View Full Version : Aviation fiction books needed.

2nd Oct 2013, 00:07
Hello guys,

Would like to read some fiction or documentary books about aviation, as well as to practice my english and vocabulary.

Would you please advise me with books your have read and recommend to read.

It can be anything concerning aviation, like memories of constructors, pilots, fighter or bomber pilots etc. or really fiction ones.

It would be also great if it is not very rate books, so i can easily purchase
them thru the books store or online.

Links to a similar topics is also welcomed.

Thank you very much.

2nd Oct 2013, 00:39
Well, somebody is going to say it, I might as well be the first:

Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de St. Exupery. You can practice your French and English.

Wind, Sand and Stars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind,_Sand_and_Stars)

2nd Oct 2013, 01:05
Fate Is The Hunter by Ernest K. Gann.

2nd Oct 2013, 01:07
Fate is the hunter by Ernest K Gann

Fate is the Hunter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate_is_the_Hunter)

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Going Solo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_Solo)


2nd Oct 2013, 01:09
Nevile Shute often used aviation themes in his work.

Fiction, usually with good geographic reference and very readable;
No Highway, Round the Bend, In the Wet (but a slow start - bear with him it is a foundation for the end), An Old Captivity and (non fiction) Slide Rule.

2nd Oct 2013, 01:14
I highly recommend this:

Aftermath: Flying Magazine: 9780830642823: Amazon.com: Books

Very inexpensive, very short independent stories 3-4 pages max, each story is a description and commentary on a very interesting real airplane accident, most of them are about small aircraft but some deal with big ones and since all these accidents cover various aspects of flying you get great span of vocabulary plus the language used is very non-technical, perfect book for someone who is just learning English. It is a must read for every beginning pilot who wants to stay alive. As you can see the book has great reviews.

2nd Oct 2013, 01:14
The High and the Mighty - E. Gann

Airport - A. Hailey

Flight of Passage - R. Buck

ATC Watcher
2nd Oct 2013, 02:38
Basically all of St Exupery,
Fate is the hunter by Gann of course .The summum,
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. but not all on aviation, space as well.,
Yeager , an autobiography ( excellent)

and if you just want to dream about flying , the small book : Johantan Livingston Seagull.

You will note that all these were written between 1930 and 1970 .
After that (Air)bus driving slowly took over.

2nd Oct 2013, 02:39
"Tales of an Old Aviator -- The Big Chill"
by Duke Elegant

2nd Oct 2013, 02:59
Behind the Cockpit Door
Arthur Whitlock
ISBN 978-0863037450

2nd Oct 2013, 03:24
Anything by Capt W.E. Johns. :ok:

2nd Oct 2013, 04:59
Runway Zero-Eight by Arthur Hailey.

dubbleyew eight
2nd Oct 2013, 05:36
in all of my life I have read just one book written by a woman that I enjoyed.

Christina Jones, Walking on Air. ISBN 0-00-651344-1. published by Harper Collins.

it is about a near derelict airfield in england where they decide to work up into a wing walking act for the airshow circuit. it is a brilliant read.

2nd Oct 2013, 06:57
Shooting Script, Gavin Lyall.

How to use a DH Dove in combat against a Vampire....

2nd Oct 2013, 07:03
John Gordon Davis : Seize the Reckless Wind
Alexander Frater : The Blue Horizon

Chris Scott
2nd Oct 2013, 08:36
In my teens I too devoured W.E Johns ("Biggles"); then almost all of Nevil Shute Norway (all fiction except Slide Rule), and (later) Gann and St Exupery. Must admit to a preference for biography. At some stage I read Reach for the Sky (Paul Brickhill?), which taught me to call a 'plane an aeroplane (airplane if you are west of the pond) and a biography of Frank Whittle, the jet engineer.

There were also a few pilot memoirs, including:
The Sound Barrier by Nevil Duke;
Mach One by Mike Lithgow;
Wind in the Wires by a WW1 fighter pilot called ? Grinnel-Milne.

More recently, there are the memoirs of Chuck Yeager and Jim Lovell.

IMO the best fiction is based on fact. In that category David Beaty, a former BOAC pilot, wrote "The(?) Heart of the Storm and The Cone of Silence, both of which dramatise the conflicting priorities that airline captains sometimes face.

I also thoroughly recommend the Obituary pages of quality newspapers, if you are trying to polish your English. Sadly, many of the most interesting subjects are long-gone...

2nd Oct 2013, 13:07
In addition to many of the above, I would highly recommend 'Winged Victory' by VM Yeates.

3rd Oct 2013, 00:01
I'm surprised no one's mentioned David Beaty, starting off with http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cone-Silence-David-Beaty/dp/B0010XD27E

India Four Two
3rd Oct 2013, 03:36
Lots of good books here:





3rd Oct 2013, 03:49
Try Brian Lecomber's novels; probably the best is 'Dead weight'...

3rd Oct 2013, 04:39
Ciara O'Toole, Going Solo on Lake Como.

Biographical and not too deep, and not solely about aviation. Available from you local Kinazon or Amadle store!

3rd Oct 2013, 09:34
How Airliners Fly (non-fiction, paperback and Amazon Kindle)
The Damocles Plot (Amazon Kindle)
The Sommerville Case (Amazon Kindle)
Flight 935 Do You Read (Amazon Kindle)

Julien Evans

3rd Oct 2013, 11:02
Bomber by Len Deighton. Harrowing read but has a ring of authenticity.
Also Bomb Run by Spencer Dunmore


Chris Scott
3rd Oct 2013, 13:01
Quote from CNH:
I'm surprised no one's mentioned David Beaty...


His aforementioned The Heart of the Storm is not as well-known as Cone of Silence (which was made into a feature film), but gives a rare insight into the type of operation run by BSAA just after WW2. If you like Ernest Gann, it's a must. For a list of his other books:
Arthur David Beaty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_David_Beaty)

Incidentally, although I greatly admire Gann's flying experiences and writing skills, in later life I have come to think his concept of fate is greatly overplayed - even potentially dangerous.

"no one"

3rd Oct 2013, 15:19
Not fiction but good reading nonetheless..............

Sky Fever Autobiography of Geoffrey de Havilland.


3rd Oct 2013, 15:27
Plane Crazy, by Sabine Hargreaves. ISBN 978-1-4520-1850-8

3rd Oct 2013, 15:29
I'm surprised no one's mentioned David Beaty

I'm even more surprised no-one has mentioned Dale Brown:)

3rd Oct 2013, 18:23
Air Scream by John Bruce.

3rd Oct 2013, 22:30
"Delta Papa" by Derek Piggott
Dambusters by Paul Brickhill
Reach for the Sky [A Bader biography]
Fly for your Life [ R.R.S. Tuck bio]
Faster than the Sun by R Beaumont
The Big Show and To Little Too Late by Pierre Clostermann
Old books, but easy reading

Flying Lawyer
5th Oct 2013, 10:21
Four very different books, but all excellent.

The Wind Beneath my Wings
By John Hutchinson, Concorde Pilot
Published by Speedman Press.


Capt Hutchinson started his flying career in the RAF and was then a corporate pilot for three years before joining BOAC. He was a 707 and 747 co-pilot, and then a captain on the VC10 before being selected to be a Concorde captain.
IMHO, a 'must read' for anyone interested in aviation generally and Concorde in particular.

A View from the Hover: My Life in Aviation
by John Farley
Published by Seager Publishing


A very readable account of the career of one of our most distinguished and highly respected test pilots, and a fascinating insight into an exciting era of aviation history.
John Farley has the rare gift of being able to explain the most technical matters in a way that can be understood even by those who, like me, are not naturally technically minded.

Highest Duty
By Capt Chesley Sullenberger


Capt Sullenberger relates what happened on the 15th January 2009 when he was forced to land an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River New York.
He comments on the current state of the airline industry with a particular emphasis on safety, and the sometimes conflicting interests of safety v cost-cutting.
Recommended to anyone in, or interested in, the aviation industry.

Apollo 13
By Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger

The full story of the moon shot that almost ended in catastrophe.
Through the brilliance and courage of Jim Lovell and his crew, improvising under conditions of extreme hardship and pressure, an almost certain catastrophe was averted and Apollo 13 was brought home safely, with Captain Lovell adjusting course manually by firing the lunar module’s thrusters and engine, using his watch for timing.
As inspiring today as it was more than thirty years ago.



Genghis the Engineer
5th Oct 2013, 12:13
I wouldn't disagree with any of the existing recommendations - I've enjoyed and read most of them.

I'll mention however - one of my roles in life is supervising PhD students in aviation subjects. Often they are not people whose first language is English, and always they are not yet used to the sort of high quality writing required of a doctoral candidate.

I've had really good results setting Neville Shute as compulsory reading - accessible, but also an excellent example of really clear writing about aviation topics, by an extremely competent and literate aviation professional. For the purposes of the original poster, it doesn't get much better.


5th Oct 2013, 14:20

I agree Neville Shute is an excellent story teller. His prose is deceptively lucid - a delight to read.

6th Oct 2013, 14:02
Chiglet. 'Faster than the Sun' was written by Peter Twiss, not R. Beaumont. It was the story of the World Speed Record attempt in the FD2.Regards.

6th Oct 2013, 19:48
The Most Dangerous Game, Gavin Lyall.
First read by me at age fifteen and re-read every one of the the forty years that have followed.

Gann and Lecomber I second, all sit on my shelf.

Chickenhawk, Robert Mason, another superb read.

6th Oct 2013, 20:11
Stranger to the Ground by Richard Bach is a great read.

6th Oct 2013, 20:52
"Damn Serious Business" by Ching Willows (Earl Willis)

7th Oct 2013, 12:42
Sagittarius Rising-Cecil Day Lewis

Genghis the Engineer
7th Oct 2013, 12:49
Stranger to the Ground by Richard Bach is a great read.

It is, but Bach's "Gift of Wings" is a far better general book on the joys of flying, and might suit the OP better.


7th Oct 2013, 22:43
Sorry, I had a senior moment...I meant My Part of the Sky :ugh:
And yes I do have the Twiss book

8th Oct 2013, 09:36
A Thousand Shall Fall-Murray Peden

8th Oct 2013, 21:44
If historical military aviation is eligible, too, Derek Robinson would be on my recommendation list.

10th Oct 2013, 01:11
Defector by David Gledhill

Defector is a pacy thriller which reflects the intrigue of The Cold War. It takes you into the cockpit of the Phantom fighter jet with the realism that can only come from an author who has flown operationally in the NATO Central Region.

18th Oct 2013, 15:54
Shamelessly recommending my books:

The Life of Captain Reilly parts 1 & 2
From Russia with Stuff

They'll take the gloss of anyone's view of modern commercial aviation -- essential reading for prospective cadets eager to hand over £100K to a flight school!


18th Oct 2013, 16:36
"Ryanair Customer Service Manual"

(sorry, gets hat, coat, shuffle to the door)

18th Oct 2013, 17:29
The world's shortest book, perhaps?

28th Jan 2015, 17:01
The Damocles Plot, Flight 935 Do You Read, The Sommerville Case. All by Julien Evans, all available on Kindle.

29th Jan 2015, 09:12
I recommend the Bandy Papers, 9 novels documenting the exploits of a WWI fighter ace named Bartholomew Wolfe Bandy. Author is Donald Jack, I found some available on Kobo, otherwise secondhand copies are available.

29th Jan 2015, 14:33
James Salter The Hunters
Highly recommended.. no-one better at bringing air combat in the jet age (F-86s in Korea) to life..:ok:

11th Apr 2015, 14:07
If I'm allowed to push my own novels I have three out there now:
Defector - RAF Germany Defector scenario
Maverick - Rogue attack on the Falklands.
Deception - Beirut COMAO on the lines of Pulsator in the 80s.

All on Amazon

11th May 2015, 06:17
Re Derek Robinson ... yes indeed - and to see the humorous side of WW1 air combat don't miss his Goshawk Squadron. I just wish someone would make it into a movie!

PPRuNe Towers
11th May 2015, 09:06
I really would like to second the recommendation from late January,

The Bandy Papers are a superb series: good research and laden with wonderful humour. Everyone's different but these are the rarest of gems for me. Laugh out loud funny.


11th May 2015, 10:10
Anybody remembers reading Robert Jackson's WW2 air thrillers? They were basically what I progressed onto after Biggles!

I probably last had a book by him in my hands about 30yrs ago but the name came back instantly.


11th May 2015, 20:25
"Tuesdays War" by David Fiddemore, one in a series of 5 books, all very good, but I thought this was the best.

12th May 2015, 00:07
Michael Collins - "Carrying The Fire"

"Buzz" Aldrin - "Return To Earth"

Ali Qadoo
17th May 2015, 07:45
Following Geehovah's lead, here's one I wrote earlier...

Bomber Boys - a Ghost Story http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00X1AQ8TI

Hen Ddraig
18th May 2015, 22:29
Any Garth Wallace book.
Happy landings.

Hen ddraig

Genghis the Engineer
19th May 2015, 14:56
Michael Collins - "Carrying The Fire"

"Buzz" Aldrin - "Return To Earth"

I really hope that neither of those are fiction.

Another favourite of mine - short, well written, beautifully illustrated, is The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

Very similar writing to Nevil Shute, who I mentioned on this thread 2 years ago, would be Arthur C Clarke's novel "Glide Path".


19th May 2015, 17:25
Sorry, Genghis, I lost the plot. Both Collins' and Aldrin's books are Non-fiction. :ugh: