View Full Version : WORST aviation book?

7th Oct 2008, 13:51
hi all,

i've only just started reading aviation books and have read a couple of threads on recommended reading which is a great help.

however, which books should I avoid? in your own personal opinion of course.

i'll start with "the avro vulcan adventure". pretty poor piece of work. i would have stopped reading it ages ago but i'm nearly finished now.


7th Oct 2008, 14:36
Budgie The Little Helicopter

7th Oct 2008, 14:39
if you haven't done already you have to read NUTS! Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success.

We Came.
We Saw.
We Kicked Tail.

Southwest Airlines, Just Plane Smart.:ok:

Ooops just read your post again NUTS is actually rather good:)

Scooby Don't
7th Oct 2008, 14:46
Anything by Patrick Robinson. They're naval novels but invariably have aircraft involved, such as the supersonic Sea Harrier and the 12-seat AH1 Super Cobra...
The man is an rse, and should stick to ghostwriting the memoirs of great men instead of printing sh*te.

7th Oct 2008, 15:28
There was a film made and released in 1969 called the Battle of Britian - A broad account of the events of the battle in 1939, based on a book called "The Narrow Margin" by D Wood & D Dempster.

The Film is well remembered for its flying sequences lots of Spanish Bf 109's , HE 111's and Spitfires togather with loads of smoke pots attached.

The script was awful. Many first rate actors (Male & Female) delivered their lines with a false jockularity. The contributions of the Polish & Czech squadrens got all of two lines at the end of the film - (Plus an agonising mind your language type scene).The Germans were cast out of Dad's Army. The desparation and the fatigue/terror that everyone would have faced was not really conveyed. (A film of its time perhaps )

(I know a lot of people will disagree wth me regarding the movie)

If you thought that was bad, try and get hold of the book of the making of the film. Its dire.


7th Oct 2008, 16:36
The Daily Mail.

7th Oct 2008, 16:40
... which (aviation) books should I avoid? in your own personal opinion of course. I would say... avoid anything that hasn't been recommended by somebody whose judgment you would trust at least to some extent.

I suppose you are talking about books bought "unseen", as on the internet, not leafed through in your local bookshop.

You mentioned the Vulcan. I saw enough descriptions and reviews of "Vulcan 607" to buy it, and I was not disappointed. But so far it's the only Vulcan book I've got. (I'm still hoping somebody will use the "Did you fly the Vulcan 'Merged)" thread here on PPRuNe and use it as research material for a book :) )

Non-fiction can be very good and totally awful. Concorde being my "thing", I've got a small stack of the "classics" I would suggest to anybody, but also a few "not so good" ones....

In the case of fiction, 95% is rubbish, as somebody already mentioned. It's the sort of stuff you buy at the airport to send you asleep during a long flight.
The remaining 5% can be worth it, usually written by somebody with some sort of aviation link.

In my personal stack of "already-read-more-than-once" are such varied ones as "Shuttle Down" and "Trinity's Child"....... but also "The Shepherd" by Frederick Forsyth, now long out of print.


7th Oct 2008, 16:53
Anyone trying to learn the technical side of aviation and aeroplanes must not buy 'Ace the Pilot Technical Interview'. It is bad. It is worse than bad! I was trying to refresh myself with it 3 years ago and all I could think was 'that's not right!', 'that's not how it is!', 'this is all wrong!'. It horrified me. Do not get this book. If you walk past a stall and it is going really cheap, do a Dionne Warwick ('Walk on By'!).

Chickenhawk was pretty good. Read it in conjunction with 'We Were Soldiers Once, and Young' (and pretty). I feel I did a 'Nam tour!

7th Oct 2008, 18:04
There is some complete and utter tripe out there.
Anything of the "world famous best-selling novelist" genre is a dead cert for rubbish - even Tom Clancy has astonished me on occasion!

Biographies of pilots and the things they did and saw - real life heroism and seat-of-the-pants flying is where the classics are.

The reason why, is that it is written from the heart. Couple it with a good editor who does not embellish the adventure, for there is no need to add one iota of extra drama to a pioneering flight across America with the US Post, or a daring journey across the Sahara. It speaks for itself.

Stories of Ernest K. Gann, Antoine De Saint-Exupery, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart will stand the test of time.

The written accounts of these remarkable aviators will never fail to entertain and inspire generations of those of us who are unlucky enough to have missed the glory days of flight.

Captain Stable
7th Oct 2008, 18:18
"Reach for the Sky" by Paul Brickhill.

Attempting to turn an arrogant sh1t into a saint. As an aviator (and a man for a particular job) he was right for the time (except that he was incapable of following orders). As a human being he was a total failure and an @sshole as well.

7th Oct 2008, 18:29
I have always been a real "Fan" of the DH Mosquito
ever since I flew in one from RAF Woodvale in 1958
as an air experience flight with the ATC. Fantastic!
Got a book about the "Mossie" from one of the kids
a few years ago. Mosquito, The Wooden Wonder,
by Edward Bishop published by Airlife Publications
Last print 1990?
an interestlng read about a GREAT aircraft.
Photo of the one that I flew in on page 160. :ok:

7th Oct 2008, 19:08
I've a really crap book about Dresden. Makes the creation and operation of massive bomber raids extremely boring. Desperate. Just pages and pages of facts and bombloads.

Squeegee Longtail
7th Oct 2008, 19:13
I have just finished Richard Scarry's "A day at the airport" (Random House Publishing) and found it a damn good read.
My son's other book "Why do dogs sniff bottoms?" (Dawn McMillan & Bert Signal) is also worth a look, although that is not aviation related.

7th Oct 2008, 19:25
T. Clancy's Firefox - crap.

7th Oct 2008, 20:10
Craig Thomas Firefox not brilliant either!

Loose rivets
7th Oct 2008, 23:25
i would have stopped reading it ages ago but i'm nearly finished now.

So, that's a kind of reading inertia disorder you have then?

It is bad. It is worse than bad! I was trying to refresh myself with it 3 years ago

How does that work then, do you...no, better not tell us.:}

8th Oct 2008, 02:51
I would say that "The Blond Knight of Germany," a highly racist account of an Me-109 pilot tops my list.

I have found that combat books written by the losers are far better accounts. Saburo Sakai wrote "Samurai," one of the best war stories I
have ever read. Nationality is irrelevant because great writing in aviation is rare and pilots like Saburo are rarer still.....

Forget fiction, it NEVER happened!

8th Oct 2008, 05:23
Anything by Wilbur Smith that involves flying. In one book I picked up he had a DC3 landing in a jungle clearing, at night, uphill and putting both engines into reverse on landing!!!

Loose rivets
8th Oct 2008, 05:27
I believe that on the early marks, One could use the left rudder pedal as the clutch :}

John Hill
8th Oct 2008, 05:52
Dont avoid any, look at all that come to hand and ditch those that are not to your taste or obviously rubbish and enjoy the rest.

Ace Rimmer
8th Oct 2008, 07:42
Anything by Wilbur Smith that involves flying. In one book I picked up he had a DC3 landing in a jungle clearing, at night, uphill and putting both engines into reverse on landing!!!

You could if it was one of those Basler PT-6 conversions....:ok:

...sorry... hat... coat

8th Oct 2008, 10:27
I nominate "Requiem for a Wren" by Nevil Shute as my personal worst book with an aviation theme. A good many years ago I was working my way through his beautifully written novels, starting with "Lonely Road", "Trustee from the Toolroom", "No Highway", "In the Wet", and "On the Beach", and found immense pleasure in the storytelling skills he possessed.

As an aeronautical engineer and pilot, his books often involved aircraft and flying, crafted in a manner involving the reader's emotions as well as the technical aspects, and I looked forward to "Requiem for a Wren" with the expectation that it would follow the familiar course of the other books. How wrong I was! I was immediately drawn into the depths of his narrative, led onwards by the unfolding saga into the tenderly expressed WW2 relationship between the young Aussie fighter pilot and the sensitive Wren, forming the central core of the story. I began to get too involved in the developing tragedy, driven on by the raw emotions evoked, and reached a stage where I simply couldn't read any further. This book really upset me, and it was some time before I could return to finish it.

This novel is the only work of fiction that has ever made me cry, and that's something I have never admitted before - after all, I'm a man for heaven's sake! So it is the worst aviation book I've read, but it is also the most moving, on an almost visceral level.

8th Oct 2008, 10:39
Slight thread drift. Anything by Jack Currie is well worth a read and First Light
by Geoffrey Wellum is a wonderfully moving book.

On the other hand in the last week I've read In Case of War Break Glass and hated it, and Utterly Ridiculous by Phillip Moore, both left me wishing I hadn't.
Both were irritating drivel, and felt like a total waste of time.


8th Oct 2008, 13:41
worst book i ever read and the most damaging due to grammar
jar ops 1 sub part Q

8th Oct 2008, 13:54
My nomination for the worst book with an aviation theme has to be 'Rogue Hercules' by Dennis Pitts.

A quick quote from the blurb:

Juliet Mike Oscar is a massive Hercules transport aircraft overloaded with missiles bound for white Rhodesia. Her crew have brought her cargo halfway across the world and now they begin the dramatic final leg of their journey along the hostile east coast of Africa - unaware that the Soviets aim to shoot them out the sky and that they are being stalked by a Mafia killer. Juliet's captain is Martin Gore, a disillusioned patrician Englishman who wants only to make enough cash from this illicit delivery to set up his own air-taxi business. His co-pilot is a languid Texan and his flight-engineer a small man called Stubbles because of the rough growth of black hair on his face. Even as the giant aircraft hurtles along the runway at Karachi, it is being watched via a spy satellite by the KGB in Moscow and by a beautiful Soviet academic who has schemed to bring its crew to a show trial.

Total [email protected]

8th Oct 2008, 15:42
In your listing of books by Nevil Shute, you omit another flying book from his WWII novels, "Pastoral". I found it extremely evocative of the early days of Bomber Command and well up to his usual high standard.

8th Oct 2008, 16:15
I thought the idea was to give the guy a "Not To Read" list!

But you're right, practically everything by Nevil Shute is worth picking up when you see it... I don't think there are any recent reprints, are there? But then there must be enough second-hands around.

In the WORST category, I would definitely nominate Alister McLean's "Santorini". While he's written some quite good stuff, that was an absolute howler. One of his last... may even have been done by a ghostwriter "in the style of...".


8th Oct 2008, 20:28
Not strictly aviation but Peter de la Bilius's account of the first gulf war was b*tt-clenchingly bad, a truly godawful book.

I've recommended this before on pprune and will take the opportunity to do so again - Sandy Woodward's book '100 Days'. I assure you all that you will not read a better opening chapter to a war memoir - truly spin-tingling stuff.


In Case of War Break Glass

The author of said tome was on an adjacent table to my wife & I at our local Indian a few weeks back. Was waxing lyrical about how much lolly he was going to make from it to his mates (you know who you are). Has managed to rope in the esteemed cross-dressing aerobatics ace into its marketing, apparently. Not read it and, having heard the author, have no plans to do so.