeager's autobiography is another fascinating look at a military mind. He seems never to have bombed or strafed any civilians during his time in Viet Nam if I remember what I read correctly.

And for anyone working as a pilot in Africa the definitive book, to my mind, is Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Okay, he was a riverboat pilot rather than an airplane pilot but otherwise, he nails the scene dead centre.

All of you Brits should be required to read 'Samuel Franklin Cody, Pioneer of the Air.' The first man to fly in Great Britain was a Septic! It is out of print, unfortunately, but I have a copy I guard most jealously.

30th Aug 2005, 17:21
Do you *really* mean sceptic, or are you saying he's full of pus.

that post better be perfect

and NO it wasn't

Solid Rust Twotter
30th Aug 2005, 17:46
Septic tank = Yank

30th Aug 2005, 17:52
ahh.. gotcha

Knew a smart arse post would backfire.. took two bloody goes to type it.

30th Aug 2005, 18:29
FITH sure means something different where I come from.

F**ked in the head.

30th Aug 2005, 19:43
And Chuck Yeager's autobiography is another fascinating look at a military mind
What? You mean they're all that conceited? :*

Lon More
30th Aug 2005, 19:54
The late Len Morgan's columns in "Flying" were a must-read.

His daughter was selling a lot of his library on eBay - got a few good books that way.

30th Aug 2005, 22:00
What? You mean they're all that conceited?

I thought that too. Half way through his autobiography I put it down and subsequently threw it away. So far up his own arse you can just see the soles of his boots.

30th Aug 2005, 23:18
"Terror in the Starboard Seat" is a splendid account of flying plywood airplanes into combat.....Mosquito flying during WWII. Richard Bach does some good writing about aviation....but one must be a thinker to catch on to what he is saying thus not very well understood. Gann is a must for an aviator.....but I reckon people who merely earn a living flying between tea rooms fail to appreciate what he talks about.:E

30th Aug 2005, 23:22
'The Shepherd' - By Frederick Forsyth is an excellent short story. Took less than an hour to read, couldnt put it down.

Lost my copy to a 'flying chum', just ordered another one on Amazon.


31st Aug 2005, 02:03
Fate is the Hunter must have put thousands of people onto pursuing flying careers. It nearly did so for me and I held EKG in the highest regard for most of a lifetime. Until, upon sliding into Pprune some five or six years ago, someone suggested reading a few of his sailing books.

Slightly less iggerant of sailing than of piloting, I did so via Amazon. To my everlasting dismay. In the two-dimensional world of boats he was suicidal and very fortunate - as were his crew - to have survived to write or talk about it.

So, for a good counterpoint to "Fate is the Hunter", try "Song of the Sirens".

31st Aug 2005, 06:46
What can be interesting is to read stuff by or about our aviation heroes, when we seen the man behind the legend. After all, we are people first and aviators second, well, most of us!

When you read Yeager's book you see him clawing his way out of dirt-poor West Virginia (I think it was), haunted by the idea of one big screw-up terminating his military career and landing him back there hoeing turnips.

The Air Force guys I used to work with had a saying that you could collect ten 'Attaboy!'s to get one 'Pat on the back.' Ten of those earned you one 'Go get 'em!' But one 'Aw sh1t!' cancelled out the lot. So it goes with a military career, seemingly. The killing is not the big deal it might seem to a civilian, compared to walking the narrow line between being judged unenterprising or else screwing up to the point where you end up a runway inspector in Alaska.

Yeager could face a swarm of enemy aircraft or fly the X1 into a regime that was full of risk without any particularly great fear, but an interview with his CO shows him trembling in his boots. What in the world? So I found that very interesting indeed.

A character who shows up in Yeager's book, 'Pancho' Barnes, features in another book worth reading. She kept a rather bawdy establishment on the edge of the big test base out in the Mojave, what is now Edwards Air Force Base but first she had various adventures in Mexico, hence the nickname.

When I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina I used to haunt a used book store. I found all sorts of interesting 'how to fly' books from the Thirties there. One has you initiating a turn by stomping on a rudder pedal and then using the ailerons to 'balance the turn'. `The ball goes shooting off to one side or the other and then you tilt the aircraft over with the stick until it rolls back to the middle. Try that on your next simulator check, why don't you? And when it comes to instrument flying, the way to intercept and track a radio range signal has to be seen to be believed; when it comes to SA we have nothing to do compared to those guys.

The Thirties is, to me, one of the most interesting periods in aviation to read about. You had the Zeppelins, the barnstormers, the rapid development of the airlines and the military...

All sorts of characters would pop up then to present themselves as heroes of the sky to a rather gullible public. They have left behind some pretty amusing stuff to read. 'Colonel' Roscoe Turner used to share his cockpit with a lion cub, just to get noticed, which worked. 'The Black Eagle of Harlem' became The Ethiopian Air Force, until he crashed it during a parade. Amelia Earhart wrote most of a book about a trip around the world, complete with photos with totally non-PC captions.

I find it useful to have read a lot of this stuff when I am confronted by someone presenting me with the latest shrink-wrapped version of the one true way to fly. You can see here, on another forum, a rather energetic discussion of the relative value of hand-flying versus being a programming whiz on the FMS, not that these are mutually exclusive things. I just think back to some of the old-fashioned ways of doing things when I see people getting carried away with the newest, latest concepts, thinking to myself, 'Just wait...'

You know how some genius came up with the probability of a double flame-out being 9 decimal places to the right so that we could go trans-Atlantic on two without having to worry about all that stuff the pioneers had to cope with? So the next thing is some hair-raising glide down to a landing with a double flame-out! Uh-huh. As if to say that paying more attention to the history of aviation might hold some lessons for today.

In any case, trolling through the literature can be enjoyable, especially in the period when it was still a serious subject. For instance, William Faulkner wrote a novella, 'Pylon', that features aviation as its central theme plus a few aviation-based short stories. Today it's mostly just a subject for cheap paperbacks with embossed covers featuríng shallow thrills for chumps.

High Wing Drifter
31st Aug 2005, 07:23
I find it useful to have read a lot of this stuff when I am confronted by someone presenting me with the latest shrink-wrapped version of the one true way to fly.
I suspect, that anybody who hasn't read "Stick and Rudder" (Published 1944) will be suprised how relevant it is to the here and now, and possibly also how weakly the correct instincts are reinforced during training.

1st Sep 2005, 00:09
Chuks, it would be a harsh comment if his crew had been aware of the half-assed planning that had gone into what they supposed was to be a pleasure cruise.

Don't believe that was the case.

On the other hand he did write about it in his usual descriptive way and I suppose that in itself could be construed as a "mea culpa". Don't think he ever lost any crew so perhaps it's equivalent to "any landing you can walk away from". The risks were still suicidal and he got away with taking them.

As a result of this thread I'm reading FITH again!

1st Sep 2005, 06:56
I was referring to dissing our great hero Chuks Yeager, not EKG, but never mind.

As to that, if you have a crew then you have a moral obligation to spell out the risks involved in your planning so that they can either sign up or jump off the boat. It might be that old-fashioned guys just carry over the idea of the risks being their own business, how it was in the old days, when the idea of a full and free discussion, a la modern CRM, was abhorrent. You know, 'I am the Captain!'

There is a wonderful episode in a Norse epic when the crew are complaining about setting sail in a dragon ship with a rotten hull during the bad-weather season. The skipper answers that the ship is 'good enough for a doomed old man' and off they go, never to be seen again. Cool! That is the sort of man-management I like to see.

Since much of what we practice in aviation is derived from sea-faring a lot of the books about that are entertaining and useful, I think. The one referred to above is 'Heimskringla' by Snorri Sturlasson, one of the first novels ever writtten. You can get all sorts of useful ideas about how to resolve differences of opinion with your peers, for instance. Unfortunately, what with the growth in modern legislation and the cramped size of modern cockpits the use of a war axe is probably not a viable option today but still interesting to read about. A little charivari at the feasting table, a bit of chaffing and then, 'Whack!'

1st Sep 2005, 07:26
If you want conceited, read Sharkey Ward's book, "Sea Harrier over the Falklands".

Should be sub-titled "a good yarn spoiled".

Lon More
1st Sep 2005, 08:10
Interesting yarn aboutPancho Barnes (http://www.publicshelter.com/flygirls/prologue/pancho.html)

1st Sep 2005, 13:41
I was going to mention Sharkey earlier, but it always seems to start a row.

Have you read about the final voyage of Donald Crowhurst? Alarming stuff, going insane on a solo circ in a plywood boat.

1st Sep 2005, 14:02
'Beyond The Blue Horizon'
Written by Alexander Frater, an Australian, who had a 'thing' for flying boats and in the '70s or 80's repeated the journey from London to Sydney, going via as many of the old flying boat stations as possible and describing how life would have been during the flying boat era. I found it fascinating and hard to put down.

Out of print now but you should be able to get a copy here:


1st Sep 2005, 14:04
Must admit I've never heard of that book before (the thread-starting one) - have placed it on the Amazon wish list.

Chickenhawk also one of my favourites alongside Clostermann's Big Show and Geoffrey Wellum's First Light.

Cheers, SSS

Gordon Fraser
1st Sep 2005, 14:33
Brian Lecomber, the accomplished aerobatic and air show pilot, is also a very talented writer of aviation novels.
"Talkdown" is a gripping account of a girl in a 'Cherokee Arrow' being talked down by a flying instructor in a 'Chipmunk', over central England. The New York Times says "does for planes and pilots what Dick Francis novels do for horses and racing"
Other aviaition novels include "Turn Killer" of which the Sunday Mirror said - " It isn't often that a new writer jumps right to the top of his class, but former air circus stunt man Brian Lecomber does just that" and "Dead Weight" of which the NY Times says "- the flying sequences are terrific - the characters are well drawn - they don't come any better than this book"

Shaggy Sheep Driver
1st Sep 2005, 15:01
Another vote here for Lecomber, and also for 'Stick & Rudder' - every pilot should read that IMHO.

Richard Bach's 'A Gift of Wings' is the book that inspired me to fly. 'Stranger to the Ground' is excellent, as well Some of his later stuff is a bit wierd, but some is superb - try 'Running from Safety' (non aviation).

'F4 Phantom, a Pilot's Story' by Robert Prest, if you can find a copy, is a gem. Harald Penrose, Alex Henshawe..... I could go on and on.....

One thing about flying - it's not short of 'good reads'.


Huron Topp
1st Sep 2005, 19:09

'The Shepherd' - By Frederick Forsyth

if that is the one about the Vampire and ghost Mossie, I have to agree, great short story. The old man bought it for me when I was a wee lad.

As for Fate is the Hunter, a truly excellent book,

Richard Bach is a great writer. However, after Johnathan Livingston Seagull he got all "mystic". At times very, very hard to tell if he is just writing, or telling things as he sees them.

SASless: fantastic book was "Terror...". I have a signed copy BTW. If memory serves, canuck nav and Yank driver, right? Have a signed copy of another, in storage unfortunately, regarding flying Stringbags through Taranto during WWll( To War in a Stringbag, mayhaps??). Note to self, really must take better care of literature...

Edited. 'cause I was experimenting re. the Best Rhum thread...hehe:ok:

Edited again, after another 2 Captain Morgan dark and dirties, to include SASless's ref to Terror in the Starboard Seat.

5th Sep 2005, 04:30
Richard Bach (before his "mystic" phase) ....

Stranger to the Ground

Best ever.


5th Sep 2005, 06:39
G'day All,

Loved FITH, but as a "rotorhead" identified more with Chickenhawk and especially Low Level Hell by Hugh L Mills Jr. After what they did with Hughes 500s, I feel quite comfortable that they can take anything that we put them through doing our stuff.