View Full Version : Searching for a good read...

Double Asymmetric
5th Sep 2002, 10:24
Hiya all.

Does anybody care to make some recommendations of some pleasant aviation reading (non-fiction)? I'm thinking along the line of people enjoying the simple pleasure of flying, or doing amazing things with their beloved aeroplane. Along the lines of:
"Charlie Mike Charlie" by Clive Canning
"Aiming High" by Jon Johansen
etc if you are familiar with these (Australian) books. You know the kind, flying your Piper Cub around the world/country/neighbourhood, building your own plane etc etc.
While I'm at it, Stephen Coonts (A-6 driver of "Flight of the Intruder" fame) wrote a non-fiction book about rebuilding and flying a Stearman...anyone know the title and care to share your opinion? Doesn't have to be GA, gliding/ultralighting etc would be nice as well.
Hope someone has some recommendations!



5th Sep 2002, 12:34
The Stephen Coonts book is "The Cannibal Queen" and is IMHO a darn good read. Enjoy it!

Delta Papa - Derek Piggott's autobiography is a good read, mostly about gliding as I recall, but plenty of powered flying.

Two volumes about the Tiger Club by Lewis Benjamin are very worth while reading; a third volume by Michael Jones is now available, though my copy hasn't been delivered yet!

Very fond of biographies, Bob Hoover, Yeager, Stanford-Tuck, etc are enjoyable.

Also "Fly Low Fly Fast" by Robert Gandt is a good read if you like the Reno Races.

One I've just been re-reading is "Throw Out Two Hands" by Anthony Smith, story of a balloon safari he did in Kenya/Tanzania in 1962 with a hydrogen balloon... he's an excellent writer and the book is a delight.

If I think of anything else...


5th Sep 2002, 12:38
"Sigh for a Merlin" by Alex Henshaw. Spitfire test pilot.

Windy Militant
5th Sep 2002, 12:43
Double Asymmetric
The Title you're after is "The Cannibal Queen"
There's been a thread previously about favourite authors, books etc so perhaps you could do a search through the archives to save going all through the list agin.

But If you missed that "Ernest K Gann" featured high in the list another popular one was "Harald Penrose."
"A gift of Wings" a collection of short stories by "Richard Bach" has a list of some of the authors favorites in one of the stories, which pointed me towards the above authors and others which were well worth reading.:)

5th Sep 2002, 14:34
If you can, get "the Saga of Iron Annie" by Martin Caidin.

It tells the story of his purchase and restoration of the JU-52 "tante Ju" which is now owned and flown by Lufthansa.

Only available second hand I'm afraid. But well worth getting.

Martin Caidin (http://www.eclecticviewpoint.com/evcaidin.html)

Iron Annie (Bottom of the page) (http://home.att.net/~berliner-ultrasonics/aviatn-2.html)

5th Sep 2002, 21:01
'Chickenhawk' - memories of a Huey pilot in Vietnam is good reading.

6th Sep 2002, 00:07
Try also,

PropellerHead by Antony Woodward.

ISBN: 0-00-710728-5

I have just finished reading this book and it is highly amusing and a very enjoyable read.

6th Sep 2002, 00:19
Two that I have enjoyed in recent times are:

Corsairville - Graham Coster a good read concerning the old flying boats,

My god, It's a woman - Nancy Bird's autobiography.

I got both of my copies through Doubleday on the net at pretty reasonable prices.

Double Asymmetric
6th Sep 2002, 08:16
Thanks everyone!

I really appreciate the feedback, and will chase up same. I especially will hunt down "The Cannibal Queen" - I remember perusing it years ago but for some reason didn't grab it.

And by all means, keep the suggesting coming!


:) :) :)

You want it when?
6th Sep 2002, 09:08
Skunk Works - Ben R. Rich & Leo Janos ISBN 0 7515 1503 5.

"Skunk works is the true story, told for the first time, of America's most secret and aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operations brilliant boss for nearly two decades" (off the back cover)

OK I'm only a third of the way through it but it's making the commute go considerably faster. The book's also been highly recommended by a couple of pals.

Also recently finished "Propeller Head" as noted above, a fun read.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
6th Sep 2002, 10:53
'Airymouse' and 'Cloud Cuckoo Land' by Harald Penrose.

Richard Bach: 'A Gift of Wngs', 'Stranger to the Ground', and 'Biplane'.

Ernest Gann 'Fate is the Hunter' (recollections of early US airline pilot - absolutely superb).

'F-4 Phantom', by Robert Prest. Superbly written account of an RAF F-4 pilot. Why didn't he write anything else?


tony draper
6th Sep 2002, 11:21
Agree SSD, just recently finished reading Robert Prests F4 for the second time ,excellent book, might be a bit hard to come by now though, found my copy on a boot sale.
Pablo's War, by Pablo Mason, best book to come out of the Gulf War IMHO.
Read it as a library book but have never been able to find it to buy, I do have his follow up Pablo's Travel, also a good read.
The two Johns, Team Tornado is also worth a sniff.

6th Sep 2002, 14:28
Might be apochryphal, but I seem to recall being told by a disgruntled back seater that Robert Prests book only mentions the word navigator twice (he being an F4 driver)! :D

Anyone confirm or deny?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
6th Sep 2002, 18:36
ORAC - Can't remeber any mention of the back seater. Arn't they just provided as something for the pilot to eat should they be forced down in a remote area? ;~))


tony draper
6th Sep 2002, 19:13
I though they called Nav's RIO'S in those long off days .;)

9th Sep 2002, 20:24
A quick trawl on random pages shows the word "navigator" at least 6 times,but no job description!!:p

9th Sep 2002, 22:47
Two of the best aviation books I ever read were

"To War in a Stingbag" by Charles Lamb (available on Amazon); this guy had a amazing war starting with his carrier being sunk at the start of the war ranging to the attack on Toranto, Malta a period in a Vichy POW camp and ending in the Pacific. I read it twice and it is ALL true!

The other great aviation book is the classic "Thud Ridge" by Col Jack Broughton - F105 ops over North Vietnam. The flying sections are all taken from radio calls recorded during the operations. A brilliant book and well worth hunting down.

Of the other books mentioned above I have a copy of "Chickenhawk" and it is excellent.

I. M. Esperto
10th Sep 2002, 19:02
Anything by Gill Robb Wilson is worthwhile reading.

The Airman's World comes to mind.

Tiger_ Moth
11th Sep 2002, 20:59
"First Light" by Geoffrey Wellum is a great book. Tells about his training in 1939 (RAF) and then the Battle of Britain. REalLy GOOD!

"Saggitarius Rising" by Cecil Lewis. About a pilot's experiences of the First World War. SpLEndid!

Both the above should not be too hard to find and are probably the best ever military flying books. Really well written.

Also agree about Chickenhawk

12th Sep 2002, 12:40
Just read:-

The Spice of Flight, Richard Pike. Lightnings, F4s and Whirlwinds.

Meteor Eject, Nick Carter. Meteors through to Hunters in Jordan.

Both well written autobiographys.

Mr G.


13th Sep 2002, 16:52
Non-fiction you wanted? Let's see.... from my bookshelves:

Flight of the Mew Gull- Alex Henshaw
Slide Rule- Nevil Shute
Spitfire- Jeffrey Quill
Fighter Test Pilot/Flying to the Limit (or his latest book, can't remember the title)- Roland Beamont
The Dangerous Skies- A.E. Clouston
The Spirit of St. Louis- Charles Lindbergh
Voyager- Rutan and Yeager
Yeager- Chuck Yeager and Leo Janos

Early ones from Richard Bach are great, and I'm still looking for other books by Don McVicar. I got 'Mosquito Racer' cheap at Duxford two years ago but I still regret not buying the other titles by him that were available there. Can't seem to find them anywhere now, any ideas anybody?

Indeed 'Cannibal queen' is very good, but although they are fiction you should also read 'Flight of the Intruder' and 'The Intruders' from Stephen Coonts. They are based on his own experiences and especially 'Intruders' contains many details based on true experiences which make excellent reading. Flight of the Intruder is more a Vietnam story, but don't get me wrong: IMHO it's one of the best ones I've read!

That should keep you reading for a while, let us know when you finished these :D

21st Nov 2002, 17:40
The best one is "Flight of Passage" by Rinker Buck.

21st Nov 2002, 18:45
Treadigraph and Shaggy Sheep Driver: you must have been looking over my shoulder at the most-thumbed books on my shelves! To your recommendations I'd add Cecil Lewis's 'Sagittarius Rising' (a Great War air fighting classic), Jack Parham's 'Flying for Fun' (see Private Flying Forum) and David Garnett's 'A Rabbit in the Air' (both capturing the spirit of pre-war light aviation), Harald Penrose's 'Adventure with Fate' and 'Winkle' Brown's 'Wings on my Sleeve' (test-flying memoirs), Bert Stiles's 'Serenade to the Big Bird' (a poignant account by a Flying Fortress crewman), and Col. Jack Broughton's 'Thud Ridge' (F-105 ops over Hanoi), and something by St. Exupery, of course. Fiction? Ernie Gann, Gavin Lyall, Brian Lecomber, John Templeton-Smith won't fail you. And don't overlook anthologies -- they can pave the way to further enjoyment.

22nd Nov 2002, 05:41
Spot on, Jhieminga. "Slide Rule" - Nevil Shute Norway. A great read!

You mention Australia, Double Asymmetric? If you are in Australia and interested in Ozzie (and PNG) aviation history:

"A Thousand Skies" - Chilla Kingsford Smith story
"Wings of Gold" - Jim Sinclair (Pre War PNG)
"Sepik Pilot" - Jim Sinclair (Bobby Gibbes story)
"Balus" I, II & III - Jim Sincalir (Post War PNG)

"Qantas Rising" by Hudson Fysh is interesting. Was at Longreach last weekend for the first (last, and only) Qantas B747-200 Classic VH-EBQ landing and noticed the Qantas Founders Museum has a good collection of aviation books for sale.

22nd Nov 2002, 10:00

interesting set of links to flying books

22nd Nov 2002, 16:19
You guy's gotta try 'Dancing in the Skys' by 'Tony' Jonsson. The only Icelander to fly with the RAF in WWII. Great story.

22nd Nov 2002, 22:32
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:


Speed Twelve
25th Nov 2002, 03:08
'Phantom over Vietnam' by John Trotti. A Marine F4 pilot, Trotti's book is similar in style to Prest's, except with the added edge of combat ops. Includes his description of trying to hit a ground target on a bomb run with his eyes shut after getting blase about AAA coming past his canopy every day for the last six months. The best book I have read on the subject of flying fast-jets in combat.

'A Lonely Kind of War' by Marshall Harrison, is a fixed-wing version of 'Chickenhawk', and comprises the Vietnam war diaries of an OV10 Bronco pilot. Spent all of his time wazzing around 'on the deck' doing armed FAC sorties, as well as being rocketed nearly every night in his bed whilst deployed in the field. An excellent read.

I would also second the recommendation of Stephen Coonts' two 'Intruder' novels. Fiction they may be, but having been written by an A6 pilot who was actually 'there' they are as gripping and realistic to read as any collection of real flying war stories. You're in an A6 cockpit on a carrier at night in crap weather hooked onto the catapult. Cat fires, pressed back in the seat, shooting along the deck, both engine fire warning captions come on... Brilliant.


25th Nov 2002, 12:19
One book which still stays in my memory is 'Lonely Warrior', the story of Belgian fighter Pilot Jean Offenberg, who escaped from his overrun country to fly with 609 Sqn during the Battle of Britain. A very moving account. Not sure whether it's still in print though.

Iron City
25th Nov 2002, 13:35
Second the Cootz "Intruder" novels...they are more realistic than real and technically and tactically accurate.

If you like one or both of these try the old warhorse "Bridges at Toko Ri"

26th Nov 2002, 11:59
I really enjoyed for a floatplane yarn:

True North: Exploring the Great Canadian Wilderness by Bush Plane
By George Erickson

ISBN 0-88762-103-1

Also North Star on my shoulder by Bob Buck about early airline flying in the US



8th Dec 2002, 12:28
Has anyone mentioned "North to the Orient" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh? apologies if so, missed it on brief scroll through the thread.

(Almost) everything by St Exupery (only one brief mention above?) should be on the essential reading list. You asked for non fiction, but St Ex's novels are informed by his own experiences.

Additional war memoirs: Pierre Clostermann's "The Big Show" is available in translation, although for the expanded version, "Le Grand Cirque 2000" you need to read French . See also the memoirs by Hugh Dundas and Neville Duke.

As I never fail to observe when this thread comes up: Bach is a load of old ********. New age pseudo-spiritual meanderings, bah, humbug. I could get higher from smoking teabags. Pass the bong.

9th Dec 2002, 19:33
Let's just say that Bach is an 'aquired taste' :D

(and I'm not talking about Johann Sebastian....)

'A Gift of Wings' is a collection of short stories by him and when taken in moderation might just keep FNG from revisiting his breakfast, but for others: there are a quite a few nice stories in there. If one survives that, one might very carefully try 'Biplane', 'Nothing by chance' or 'Stranger to the ground'. Only move beyond those titles after taking the advanced course in Tarot, having both palms read and accompanied by no less than a CPL licensed spiritual guide.

That's all for this week's short introductory course on Bach ;) .

9th Dec 2002, 20:51
Oi FNG! I like Bach :D

10th Dec 2002, 02:00
It can be a pain looking for out of print books, even on the internet.

I just bought a uncirculated mint second hand copy of Jack Broughton's book "Going Downtown" which goes over some of he ops he went on and his eventual court martial. It was a 1st edition and cost me less than buying it new!

I bought my copy through ABEBOOKS -


they have a lot of books of all types both fiction and non-fiction and is certainly worth a look.

18th Dec 2002, 22:25
Here are some more titles that I don't believe anyone has mentioned so far. I've listed the boooks alphabetically and according to my own subjective rating system [**** = excellent, *** = very good, **= good]:


(1) Paul M. Gahlinger, The Cockpit: A Flight of Escape and Discovery (2000) [from California to Egypt in a Cessna Cardinal]
(2) Mariana Gosnell, Zero Three Bravo: Solo Across America in a Small Plane (1993) [summer flying in an old Luscombe]
(3) Robert S. Grant, Bush Flying: The Romance of the North (1995) [bush flying in Canada]
(4) Frank Kingston Smith, Flights of Fancy (1960) [adventures in a Piper Comanche]
(5) Frank Kingston Smith, Weekend Wings: the Complete Adventures of the Original Weekend Pilot (1982) [full circle from a Cessna 140 to a Piper Cherokee 140]


(1) Donald Fonger, Challenging the Skies (1988) [around the world in a Twin Comanche]
(2) Hugh Godefroy, Lucky 13 (1987) [Spitfire pilot in WW2]
(3) Laurence Gonzales, One Zero Charlie: Adventures in Grass Roots Aviation (1992) [aerobatics and weekend flying in Illinois]
(4) John Kilbracken, Bring Back my Stringbag (1979) [Swordfish pilot in WW2]
(5) Frank Kingston Smith, Weekend Pilot (1957) [learning to fly in a Cessna 140]
(6) Frank Kingston Smith, I’d Rather be Flying (1962) [learning to fly instruments and learning to fly a Piper Apache]
(7) Dave McIntosh, Terror in the Starboard Seat (1980) [Mosquito navigator in WW2]


(1) Justin de Goutiere, The Pathless Way (1969) [float flying in British Columbia]
(2) Harmon Helmericks, The Last of the Bush Pilots (1969) [bush flying in Alaska]
(3) Harmon Helmericks, The Flight of the Arctic Tern (1952) [bush flying in Alaska]
(4) Roy Mason, Ice Runway (1984) [recreational flying in British Columbia]
(5) Jack Schofield, Flights of a Coast Dog: A Pilot’s Log (1999) [bush flying in British Columbia]
(6) Sheila Scott, I Must Fly (1968) [around the world in a Piper Comanche]
(7) Sheila Scott, On Top of the World (1973) [further adventures in a Piper Aztec]

Happy reading!


19th Dec 2002, 01:27
Here's a haphazard choice from my shelves, most of which I cannot recall having seen listed previously:

James Gilbert - The World's Worst Aircraft (one of my favourites)
Jennifer Murray - Now Solo (about her rtw epic in a Robinson R44)
Dirk Bogarde - Cleared for Take-Off
Laddie Lucas - Out of The Blue (The role of luck in air warfare 1917-1966
A.L. Isenhauer - The Flying Carpetbagger (about Robert Vesco)
Charles Berlitz - The Bermuda Triangle
Judy Lomax - Flying for the Fatherland (she also wrote one on Sheila Scott)
Christopher Robbins - Air America
P.R. Reid - Winged Diplomat (The life story of Air Cdre Freddie West)
Gordon Baxter - Bax Seat
Neville Duke - Test Pilot
Ulrich Steinhilper - Spitfire on my Tail (with Peter Osborne)
Peter Townsend - Duel of Eagles (plus of course Time and Chance)
Harry Combs - Kill Devil Hill
Eric Mueller & Annette Carson - Flight Unlimited (mine is signed by Eric - Farnborough 6.9.84)
Louise Sacchi - Ocean Flying
Mary S. Lovell - Straight on till Morning
Annie Bullen & Brian Rivas - John Derry (hope you always pay a visit to the memorial to him in the garden at Cannes Airport...)
Carel Birkby - Dancing the Skies (stories behind the aircraft at the SAAF museum at Saxonwold)
Julian C. Temple - Wings Over Woodley (the story of Miles Aircraft)
Richard Serjeant - Private Flying for Business and Pleasure (mine is signed 23 Nov 1962!)
Bramson & Birch - The Tiger Moth Story
Jean Batten - Alone in the Sky (signed 6.8.79 - at Cranfield)
Bob Price - Life on the Airliners
Arthur Pearcy - The Dakota (mine is obviously from Arthur's own library because it is signed by all manner of people, and also contains handwritten addenda on schoolbook paper)
Jeffrey Quill - Spitfire
Desmond Scott - Typhoon Pilot
AVM Donald Bennett - Pathfinder
Martin Caidin - Fork-Tailed Devil: The P38
Len Deighton - Bomber (also Fighter)
John Sweetman - The Dambusters Raid
Alex Henshaw - Sigh for a Merlin
Peter G. Campbell - Tales of the Fifties (and More Tails, etc)
Beryl Markham - West With the Night (and Splendid Outcast)
and in that vein I must add:
Karen Blixen - Out of Africa

and for the sheer pleasure of having it to thumb through - a pristine copy of The Air Pilot of 1934, or a bound copy of 6 months of Flight International 1939, much translated into German....

What I am missing (although it's so small it could be sandwiched somewhere) is a signed copy of Fredrick Forsyth's The Shepherd which, although fiction, possibly is not.......

and I must mention and recommend the facsimile edition of Ferry Pilots Notes, issued to the pilots of the A.T.A. (bless them).

Happy Reading!

19th Dec 2002, 14:30

You're right, "Bax Seat" is very good. He also published a sequel, "More Bax Seat: New Logs of a Pasture Pilot", but it is difficult to find.

I hope that Lane Wallace, Bax's heir at Flying magazine, will eventually publish an edited collection of her columns. Please let it be hardbound!


P.S. A list of aviation books appears at: www.inl.net/hp/richieb/books_by_author.html

19th Dec 2002, 16:07
ATB1943 remind me of another: Annette Carson's "Flight Fantastic - the Illustrated History of Aerobatics".

A great read full of wonderful anecdotes about - and from - the pioneers and exponents of the sport. 15 years or so since publication; with the advances in the aircraft and manouvers plus the newer competitions, an updated edition is called for!

19th Dec 2002, 18:52
Treadigraph: You're so right about an updated version of 'Flight Fantastic' being long overdue. If you're out there Annette, how about it? I was lucky enough to get my copy signed by many aerobatics 'greats' at the 1986 WAC at South Cerney, but have pulled it from the shelf with such regularity that it's looking decidedly tatty now. Alway envied Tony Bianchi his original of Lynn Williams' cover painting. I had to settle for a print, but it's wonderful nonetheless.

atb1943: My shelves reflect your random selection almost volume for volume, and I can still find my (unsigned) copy of 'The Shepherd'!

19th Dec 2002, 21:51
Wunper, I haven't read George Erickson's book, but Amazon.com customer reviews suggest that the author indulges himself in frequent anti-religious rants: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1585745529/qid=1040337830/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-9539745-5956748?v=glance&s=books

I'm an atheist myself, so this probably wouldn't offend me, but it sounds tedious and distracting. Can you confirm or deny what the reviews say?

19th Dec 2002, 23:17

Thanks. Is there not also a book 'I learned about flying from that' or is it only the series of articles in Flying?

I found a couple more:

Robert Mads Andersen - 'Antonovs Over the Arctic' written together with Shane Lundgren, son of the founder of Air Berlin, and line pilot himself.

Norman Barfield - 'Broughton, from Wellington to Airbus' which you can get signed at Brooklands, where Norman is curator.

Len Buckwalter's The Pilot's Night Flying Handbook' (Aah those heady days before GPS...!) and

Weems - 'Air Navigation' THE authority on celestial navigation, LORAN, dead reckoning, etc. Fascinating to read what you had to know in the pre and just postwar (WWII) era.

Because they are such great photgraphers I've got to mention:

Gordon Bain - 'Silvered Wings', and

Charles E. Brown - 'Camera Above the Clouds', plus anything by Austin 'Ozzie' Brown.

A couple of coffee table sized books I enjoy are

Jonathan Elwes - 'Glasmoth', particularly because I have known 'Toly Gorbatov for a number of years, and

Tony Cowan - 'Chipmunks Around the World', in which I played a modest role, enjoying a brilliant p***-up later at the RAF Club.

My latest acquisition is John Zukowsky's 'Building for Air Travel', which, although not new, I picked up for almost a song (but he only accepted cash!).

And if you are looking for an excellent Xmas present, for yourself or your best buddy, you can't go wrong with the Aviation History Book from Jeppesen.

Happy Holidays!


Lucky fellow - mine could be anywhere, but once I find it, it's going to be shrunk-wrapped and put away (after a gentle read!)


20th Dec 2002, 14:42

You're quite correct, there are at least two ILAFFT books published by Flying magazine. They are edited to separate the stories into topics such as mechanical problems, getting lost, inadvertant flight into IMC, etc. Lessons to be learned in each vignette.

Len Buckwalter's book still has some good stuff in it today. I would like to get one of the flare rigs he writes about! I don't know if you are familiar with Paul Garrison's Night Flying in Single Engine Airplanes, but he starts the book with an implausible story about a businessman without any real night experience safely flying himself through the fog-shrouded mountains east of Los Angeles. I'm not sure of the point of that story; presumably it is to suggest that night flying is really no big deal. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

21st Dec 2002, 21:55

Negative, my collection does not contain too many American books, mainly English, German and Russian (not that I speak or read the latter, but collect them all the same). Oh yes, and at least one French book - MiG - by Belyakov and Marmain, signed by both, to which Jacques Marmain added 'with my best sentiments aMiGaux'. Sad that he has departed, he was a brilliant journalist with a great sense of humour.

One book in German I am happy to have is 'Mit einem Menschen an Bord' by Mark Gallai, translated out of the Russian and signed by him in August '97. I had met him previously at Zhukovsky in 1995 in the company of Mrs. Gromova, wife of another famous test pilot for which the flight test centre is named. It's about Gallai's involvement in the Russian space program, whereas an earlier book dealt with his career as a test pilot. He was, for example, one of the three pilots assigned to fly the Tu-4, Russia's copy of the B-29.

Happy Holidays!

I. M. Esperto
23rd Dec 2002, 14:59
"China Pilot"


The story of a colorful pilot with the AVG Flying Tigers, James "Earthquake Magoon" McGovern.

Excellent book.

Canadian Luscombe
24th Dec 2002, 17:45

Don McVicar wrote a total of five books, all published by Airlife: "Ferry Command" (1981); "North Atlantic Cat" (1983); "A Change of Wings" (1984); "Mosquito Racer" (1985); and "More than a Pilot" (1985). They are very readable (indeed, breezy) narratives of his personal experiences in WW2 and the four years immediately thereafter.

"A Change of Wings" and "More than a Pilot" are fairly easy to find on the secondhand market, at least here in Canada. "Mosquito Racer" is a bit more difficult to track down.
"Ferry Command" and "North Atlantic Cat" are quite rare (possibly because they deal with the war years, and are considered more desireable(?)).

I have an extra copy of "North Atlantic Cat" that you are welcome to have for the cost that I paid for it (US$25 plus shipping). It's in fine condition, with unclipped dustjacket. Please let me know if you'd like to have it. :)

P.S. You can obtain a copy of "Ferry Command" from Ann Stanislawski at [email protected]

24th Dec 2002, 18:24
Thanx Canadian Luscombe! See your PM's :)

27th Dec 2002, 06:51

Come in, your time is nigh.

I happen to have a copy. Care to discuss mailing options?:)



BTW.. it's not a signed copy, unfortunately.

30th Dec 2002, 17:51
Just reading "A Real Good War" by Sam Halpert. He was 77 when he wrote it and relates his experiences as a navigator with the 91st BG at Bassingbourn (I used to live near Bassingbourn). His description of his first three raids made me fell I was sitting next to him. It is well written in a typically American style ands is written in the manner of a 24 year old and is occasionally baudy.

1st Jan 2003, 12:41
Hi RiskyRossco

Many thanks for the offer. I'm still hopeful of mine's turning up but yeah, want to send me an email? Should be in my profile. Did you by chance ever own a piece (large chunk) of Russian Antarctic LI-2 that now resides somewhere on the UK south coast....?

To stay on the books path, how about 'Operation Overlord', the absolutely fascinating story of and by Francis Gary Powers, his U-2 operations, shooting down, incarceration, interrogation and release in exchange for Rudolph Abel. Also the involvement of Lee Harvey Oswald......
The book was written in 1970, shortly after his return, and subsequent grilling by his friends. 33 years later, TR-1s are still to be seen - satellites are obviously not enough!

And a gem of a book is 'The Last Enemy' by Richard Hillary, the WWII pilot, his pre-war time at Oxford (he rowed for the darkblues and for England in the 1936 Olympics, where they won gold), his successes in the air, his lost friends, and in 1940 his terrible disfigurement in a shootdown and treatment by the renowned Dr McIndoe. My copy was published in 1943 in German (but in Switzerland), and an actual photo has been stuck onto the flysheet, whether by the publishers, or the original owner I don't know. There are some interesting comments written in pencil (and German) supporting Richard's description of the German rowing elite.

Just returned from my first real Christmas in England in over 30 years, thanks in part to Ryanair, who 'gave' me the flight for an astounding six Euros!

HNY all!

3rd Jan 2003, 11:23
Perhaps the most thrilling book I have read in years is "My Secret War" by Richard S. Drury and is a rivetting story of his flying Skyraiders on clandestine missions in Laos during the Vietnam war.

Ernest Gann, author of Fate is the Hunter (which is one of the great classics) comments on Drury's book thus: "An Airman's Great and True Flying Adventure".

Richard Drury is a wonderfully evocative writer who still has a column in the US magazine "Airways". His description of returning from a night mission with his instrument panel shot away then going slap bang into a thunderstorm on limited panel gave a new meaning to the simulator sequence of unusual attitude recoveries.

You can buy the book (which has 287 pages) for the remarkably cheap price of $5.00US (confirming that is five dollars US!) from:
Drury Lane Books,
PO Box 445, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA

23rd Sep 2003, 03:16
I just learned that Frank Kingston Smith died on September 3, 2003, at the age of 84.

He was one of America's best aviation writers, active in the 50's, 60's and 70's. If you can find one of his books secondhand, buy it; he had a breezy, irreverent style that is fun to read without being overdone.

25th Sep 2003, 17:37
For those who haven't read it, Neville Duke's book "Test Pilot" has been re-released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his record breaking run in a Hunter in the 50s.

2nd Mar 2004, 07:26
I just wanted to set the record straight re George Erickson's book, which I finally got around to reading. Contrary to a couple of comments on Amazon, it is not burdened with endless anti-religious rants, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. Anyone interested in private flying and/or the Canadian north would find this book to be well worth tracking down.

Aileron Roll
2nd Mar 2004, 14:43
Damn good post !

Of course PIECE OF CAKE, is a fantastic read. As is anything by American Author WALTER BOYNE.

CANNIBAL QUEEN, very good read, have you got hold of it yet ?

I was in a small airfield in the US late last year when it landed and taxied up for gas, was hoping SC was flying it...., but he has since sold it, but wonderrfull to have a look anyway !

Have always found any second hand book shop can have some good stuff, you never know quite what magic you will find !

3rd Mar 2004, 03:13
I read The Cannibal Queen a few years ago, and thought it was pretty good. I still think so. But when I picked up the books-on-tape version ("as read by the author") to play in the car, was it every awful! Coonts' stream-of-consciousness style really grated (not to mention his accent). Stick to the printed version!

Other (and arguably better) I-fly-a-Stearman books are:

(1) Alan Lopez, Biplane Odessey: Flying the Stearman to Every U.S. State and Canadian Province in North America;
(2) Jim Doyle, Flying Through Time: A Journey into History in a World War II Biplane; and
(3) Gus McLeod, Solo to the Top of the World.

henry crun
3rd Mar 2004, 03:38
Atlantic Air Conquest by F.H. & E.Ellis is an interesting account of all the attempts, successful and otherwise, to fly the atlantic between 1919 and the end of the 1930's.

It is bound to be out of print now but is worth looking for in second hand shops, which is where I got my copy.

3rd Mar 2004, 07:01
Double Asymmetric:

I know you are a non-fiction buff, but try "Round the Bend", Nevil Shute , 1951, ISBN 0-330-02018-8

It's as good a fiction aviation read as you might find, might as well be non-fiction.

3rd Mar 2004, 07:08
Round the Bend is a 'must read' for all aviation maintenance people (and enjoyable for pilots, too).

3rd Mar 2004, 10:59
I'm re-reading "Night Fighter" by 'Jimmy' Rawnsley and Robert Wright. Rawnsley was John Cunningham's radar operator in 604 and 85 Squadrons; Wright was personal assistant to Sir Hugh Dowding and Sholto Douglas before re-mustering as a radar operator. It's a fascinating (and very readable) account of the development of the radar-equipped night/all-weather fighter.

3rd Mar 2004, 12:24
red ball in the sky,
gen. charles blair,
second edition edited by his wife maureen o'hara blair.

amelia earhart, elgen & marie long. very good. :ok:

4th Mar 2004, 18:24
I'm always amazed why there are so many bookstalls at the airshows. Clearly they are feeding the need of pprune readers !!. One I've not seen mentioned is "Mollison, The Flying Scotsman" by David Luff. Being fascinated by the pre-war record breakers it's a revealing insight into how the flights were financed and the adulation successful ones received.
BTW I've heard a version of Fredrick Forsyth's "The Shepherd" based around 3 P-47s returning to Duxford in WW2. Anybody else heard that?

5th Mar 2004, 06:11
I own a copy of that book, although I haven't read it for several years.

As I recall, towards the end of the book the author describes a transatlantic crossing by a flight of F100 'Super Sabres'. Partway across, one of the other pilots radioed the senior officer (Brig. Gen. Blair) to report that his bladder was full, and requested permission to relief himself in his flight suit (permission was duly granted). I thought to myself "this could only happen in the American military". :rolleyes: Probably they learn such juvenile behaviour in their service academies (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/articles/brief/04westpoint_brief.php) (remember Winston Churchill's observations of West Point in My Early Life?).

I don't want to take away from the book (which is not a bad read), or the author (who was an extremely accomplished pilot). More information is available here (http://www.speakeasy.org/~beck/blair.html).

8th Mar 2004, 23:14
I checked My Early Life, and the passage referred to above does not in fact appear in that book. Rather, it is in a letter from Churchill to his brother, reproduced as follows in Winston S. Churchill, Vol. I (Youth: 1874-1900), by Randolph S. Churchill:
I am sure you will be horrified by some of the Regulations of the Military Academy. The cadets enter from 19-22 and stay four years. This means that they are most of them 24 years of age. They are not allowed to smoke or have any money in their possession, nor are they given any leave except two months after the first two years. In fact, they have far less liberty than any private school boys in our country. I think such a state of things is positively disgraceful, and young men of 24 or 25 who would resign their personal liberty to such an extent can never make good citizens or fine soldiers. A child who rebels against that sort of control should be whipped – so should a man who does not rebel.Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

20th May 2004, 19:42
I have heard there are some books written about crew by crew around. Does anyone know of them?

24th May 2004, 15:51
Could you please be a little more specific, Gauntlet? Do you mean books by pilots about pilots? If so, the list is endless, but quite a few are referred to in the pages above.

25th May 2004, 17:23

Sorry wasn't thinking when I posted, I have been told of books written by cabin crew on their adventures!

I read a book by Anthony Woodward the other day called Propellorhead, very amusing book and well reccomended


8th Sep 2004, 11:34
I would rather provide positive references than negative, but felt that I should give you a warning about this absolute stinker of a book: Donald A. Fraser, Live to Look Again (1984), ISBN:0919303803. The sub-title should be: The Most Incredibly Boring Autobiography Ever, by The Dullest Man in the World. :ugh:

The author was a Canadian pilot who served with the RAF during the Second World War, in both Bomber and Coastal Commands. Unfortunately, he seems to have spent his service years doing very little flying, since he was afflicted by various medical complaints (all of which are meticulously recorded for the reader's benefit). There is no particular shame in this; but why he felt it necessary to publish a 242 page memoir cataloguing all the minute details of his many, many leaves, and the lack of activity on the New Brunswick training base to which he was eventually relegated, is a complete mystery.

In addition to the complete lack of any interesting events in the narrative, the writing is rather poor and contains various errors. There doesn't seem to have been any attempt at editing, and I suspect that the book was self-published (why!!!); certainly, I have never heard of the "Mika Publishing Company". :hmm:

Don't waste your time or money on this irksome chronicle.:bored:

Mirkin About
10th Sep 2004, 07:05
Outback Airman , by Hary Purvis and Joan Priest , an excellent read ,tells the story of Purvis' flying carreer including flying with Kingsford Smith , Hudsons during WWII and flying the "Frigate Bird II" to Chile . Haven't read it in years but I remember its was very good.

11th Sep 2004, 04:50
No one has yet mentioned the eight wonderful books by that great pioneer of trans-oceanic air navigation, Capt. Sir P. G. Taylor. They are:
VH-UXX: The Story of an Aeroplane; Pacific Flight; Call to the Winds; Forgotten Island; Frigate Bird; The Sky Beyond; Bird of the Islands; & Sopwith Scout 7309.

In these books you will find some of the most gripping, enchanting and magnificent writing about flight and flying that you will read anywhere.

Sadly, most of them are quite rare now, although The Sky Beyond which is a compendium of stories from Taylor's long career, has fairly recently been in print. If you can find it, buy it: you won't be disappointed.

Atcham Tower
12th Sep 2004, 09:21
Can recommend England is My Village by John Llewelyn Rhys, a collection of short stories about civil and RAF flying in the 1930s and early war period. Some of them could have been written by St Exupery himself. His two novels, The Flying Shadow and The World Owes Me a Living are also well worth seeking out. Tragically, he was killed in a crash while instructing on Wellingtons at RAF Harwell in August 1940. His name lives on in the annual John Llewelyn Rhys Prize for aspiring young writers. A great pity that few aviation book enthusiasts seem to have heard of him, let alone read any of his books.

Gareth Blackstock
5th Dec 2004, 23:27
I know it isn't Aviation related but I have just finished "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown. Very highly reccomended.

6th Dec 2004, 01:14
I must be sadder than I realised - I've read most of the books this list has thrown up so far...

One more deserves a mention. For those who enjoy the WW1 period - Insall (Observer) or Lewis (Saggitarius Rising) for example.

Winged Victory by V. M. Yeates

I'll guess it will be very hard to get hold of a copy now but it would be well worth searching out.

Yeates died of TB shortly after finishing the book (early 1930's). During the early days of WW2 fighter pilots were reputedly forking out a fiver for a copy - it's descriptions of flying combat being especially well written.


6th Dec 2004, 07:00
Having had the pleasure of publishing a few of his stories in a magazine in the past, I was delighted to see that The Fighter Collection's Ken FitzRoy has just committed his flying career to paper in "No Time on the Ground", as a member of the RAF flying Beverleys, Britannias and Shacks amongst others, and his subsequent civil career with BEA, Brritish Airtours (and on occasion Syrian Arab!). The lighter side of flying is not neglected either!

An excellent read, amusing, informative, gripping and just occasionally poignant.

ISBN is 1-903953-71-5, published by Woodfield Publishing of Bognor Regis.

mike phillips
7th Dec 2004, 11:14
I will happily endorse ´Speechless Two´s' post on 'Flying People' - I have know Graham for a wee while (he has even risked aviating with me in RAF days) and it is a great, amusing book, ideal for a Christmas present, and excellent reading for wannabee to ageing ATPL. Figment, it goes without saying, produces his normal outstanding illustrations to go with it.

7th Dec 2004, 19:07
Can't be arsed to read thru the thread, so agolopies if these have been mentioned before, but, reading left to right on one bookshelf:

Fate is the Hunter -Ernest Gann
Sagitarius Rising -Cecil Lewis
A misfiled Flying on the Ground -Emerson Fittipaldi!!!
Wind Sand and Stars -Exupery
Readers Disgust -Birds of Britain -I must have a word with the librarian....
The Flight of the Mew Gull -Alex Henshaw
Sepik Pilot -James Sinclair
Wings over Westminster -Harold Balfour
Leonardo da Vinci's Machines -Marco Cianchi
Sigh for a Merlin
Airymouse -Harald Penrose

And if Saab Dastard hasn't contributed yet, he's lent me some good ones too!!


Eric Mc
8th Dec 2004, 12:17
The thread is now so huge I haven't read too much of it. If not mentioned already, I would highly recpmmend Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" - much better than the film (which was still good).

I also enjoyed "Croydon to Concorde" by AE Gillman - memoirs of a pilot who's post war civil career started with Railway Air Services and DH89 Rapides and ended with BA as a Concorde captain.

Atcham Tower
8th Dec 2004, 13:29
About 15 years ago I read the very well written memoirs of a 15th Air Force B-17 pilot. It was a library copy but it disappeared from the shelves not long afterwards. I'd love to seek out a copy
but I can't remember the title or author. I think he was based on one of the Foggia airfields. He and his crew baled out over Bulgaria after their B-17 succumbed to battle damage and ended up in a Bulgarian PoW camp. Not much to go on but maybe it rings a bell with someone.

8th Dec 2004, 18:37
"Not Much of an Engineer" by Sir Stanley Hooker is one of my favorites...being an engineer of course :D

Atcham Tower
9th Dec 2004, 19:37
The 15th Air Force book title I was trying to find is Those Who Fall - A Bomber Pilot's War by John Muirhead. Have found it by an oblique search on a certain amazing second hand book site! This site is guaranteed to find almost anything and not just aviation titles.
Now looking forward to re-reading it; definitely a classic.

18th Dec 2004, 11:55
Just read "Roll back the Skies" by Vern Polley in Australia. Fascinating reading of his time as a RAAF pilot from 1940 to when he retired age 60 after flying DC3, DC4,DC6, Connies, 707's, Tridents and 737's . Stories of his flying the Pacific in the four engine prop types and the dozens of engine failures that occurred make excellent reading. 200 pages.

He retired with 31,000 hours and now at age 86 lives out his life in a nursing home near Sydney. He wrote the book in 2000 self published. Send $20(Australian dollars) cash to him C/O Emmaus Nursing Home, Barney drive, Port Macquarie, NSW 2444, Australia and as he still has a few copies under his bed he will send them to you. Include something for return postage.

John Eacott
28th Jan 2005, 02:06
Fly Navy: a collection of stories from FAA crew over the years. I bought mine at the FAA Museum, and am thoroughly enjoying the anecdotes.

Well worth a read.

Also "They Gave Me a Seafire", by Mike Crosley, also form the FAA Museum.

3rd Feb 2005, 11:28
For a book that is up there with Ernest Gann's stories, try "My Secret War" by Richard Drury. ISBN; 0-312-90503-3. Published in 1979. A fine flying book about Rick Drury's experiences flying Skyraiders in Vietnam. Type Rick Drury into Google and you can get the book via that website.

4th Feb 2005, 20:56
Nice thread - I actually found a few that hadn't read or didn't have!

I would like to add
1. Maverick - Sea Harrier at War by Sharky Ward. The Falklands Air War and the Sea Harrier, written by the CO of 801 Sqn

2. Think Like a Bird, An Army Pilot Story by Alex Kimbell. Story of a Army fixed wing pilot, gave me new respect for people flying light planes - talks about Chipmunk, Auster and Beaver flying with the Omani theatre of war thrown in.

3. Flying Upside Down: True Tales of an Antarctic Pilot by Mark A. Hinebaugh. A Navy C-130 pilot. My dad was an Indian Air Force transport pilot and I thought his stories of flying Dakota's in the Himalayas coulndt be topped - but this one does it!

4. Airborne by Neil Williams. What fantastic stories by this RAF test pilot and aerobatics champion - from flying a Cassut Racer in aerobatics competition to the Spitfire to a Meteor for a warbird collector. His other classic "Aerobatics" I am slowly absorbing while preparing to do my first aerobatic competition.

5. Cessna, wings for the world: The single-engine development story by William Thompson. He wrote two more after this - but only this one impresses. Cessna was developing a new type every year for a while - and he was the test pilot responsible for more than a couple. Taught me a few things on why my Cessna-150 is the way it is, and what they tried to make Cessna-182 I fly and why the Cessna-172RG Cutlass doesnt handle like the Cessna-172 Skyhawk (it handles much sweeter which I observed first hand- because its actually a development of Cessna-175 Skylane and not the 172!)

I'll think of more later!

4th Feb 2005, 23:48
Worf, thought I - or someone else - had mentioned Neil Williams' classic Airborne... but if not, what an oversight!

But it's the Cosmic Wind "Ballerina" rather than a Cassutt he describes so fantastically in the book - he campaigned the Cosmic in the World Aeros in 1964. First Cassutts appeared in the UK around 1970ish thanks to Tom Storey. Sorry, Anorak off...

But, what a great book...

5th Feb 2005, 19:28
New out is "ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS" by J H EVANS. The book has just been published and is available from www.sherbornepublishing.com

Really enjoyed it!

9th Feb 2005, 14:02
Groundhog.... shouldn't you be paying for that last post?;)

Algernon Lacey
26th Feb 2005, 00:22
I'm very suprised that there is only one mention of 'Think Like a Bird' . I've read most of those listed but this was fantastic .If you haven't read it go and get a copy !
Only angels have wings ? is that the same as the Cary Grant film about flying the mail in south America ?

18th Jul 2005, 00:15
My Neville Shute bookshelf:

Round The Bend
Trustee From The Toolroom
The Chequer Board

All excellent - time to reread them all.

normally right blank
24th Jul 2005, 21:48
Summer Holiday "rainy Sunday" search:

The F-86 Sabre, R. J. Childerhose, "Famous Aircraft Series".
(Only got a softback photocopy-copy) Hilarious account from a Canadian fighter pilot in the 50'ies. Mostly in Europe. "I've got forty Americans cornered over Bitburg - (but found out he was alone!)"
Plane Speaking, Bill Gunston. A personal view of aviation history.
If you know his style of writing......
No Moon Tonight, Don Charlwood. (And the later "Journeys into Night"). Australians in RAF Bomber Command. Many of their graves around here.

Not many about air traffic control?
Pressure Cooker, Don Biggs.
Vectors to Spare, Milovan S. Brenlove.
(Both American)

You are not sparrows, S. J. Carr.
Between the wars in the RAF. (Much of it in the Mideast)

24th Jul 2005, 22:43
I've just finished "Flying Witness" by Graham Wallace. It's the story of the first dedicated Air Correspondent, Harry Harper. It's a really fascinating account of the reporting of early aviation.

It's an old book, but it's readily available.


27th Jul 2005, 13:33
Wow, this is an interesting thread!

I'd recommend
* "Thud Ridge" by Jack Broughton (easily available in used form from the usual sources),
* "Chickenhawk" by Robert Mason
* "The Wrong Stuff" by John Moore
and of course
* "Cannibal Queen" by Stephen Coonts,.

Here's one I haven't read yet, but which seems to be very interesting:
* "The Starship Diaries" by Dallas Kachan

And I'd like to recommend just about *any* book by Bill Gunston, especially "Plane Speaking" !

[edited for spelling]

28th Jul 2005, 11:56
"Reach for the Sky" - biography of Douglas Bader - the WWII fighter pilot who lost his legs and still went to war flying the Spitfire...amazing story...truly inspirational...

29th Jul 2005, 19:53
Two by Tom Crouch: "The Bishop's Boys" and "A Dream of Wings": The Wrights, their family and friends, colleagues and competitors.

Was it sheer luck that through constant arguments with each other, through their skill in building lightweight vehicles, and their nature to prove or disprove established science, they set the course for the first century of flight?

29th Jul 2005, 22:00
also try "Never stop the engine when its hot" by David Lee, he was a young RAF pilot in British India, around 1935... Lots of flying stuff, plus a very illuminating insight into the workings of the Raj!

30th Jul 2005, 11:04

I enjoyed "The Invisible Air Force" which was re-released as "Air America" (with Robert Downey Jr and Mel Gibson on the cover) after the movie was released.

Don't be put off by the cover. It's not about the movie, but a real account of the CIA's airline and its start with the Flying Tigers and CAT in China.

Also, for Aussies, some interesting links with the Nugan-Hand bank in the '80s in the final chapter.

Great read.


30th Jul 2005, 13:36
"Double Malfunction"
by E.P. Gottschalk

It's a skydiving murder mystery.

Okay, not exactly airplanes, but a good read regardless.

Background Noise
31st Jul 2005, 08:53
Woman Pilot - autobio of Jackie Moggridge, one of the first women ATA ferry pilots and who ferried more aircraft than any other pilot male or female. After the war, flew Spitfires from the Middle East to Burma.

Braver Men Walk Away - autobio of Peter Gurney who eventually became top home office bomb disposal officer.

Both out of print but available.

31st Jul 2005, 17:20
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum. Best read I have had for years.

5th Aug 2005, 21:29
How about any of Chorley's Bomber Command, OTU or HCU War Losses?

Makes you appreciate how fortunate we are, despite all the mayhem that surrounds us these days.

14th Aug 2005, 16:23
Worf and Algy Lacey mention Alex Kimbell's "Think like a Bird", which is indeed excellent.

Kimbell has also written a subsequent book called "The Unbridgeable Divide", which is well worth a read itself and is easily available in pbk ISBN: 1-899293-19-1

It is subtitled "A Love Story", and the jacket blurb can give the impression that it strays into the worst of Richard Bach territory. Maybe it gets close to that, but only in a very limited way on a couple of occasions. Don't let either of those things put you off though - I enjoyed it very much.

However, it has been proof-read appallingly... :*

16th Aug 2005, 20:30
...nobody's mentioned No Moon Tonight, and the follow up -Journeys into Night, (ISBN 0-949873-37-3) both by Australian Don Charlwood, who was a Navigator with 103 Sqn flying from Elsham Wolds, Lincs...... riveting reads both of them.

Pilot Ginj
17th Aug 2005, 23:55
Some amazing reads, really enjoyed Fate is the Hunter and A Gift of Wings.

Any recommedations for books about early airline operations in the UK, 1960's era?



Pierre Argh
24th Aug 2005, 20:19
Try Norman Hanson's "Carrier Pilot"... the autobiographical of a young man who volunteered for the RN during WWII to be an aircraft engineer, found himself going through pilot training and eventually commanding an RNVR CV FU4 Corsair Sqn... great stories... many sad, some hilarious.

(only available through 2nd hand booksites though... try



27th Aug 2005, 18:19
'No Highway' by Neville Shute.

A superior novel about an eccentric individual who foretold the first jet airliner crash due to metal fatigue. I believe that Neville Shute actually gave evidence at the lublic enquiry to the early Comet crashes as his story was so prohetic.

Perhaps we whould have a novel about the perils of pilot fatigue???

'Reach for the Sky' by Paul Brickhill.

I was definately inspired to fly by the story of the amazing Gp Capt Douglas Bader who defied everybody to fight combat in Spits and Hurricanse as a double amputee.

29th Aug 2005, 11:32
The movie version of Shute's classic was "No Highway in the Sky" with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. See review (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=104124)

This was a much better film than "Fate Is The Hunter" - that one was so bad, Gann sued to have his name stricken from the credits. The "airliner" images alone caused apoplectic fits in aviators in the audience.

29th Aug 2005, 18:46
I don't think anyone's mentioned "The Water Jump" by David Beaty. (The history of transatlantic flight by someone who helped develop it.)
He also presents some interesting arguments supporting the concept of very senior managers (airline or not) being in possession of comfortable private incomes and more relevently, the historical reasons that many of the early post-war BOAC captains were such prats, plus many other interesting bits about the early days of all the atlantic airlines.

Sorreeee...................pressed the wrong button - should have been a reply to "A good read "

30th Aug 2005, 12:38
"The Water Jump" reminds me of Ed Jablonski's "Atlantic Fever" - an historical review of Alcock & Brown, Earhart, Lindbergh, Corrigan etc. in the technical and political context of their time.

BTW - I have another Jablonski book, "Gershwin", a biography of the American composer. Jablonski shows himself to be a great historian and writer in more than one field.

30th Aug 2005, 19:52
Is Jablonski the chap who invented an early composite material that was used to manufacture "Jablo" propeller blades for Rotol ?
(As used on later marks of Spitfire and Mosquito )

1st Sep 2005, 00:49
Henry Zeybel - "Gunship". fascinating and regularly hilarious based-on-fact yarn about Spec Ops AC-130s in SEA.
Wrote another about Phantoms but shall have to track it down. . somewhere on the shelves.

30th Oct 2005, 10:36
What I am missing (although it's so small it could be sandwiched somewhere) is a signed copy of Fredrick (sic) Forsyth's The Shepherd which, although fiction, possibly is not.......

I wrote that in my 19 December 2002 post. Am extremely pleased to report having found the wayward book, sandwiched inbetween two others in plastic protection. Yippeeee!

FF wrote in it....

'For Alan
with all best wishes

Freddie Forsyth

It's an excellent read, albeit a tiny text, because half of the book is full of wonderful illustrations by one Lou ****, Vampire, Mosquito, moody stuff.

The grin on my face will last for the next three years at least!

I meanwhile got three of Marc Gallai's books, translated into German and signed by him, through the good offices of Ulrich Unger. I had the pleasure of meeting Marc on a number of occasions,ILA Berlin, MAKS 95, once accompanied by Madame Gromova, wife of the man for whom the flight test institute (TsaGi)at Zhukowski is named. M.M. Gromov set a world record in September 1934 in one of the new ANT-25 aircraft built specially for long distance flightsand for the polar fleet, 12411 km in 75 hrs 2 min. The ANT-25 was exhibited at the 15th Paris Air Show, I guess in 1937. Gromov then broke another record, in USSR NO-25-1, on a transpolar flight of 10148 kms in a straight line....!

Ulrich Unger wrote about these and other pioneering Soviet achievements in his book 'Abenteur sowjetischer Flieger' published in 1987 by the Militaerverlag der DDR, ISBN 3-327-00306-8.

From this book I learn that Russia produced 27 Catalinas in Taganrog under the name GST and which were integrated into the Polar fleet as type MP-7. A further Cat was purchased in 1938 to search for the crew under Lewanewski who perished in TB-3 USSR N-209 on its way to the USA.

Any other good reads?


30th Oct 2005, 16:52
"Dragonfly - NASA and the Crisis Aboard Mir" by Brian Burroughs

9th Feb 2006, 07:41
Sorry ......

Thought I would push this thread back up to the top....you can never have too many good books!!!!

9th Feb 2006, 09:05
For something a little different try:

Happy Landings

Group Captain Edward Mole

It is the memoirs of a career RAF Staff officer, and keen pilot during the 1930s and 1940s.


Sidney Cotton: The last Plane Out Of Berlin

Jeffrey Watson

Great biography of a very interesting Australian (and I'm a pom!)



11th Feb 2006, 11:34
Always thought the best four books I've read are:
"The Big Show" by Pierre Closterman-French fighter pilot.
"Think Like Bird" by Alex Kimbell-Army pilot in Aden.
"Never Stop the Engine when it's Hot" by David Lee-Flying over NW frontier in India in 30's.
"The Fledgling" by Arch Whitehouse-Gunner in FE2's in WW1

11th Feb 2006, 11:56
"North Star over my shoulder" by Bob Buck an autobiography of a very interesting career from the thirties on.He is also the author of "weather Flying" a standard work on the subject for many years.A really good work quite similar to that classic "Fate is the hunter" if not even better.Was published in 2003i believe and on most american bookshop shelves at present:ok:

11th Feb 2006, 17:50
"Nightfighter" by C.F. Rawnsley and Robert Wright.
Read it when a teenager and probably half a dozen times since (and it's been a long time since my teens!). Still a great read about the start of aerial nightfighting from the crew's perspective.
Of course, being the RO for John Cunningham couldn't have been bad......

simon niceguy
11th Feb 2006, 19:50
"Darkness Shall Cover Me" by Humphrey Wynn.

A rare account of Night Bombing over the Western Front 1918.
True account of 2/Lt Leslie Blacking, HP 0/400 pilot 207 Sqd.


Tim Mills
16th Feb 2006, 10:18
Surprised that Winged Victory by V M Yeates has only had one mention that I can see, on page 4 by Jabberwok. Best ever book about flying, and the futility of war, in this case WW1, that I have read. It has been out of print for ages, but I have recently received a newly published paper back copy, sourced through that well known booksearch website. It has SE5s rather than Sopwith Camels on the cover, and doesn't have the introduction by Henry Williamson the previous reprints had, but well worth looking for.

Wish I had a hard back copy, the local library here has a very tatty one which I keep trying to convince them to sell me, but they say it is still in demand, and I can't convine them I am the only one who keeps demanding it!

time expired
18th Feb 2006, 20:34
A couple of items to add to this interesting list-
Wings and Warriors-Donald D. Engen- non fiction story of USN pilot from 40s- 60s the
author even claims that it was 3 British inventions that allowed the further
development of carrier aviation after the introduction of jet aircraft.
Feet Wet-Paul T.Gillcrist-Another USN pilots story about a decade later
some hillarious and often terrifying stories of carrier ops. in peace and
The Penertrators-Anthony Grey-novel about RAF Vulcans penertrating
NORAD defences in the 60s a great read

time expired
18th Feb 2006, 20:39
To add to the above
Does any one of the Canadian contributors know where I can find a
copy of Chuck Childerhose`s Splash One Tiger?.

19th Feb 2006, 08:41
To add to the above
Does any one of the Canadian contributors know where I can find a
copy of Chuck Childerhose`s Splash One Tiger?.

It is Chick not Chuck::} R. J. Childerhose actually

I am trying to find a copy of his " Wild Blue " Where where you when the Sabres flew?
A great book about learning to fly in the RCAF then flying Sabres in Europe in the 50s and doing Sabre ferry flights to Europe from Canada. I and my friends, the ones who can read, have worn my copy out.
A very funny book!

It was published by Hoot Productions but darned if I can find them or him.

There is also a series of books by Daniel V Gallery, commander of USS Guadalcanal when they captered U-505,


They are humourous looks at flying in the USN - the adventures of W/C Curly Cue - Ens. Willy Wigglesworth and an assorted gang of "Characters".
"Stand By to Start Engines" "Eight Bells and all's well" " Capt. Fatso" ect.
A nice relaxing read.

One Canadian book well worth the read is " A Thousand Shall Fall " by Murray Peden about flying in Bomber Command during WW2.

Another series of books by Don McVicar about Ferry flights during WW2 http://www.biblio.com/author_biographies/10290486/Don_McVicar.html

I have signed copies of all of his books and was fortunate to call him a friend.

22nd Sep 2006, 14:26
Marvellous book about many aspects of WW2 combat service & test flying by Captain Eric Brown - "Wings on my Sleeve" ISBN 0 09504543 6 2.

Concur with this one, excellent read! To further the thread, I was writing an article on the Sea Hawk, found one of the pilots Brown mentioned as flying in his display team.

That gentleman came into the RN at the end of WWII, became an FAA pilot and flew everything from Fulmers to Phantoms. Wonderfully funny and professional gentleman. It was VERY cool to go to the FAA Museum with him and see some the aircraft that he actually (as in that machine, not just the type) on display.

28th Sep 2006, 14:07
Just finished Vulcan 607 , Very nice book .

30th Sep 2006, 23:16
An absolute must if you can find it, The Eighth Passenger (Miles Tripp). An articulate, intelligent and perfectly harrowing account of a Lancaster crew on ops in late 1944/45, told by the bomb aimer.

Also, Inside the Sky (William Langewiesche). A collection of essays on flight. Worthwhile for the chapter on bad weather flying alone.

Samurai (Saburo Saki). An extraordinary Japanese aviator who may be most respected for his skill as a fighter pilot and best remembered as one of the few ever to return - honourably - from a 'suicide' mission. Read this and being lost, low on fuel and over water will never seem daunting (or even worrisome) again. Did I mention being wounded? No? Okay, well that too.

11th Oct 2006, 11:37
For airline flying in the 1960s try Arthur Whitlock's excellent "Behind the Cockpit Door"

For a good hidtorical read about the DH Comet Racer "The Dangerous Skies" by A E Clouston.

Fake Sealion
11th Oct 2006, 11:50
Hope the link below works:
Absorbing stuff - a common thread when reading the life stories is the huge number of opportunities open to motivated men (and women) to go off and fly for a living in decades gone by. Compare this with the situation today!!!

11th Oct 2006, 15:16
For those who enjoyed Jack Broughton's "Thud Ridge", his sequel "Going Downtown" is a good read, though not as visceral as the original.

Try Rosario Rausa's "Gold Wings, Blue Sea" about Skyraider missions in Vietnam;

and a wonderful WW2 book I found recently, Hajo Herrmann's "Eagle's Wings" sees war from the Luftwaffe pilot's perspective, quite the best aviation book I've read for a long time.


3rd Jul 2011, 08:25
"Reach for the Sky" - the Douglas Bader autobiography if you like a ripping yarn , and not just flying.

3rd Jul 2011, 08:52
As I said in another thread, "Six Feet Over" by Peter Charles is a "good read" - about 10,000 hours on Tiger Moths and Pawneees, etc, crop spraying around the world. Started in aviaton as a lad, with the ATA.

5th Jul 2011, 10:43
Guy Murchie "Song of the Sky". A navigators perspective.

Murchie was obviously a great influence on Richard Bach's early flying books. His narrative style of framing topics about navigation within a flight across the Atlantic must have been the inspiration for Bach's "Stranger to the Ground," another great book about flying. Murchie takes you on journies through the evolution of early ocean navigation, celestial navigation, and flight. Fascinating even for non-pilots and non-science oriented readers. A master of explaining complex phenomenon, "Song of the Sky" will leave the reader with an appreciation of man's long struggle to conquer the ocean and sky. If you like Richard Bach or Ernest Gann, you will absolutely love "Song of the Sky."

Amazon.com: Song of the sky (9780871650306): Guy Murchie: Books

The AvgasDinosaur
26th Jul 2011, 19:11
Here's my first ten desert Island books, not necessarily in this order.

Kelly - More than my share of it all
Kelly Johnson and Maggie Smith
Biographical account by the man behind the Starfighter, U-2, SR-71 and a lot more besides.

Michael I. Draper
Three sides of the air war and airlift in Biafra. Federal Nigerian, Biafran and the humanitarian airlift.

The ATL-98 Carvair
W. Patrick Dean
The individual history in depth of each Carvair built.

Twilight of the Pistons - Air Ferry
Malcolm Finnis
The history of Manston based Air Ferry

Miles Aircraft The Early Years 1925-1939
Peter Amos
All you could ever want to know about the origins and history of this unique British Company

Red Eagles
Steve Davies
The fullest account possible of American owned and operated Migs over the Nevada desert, the ultimate in dissimilar air combat training.

Comets and Concordes and those I flew between
Peter Duffy
Iconic tales from the cockpit by a man who has every right to recall history as it was made.

Behind the cockpit door
Arthur Whitlock
Quality biographical book by a man who bridges radial engines and wide bodies.

Wings of the CIA
Frederic Lert
One of the better researched CIA/ Air America histories

Take off to Touchdown - Invicta Airways
Malcolm Finnis
Comprehensive history of this airline through its many incarnations.

Hope these suggestions help.
Be lucky

27th Jul 2011, 18:01
"The Sky Beyond" by Gordon Taylor, and "Chickenhawk" by Robert Mason. Chuck Yeager's auto-bio is also wonderful....

27th Jul 2011, 20:45
This historical novel is NOT about aviation, but about the most advanced transportation system at the time....it WAS the aviation of their day...sea travel.

Corsairs, Conquests, and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean
By Adrian Tinniswood

I found out that many of the Barbary Corsairs were white and "christian", and many of the white and even English Barbary Corsairs preyed on British shipping! They even did shore raids into Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, and England.

I love this book!

I found it at Amazon...much cheaper as an E-book.


2nd Aug 2011, 11:58
I was going to start by saying this goes back a bit further than most suggestions but after the previous post it's relatively modern.

I received it as a Christmas present some years ago and at first assumed it was something picked up remaindered by a relation who thought anything about aeroplanes would be suitable for me.

I was wrong - it's a great book. I've lent it to a couple of people who've read it and promptly tracked down a copy for themselves.

Knights of the Air: The Life and Times of the Extraordinary Pioneers Who First Built British Aeroplanes - Peter King. ISBN 9780094681002

It covers Roe, de Havilland, Handley Page, the Short brothers and most of the rest of the UK pioneers up to the time they retired, died, got taken over or whatever.

Several available from the usual sources around the net from a few pounds.

2nd Aug 2011, 15:08
Behind the cockpit door
Arthur Whitlock
Quality biographical book by a man who bridges radial engines and wide bodies.

Amazon are asking between £214 and £500+ for this book. :eek:

2nd Aug 2011, 15:25
So that's what my (mint) copy is worth, is it? I am not selling, it's a treasure of an aviation book and some things are worth more than money.

Arthur Whitlock paid to have his book published, never got his money back, and I understand when he died his surviving family were left with a loft-full. If anyone knows them, could you have a quiet word please as to the asset they are sitting on (providing they sell them slowly, one at a time)?

RIP Arthur.

2nd Aug 2011, 15:40
D120A. That's right. It would be nice if it was published on Kindle.


3rd Aug 2011, 14:37
"She'll Never Get Off the Ground" by Robert Serling is one I'd recommend.

I have an extract in my first log book. It says....

"Are you a pilot, Mr. Studebaker?"

"No, I'm not. I suppose ---"

"Then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about. The way pilots feel. The way we feel about the sky and our 'planes and everyone else who flies. It's not something you can put into words, any more than you can describe the colour red. It's a feeling. Like maybe you feel God without ever being able to tell what God looks like. It's a way of life, and everyone who's part of it like .......like the're all a kind of fraternity."

Sums it up for me, more than just a job. A way of life.

Great book.


22nd Dec 2011, 10:51
Been shifting the bookcases round and came across "They Led the Way" by Michael Wadsworth. Michael never knew his father, who had been killed flying with 156 Sqn (Pathfinders) when the autor was 10 months old. A fascinating read of Michael's search for his paternal history. Recommended

22nd Dec 2011, 16:33
"The Eighth Passenger" by Miles Tripp from The Works in paperback for £2:99. story of a Lancaster crew flying from Chedburgh,suffolk with No 218 Squadron. Interesting revised edition with details of post war crew finding and thoughts on the bombing campaign. Read this when I was at school in late sixties still a good read. Essential reading for students of the RAF bombing offensive.

23rd Dec 2011, 09:19
"Are you a pilot, Mr. Studebaker?"

"No, I'm not. I suppose ---"

"Then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about. The way pilots feel. The way we feel about the sky and our 'planes and everyone else who flies. It's not something you can put into words, any more than you can describe the colour red. It's a feeling. Like maybe you feel God without ever being able to tell what God looks like. It's a way of life, and everyone who's part of it like .......like the're all a kind of fraternity."

A bit like being a Jehovah's Witness then

28th Dec 2011, 00:43
Black Lysander, by John Nesbitt-Dufort, one of the early Special Duties Lysander pilots picking up agents from Occupied Europe. He started flying in the early 1930s, flew Siskins, Havocs, and after the war flew cargo around the Mediterranean in an Avro York. Got himself stranded in France on one of his pickup operations and was rescued a few months later by one of his mates flying a a borrowed Anson. A very entertaining read.

If you can't get a hard copy of V.M. Yeates's 'Winged Victory', it's reason enough to buy a Kindle for this book alone.

Others from my library:
Ralph Barker's History of the RFC in WW1
Paul Ritchie's 'Fighter Pilot'
Leonard Cheshire's 'Bomber Pilot'
- all good reads.

29th Dec 2011, 11:07
Will be most interested in 'The Eighth Passenger' as, By coincidence, I actually live on part of what used to be Chedburgh Airfield, where the womens accomodation blocks used to be!. Lovely village.

29th Dec 2011, 13:39

Hope you will enjoy the book. A Lancaster NF955 of No. 218 Squadron coded HA:H had its starboard engines cut on take off Chedburgh 24 April 1945 hit a hedgerow on the Bury to Haverhill road and blew up near the WAAF site at 07:00hrs all seven crew killed.

29th Dec 2011, 13:44
Thanks T.21. Our only pub, 'The Marquis Cornwallis' has many Lancaster 'photos in it, indeed, the village sign has a Lancaster flying over a field being harvested. Next to it is the War Memorial to the Polish and other squadrons that operated from Chedburgh. Regards, John.

29th Dec 2011, 13:48
Thanks Jem60 must try and visit that area this summer nice part of the world.

8th Jan 2012, 14:51
'The Damocles Plot', just released in Kindle format.

13th Jan 2012, 21:35
The History of New York, Rio and Buenos Aires Airline from inception to being taken over by Pan Am. A fantastic insight into the politics of aviation even in those early years.

12th Feb 2015, 04:05
The Aerodrome - Rex Warner

A truly ground breaking novel. Research it, then if
intrigued, as many readers will be, get hold of it.

Superior to 1984 and Brave New World. A forgotten masterpiece of 20th century English lit. The cover quote says - "Probably the only novel of its time to understand the dangerous yet glamorous appeal of fascism and the less confident, only half-satisfactory answer of traditional democracy". First published in 1941, Anthony Burgess says in his introduction - do not read this introduction first, unless you don't mind major plot details given away".

It is about England, only insofar as "the Village" is given distinctively English characteristics, like the pub - no nationalities or city or country names are ever mentioned, and half the characters have titles rather than names: the Rector, the Squire, the Flight Lieutenant, the Air Vice-Marshal. It is, certainly, about the allure of fascism, but, to return to Burgess, it is an "ambiguous" book, and an academic examination of fascism it is not. There is lovely detail given to character and descriptions of the Village. It also is a black comedy so dark that almost the only chuckles it elicits are nervous ones. Bloody unusual, this duck. Burgess mentioned that he read it several times. I can see why. It is a strange and mysterious book.

The Flight-Lieutenant told us that he had accidentally used live instead of blank ammunition in the machine-gun whose performance he had been demonstrating. "The old boy took it right in the face, " he said, "and went over like a ninepin." He smiled as he recalled the scene to his memory, then added in a more serious voice: "It was a really bad show."

14th Mar 2015, 09:12

This book is not entirely new. First published in 2006, it was then entitled Spitfire: The Biography. While the text contents remains basically the same, this new edition is in large-format hardback and enhanced by many photographs, making for a more ambitious and impressive publication.

The biography illustrated

The word illustrated in the title of the new edition is fully justified. Upon opening the covers one is immediately struck by all the beautifully printed black-and-white photographs. Some of the arguably best vintage Spitfire photos have been included, and although many of them will be known from other books, plenty of space has been offered to print them in half-page , full-page or even centrefold format. The quality of photo printing with regard to contrast, resolution and level of detail is as good as you will find in a quality photo album, and thick, premium-quality paper adds to the impression. It is presumably because of this that the publisher has claimed this book to be “quite simply the most beautiful book of its kind”. Whether it is so or not is a matter of discussion, but for a die-hard Spitfire enthusiast such as myself this book may well be worth purchasing solely for the number and reproduction quality of these old but invaluable photos by Charles E. Brown, John Yoxall and various war correspondents.

Document of the Spitfire era

For the history purist, this book may appear biased. According to Glancey, Spitfire pilots were better than their German opponents, the Spitfire itself superior or at least on par with the Messerschmitt Bf 109, and besides, the Spitfire was the greatest fighter of the war. Glancey is excited about his subject, it shows, and he seems to write for those who love the aircraft regardless, not to those that are searching for dry facts and cold-hearted analysis.

Jonathan Glancey is the editor of the Guardian, not a professional historian, although he apparently followed the subject of the book since boyhood. His departure from the dry, factual style of a history lesson (admittedly over-represented in Spitfire literature) to a well-written collection of semi-personal essays is a knowing choice, and in my opinion a successful one. It makes the book highly accessible for anyone with the slight interest in wartime history, yet never dull to read, even to those who know a lot about
the Spitfire already.

It should be said that the word biography may appear misleading. This book does not offer a complete development history of the Spitfire, nor does it cover its operational use in sufficient detail. Rather than that, it is the celebration of the Spitfire legend. His book is a biography of a great phenomenon – the collective fascination by one great piece of British engineering. Glancey attempts to portrait the era which created the Spitfire and how the aircraft itself captured everyone’s imagination in the dire days of 1940 to become the symbol of the British cause in the war, its freedom and defiance, and remained so ever since. From the 1930s, when flying was a luxury for the wealthy who could afford it, through war years when the Spitfire so captured public imagination not only in the UK but worldwide. Notably, where other Spitfire books end with the aircraft’s withdrawal from service in the 1950s, Glancey continues with the Airfix modelling frenzy, the aircraft’s lasting footprint in post-war movies, Triumph sports car and Spitfire Ale, ending with the description of the small but prospering Spitfire restoration industry of today.

Throughout his story, Glancey makes many digressions and introduces an impressive and highly diversified gallery of men and women connected with the legend and its period in history. R J Mitchell; Douglas Bader; Pierre Clostermann; the author’s own parents; John Magee Jr; Johnnie Johnson; “Srewball” Buerling; Noel Pemberton-Billing; Malcolm Campbell; Hugh Dowding; Diana Barnato-Walker; Jeffrey Quill; Beatrice Shilling; Ezer Weizman; even Laurence Olivier and David Niven. If sometimes a bit unfocused, it’s a heart-rising drama that captures the imagination and reflects the scope of the Spitfire’s impact on its time.

Technical specifications

The last chapter of the book enumerates all the versions of the Spitfire, with technical data and 3-view drawings of selected variants (Mk. I, Mk. V, Mk. XI, Mk. XIV and F.24) to 1/72 scale. There is also a cutaway drawing of the Spitfire Mk. I sourced from the contemporary Aeroplane. All these are a nice touch and should be helpful for modellers.

Jonathan Glancey’s tribute to the greatest British aircraft of all time is first and foremost a great read. The broad view on the Spitfire phenomenon gives it its unique character and makes this book that little bit different. In that it is worth recommending. Also, because of its large format and exquisite photographs, it would not look out of place under the coffee table.
If, on the other hand, you want a detailed history of the Spitfire development, Battle of Britain or similar, you will be better suited by other titles.
For a Spitfire fan, this book is worth purchasing in the new hardback edition due to the many immaculately printed photographs.
If you are looking for a nice Christmas or birthday gift for an aviation enthusiast, this book is a fool-proof choice and should be enjoyed by your nearest and dearest regardless of the level of his/her aviation interest.

Reviewd in 2010 by Martin Waligorski on the Spitfire Site

Jonathon Glancey's Spitfire book that preceded the illustrated version -


14th Mar 2015, 10:43
Just read Mike Brooke's trio, Bucket of Sunshine, Follow me Through and Trials and Errors. Enjoyed all of them, not least the names that came up of guys I had known. Well written and enjoyable books, all of them.

14th Mar 2015, 19:39
'Adventure with Fate' by Harald Penrose. Published Airlife 1984. A beautifully written and interesting retrospective of test flying with Westlands at Yeovil, by their then Chief Test Pilot.

14th Mar 2015, 20:21
For further descriptions of Westlands and the activities, people and achievements at Yeovil the following is an interesting book,

"From Lysander to Lightning" by Glyn Davis. The story of Teddy Petter, Aircraft designer.
ISBN 978-0-7524-9211-7 published by the History Press.

longer ron
14th Mar 2015, 22:11
'Adventure with Fate' by Harald Penrose. Published Airlife 1984. A beautifully written and interesting retrospective of test flying with Westlands at Yeovil, by their then Chief Test Pilot.

Spookily enough I am re reading this book at the moment - I enjoy it more each time :)

15th Mar 2015, 00:20
Flying the Alaska Wild by Mort Mason. One of my favourite books on bush flying in Alaska. Good fun and lots of..interesting situations :)

Flying Lawyer
16th Mar 2015, 02:38
Mosquito Down! by Frank Dell (published last summer) is a 'Must read' for anyone interested in training and flying operationally with the RAF 1941-1946, Bomber Command ops and flying the Mosquito.

Dell was shot down over Germany in 1944 while flying with the RAF Light Night Striking Force. His account of the years leading up to the mission in which his Mosquito was hit, being thrown through the roof of his spinning and disintegrating aircraft, tumbling through the air and then descending by parachute for about 20 minutes is fascinating and would alone have made an excellent book but his memoir doesn't stop there - far from it!

He made his way across Nazi Germany to occupied Holland to try to meet the Allied advance. Despite a number of very narrow escapes, he successfully evaded capture and reached Holland five days later.
Posted as 'Missing', and presumed dead, he had joined a Dutch Resistance group and worked with them for some months “making a nuisance of ourselves behind enemy lines”, eventually managing to link up with British forces - an armoured car nosing up a road turned out to be the lead recce vehicle of the British 2nd Army.

Demobbed in 1946, he joined BEA and retired 30 years later as Chief Pilot (Technical).

One of the many strengths of this excellent book is that he wrote down his experiences not long after returning to Britain. The notes he made while events were still fresh in his mind enable him to give fascinating and vivid accounts of his experiences in what is a commendably modest, gripping and inspirational book.

16th Mar 2015, 16:08
'High Endeavour' by Edward Seago is the engagingly told and beautifully illustrated story of Jimmy, a circus man, who at the outbreak of war was determined to join the RAF and learn to fly. That he succeeded in this monumental task was greatly against the odds, as he had to learn from scratch mathematics, as he had no formal schooling at all. Seago was an artist of great talent, as the paintings in this book attest. Whether he really knew a 'Jimmy' or not, as well as the story line makes out, it is not possible to be sure. It is an intriguing question. And if he did exist, did he survive the war?

The passages about learning to fly, and then what it was like for Jimmy to become one with his aircraft, as he had with circus animals, are exceptionally well written.

Seago's choice of a few lines of Wordsworth as a title page quote is just right -

Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright;
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;

15th May 2015, 15:07
Just re-reading Vincent Orange's biography of Sir Keith Park. Great story of an outstanding officer and airman, but I am struck particularly by the apparent vicious back stabbing and whingeing of many very senior officers, in some cases carrying grudges from Staff College time to higher realms of strategy and to appointments at air rank. and during wartime.

Seagull V
15th May 2015, 22:56
P.G. Taylor
If you can find them anything written by Sir Patrick Gordon Taylor is a good read. His titles include:
1935 – Pacific Flight
1937 – VH-UXX
1939 – Call to the Winds
1948 – Forgotten Island
1953 – Frigate Bird
1963 – The Sky Beyond
1964 – Bird of the Islands
1968 – Sopwith Scout 7309

17th May 2015, 16:18
Just re-reading Anthony Furze's biography of ACM Sir Wilfred Freeman. It was Freeman who gave the RAF the Mosquito and the Merlin engined Mustang (which the USAAF also had), amongst others. He is little known, but clearly were it not for his having been divorced he might well have been CAS rather than Portal, and that would have been an interesting ride. It is a very detailed book, and not a quick read but IMHO well worth the effort.

24th Apr 2023, 00:20
Not to revive an old thread, but I was looking for a good read and ended up here. After spending $100 on books by page 2 of the thread, I stopped!

i just finished a friends copy on “Behind the Cockpit Door,” by Arthur Whitlock. What a great read! I wanted to buy my own copy but WOW… not cheap on the used market.

also to add a couple of my favorites:

“skygods, the fall of Pan Am.” By Robert Gandt. He also wrote “China Clipper” which is a good read.

“more than my share of it all” By Kelly Johnson

“North star over my shoulder” by Robert Buck

“A Cargo Pilot's Life- Tails from Corrosion Corner”
Book by Brett Lane

Book by Luann Grosscup and Neil Graham Hansen


24th Apr 2023, 03:52
Not to revive an old thread, but I was looking for a good read and ended up here. After spending $100 on books by page 2 of the thread, I stopped!

i just finished a friends copy on “Behind the Cockpit Door,” by Arthur Whitlock. What a great read! I wanted to buy my own copy but WOW… not cheap on the used market.

I'll agree with that! I got my copy in a second-hand bookshop for less than the price of a beer. The author was a pretty good artist too, his drawings really added colour to the words.
I'd recommend Murray Peden's A Thousand Shall Fall, too. A well-written account of a Canadian bomber pilot's journey from cadet to operations. Nearly 500 pages to keep you occupied for a while. :cool:

24th Apr 2023, 08:12
i just finished a friends copy on “Behind the Cockpit Door,” by Arthur Whitlock. What a great read! I wanted to buy my own copy but WOW… not cheap on the used market.

I can second (third) that recommendation. The book is hard to find for a decent price though.
Have a look at 'Sky Talk' from Philip Hogge, volume 2 is also available:
Phillip did a talk at the Brooklands Museum last week about his career and his stories. They're all short stories based on true events but fictionalised.
Another enjoyable book is 'Flight from the Croft' by Bill Innes (https://amzn.to/3UYsDyP). I think it has been mentioned before.

24th Apr 2023, 12:43
Plus 1 for "Sky Talk" and "Flight from the Croft" and I'll add "A Concorde in my Toybox" by Mike Riley, well worth getting your hands on - two hands needed for it as it's quite a hefty tome! :)

24th Apr 2023, 16:43
'Explaining Humans' Camilla Pang

Although subtitled 'what science can teach us about life, love and relationships', it is an enjoyable read as an insight to 'self' as a CRM, Human Factor, Safety Management primer.

An instruction manual for humans.

Alternative title 'An Outsider's Guide to Humans: What Science Taught Me About What We Do and Who We Are'

24th Apr 2023, 17:59
Not to sure if this was on the list. Pure Luck : Biography of Sir Thomas Sopwith 1888 - 1989 I for one was amazed by the number planes from all the companies he was invited with. A very interesting read.

24th Apr 2023, 18:10
The Sopwith biography was a good read. His balloon exploits were interesting as well as his very strained relationship with the powers that be when made the logical decision to close factories at the end of World War one, which explains why he waited so long for a knighthood.

25th Apr 2023, 01:11

Thanks for posting Tommy Sopwith's biography. I've bought one from abe.com. There are several cheap hardcovers available - well, one less now!

25th Apr 2023, 06:28
I realised yesterday that I seem to have lost my copy , I might get another. Sopwith aircraft company did not last long but it of course became

25th Apr 2023, 08:41
"Gun Button To Fire" by Tom Neil.

Staggeringly good. His description of shooting down a Messerschmidt (his first confirmed kill) is remarkable.

Ernest Gann's "Island in the Sky" is breathtaking. A novel that grew out of his story (In "Fate is the Hunter") of the C54 lost over Canada which put down on a frozen lake. The aeroplane's flight into impending danger, carburetors icing up, fuel running low, no idea where they are.The airframe icing up and the way he describes the Captain's thought processes and the conclusion he draws as he runs out of options must surely represent some of the finest aviation prose you will ever read. I defy anyone to read that chapter without experiencing the cold chill of icy fear running down your spine as you turn each page. Unbelievable.
In fact anything Gann wrote is worth a read. "Twilight for the Gods" about an obsolete sailing vessel on its last voyage. Magnificent.

25th Apr 2023, 09:21
Agree with Behind the Cockpit Door, it’s one of my favourite books and I’m fortunate to have a signed copy by Arthur Whitlock. Tiger Tales by Vern Moldrem …..an anecdotal history of Flying Tigers is absolutely brilliant. Also With my Head in the Clouds by Gwyn Mullett parts 1 and 2 ……a BOAC/BA Captains memoir. The Self-Improver and Still Improving by Nick Eades, again a BA Captains memoirs. Anything by Rick Drury. Of course First Light…..the best Fighter Pilot’s memoir ever written by Geoffrey Wellum. It’s bomber equivalent No Moon Tonight by Don Charlwood which is the best Bomber Crew memoir I’ve ever read. Anything by Don McVicar, particularly Ferry Command and North Atlantic Cat. Where he recalls his time as a Ferry Pilot during the War. And many more.

OJ 72
25th Apr 2023, 11:24
I would echo sorvad's recommendation for 'No Moon Tonight'. When I was the 'Tame Crab' (sic) :) attached to an Army Brigade HQ, I lent the Brigadier a copy and he said that it was probably the best book about the RAF in WWII that he had ever read.

However, in 1991 Don Charlwood brought out a 'companion piece' if you will to 'No Moon Tonight' entitled 'Journeys Into Night'. This book expands on the experiences recounted in the earlier book, but, more than that, it is a sort of 'gloves off' version of 'No Moon Tonight'. By that I mean when 'No Moon Tonight' was first published in 1956 wartime memories were still raw and Charlwood, necessarily, bowdlerised some of his experiences; he even admitted that some of the names had been altered to protect individual sensitivities. However, by 1991 he believed that the time was right for a full and frank retelling of his wartime 'journey' (pun entirely intentional) hence he re-structured 'No Moon Tonight' and, 'Journeys Into Night' was the result.

I thoroughly recommend both books to anyone with an interest in wartime flying in general, and Bomber Command in particular!

PS... the fact that Don Charlwood was a Navigator in no way influenced my endorsement!! Honest...:= :ok:

25th Apr 2023, 12:30
I realised yesterday that I seem to have lost my copy , I might get another. Sopwith aircraft company did not last long but it of course became Hunter.

Hawker.....!! Yes, they did produce an a/c known as the Hunter !!!! 😉😉

25th Apr 2023, 12:37
Have s just clocked this on E-bay.....A Time to Fly: The Memoirs of Sir Alan Cobham Does anyone have any comments?
Considering investing £ 3:66 inc postage !!!

25th Apr 2023, 12:47
You can't go wrong with Sir Alan Cobham. A great writer - I've read 'Twenty-thousand Miles in a Flying Boat ' (1930) ' Australia and Back ' (1926) and have yet to take 'My Flight to The Cape and Back' (1926) down from the bookshelf. The last title tends to be expensive.

25th Apr 2023, 15:53
Have s just clocked this on E-bay.....A Time to Fly: The Memoirs of Sir Alan Cobham Does anyone have any comments?
Considering investing £ 3:66 inc postage !!!


The only comment I would make is that Ebay is a more risky market place than Advanced Book Exchange (http://abe.com). I've bought many books from the latter over the years and the books have always been as described.

25th Apr 2023, 19:15
Abe books are brilliant, I’ve bought many from them, but I think eBay these days are excellent too….lots of protections in place against being mis-sold. I just get them where I can find them…. Rapidly running out of room to keep them however!

25th Apr 2023, 20:11
Thank you, to the three of you....!! At £ 3.66 it is a major purchasing/investment decision so cannot afford any slip ups....!!!! 😀😀😀

I have mainly used E-bay and am pleased to say I have hardly had any problems/disappointments. Used ABE a couple of times, now know what it stands for , completes my education.....!! sorvad Much the same here. Should be thinning out collection not adding to it...!!! Cannot resist sometimes..😉😉

25th Apr 2023, 20:25
I like Abebooks a lot, but as it turns out, it's actually Amazon who owns it. I do hope they don't shut it down as they have done with a number of sites recently.

You can find good deals on a lot of sites, including Ebay.

12th May 2023, 02:56
So I just finished “Sky Talk” and “Sky Talk 2,” by Philip Hogge. I enjoy this period of aviation, and having started my career at TWA, I’ve heard many a tale of the “golden era” Anyway… looking on YouTube I just watched a presentation by Philip Hogge on BOAC by the Brooklands Museum. I hope you enjoy this as well.

BOAC link

12th May 2023, 09:06
I just had a browse on ABE books, and while the pricing is great ("4 dollars, 3.50 dollars") shipping is awfull, 20 dollars from the USA to the EU. Very expensive!

12th May 2023, 12:19
That's happened here, too.
It used to be possible to buy things from Ebay in the US but a few years ago the shipping costs suddenly became astronomical,

12th May 2023, 19:20
I’ve downloaded a couple of books from Sun Publishing after reading Sky Talk. I’ll be in the UK visiting my son this summer… any recommendations of where I can see the inside of a VC 10? I’ll be in Cambridge.

Aviation books (https://www.sunpub.info/aviation)

12th May 2023, 20:14
There's a VC10 at Duxford, belonging to the Duxford Aviation Society, which is really convenient from Cambridge, only just down the road.

They do open some of their airliners for tours, but from memory, it's only one or two at a time, and I don't know if the VC10 is one they open anyway.

The other option I know of is Brooklands but it's not very convenient from Cambridge and I seem to recall it's in VIP fit. Sultan of Oman?

13th May 2023, 03:32
There's a VC10 at Duxford, belonging to the Duxford Aviation Society, which is really convenient from Cambridge, only just down the road.

They do open some of their airliners for tours, but from memory, it's only one or two at a time, and I don't know if the VC10 is one they open anyway.

The other option I know of is Brooklands but it's not very convenient from Cambridge and I seem to recall it's in VIP fit. Sultan of Oman?

I’m just looking at Duxford Aviation Society. That looks like an amazing museum. Thank you.

13th May 2023, 19:28
I have a list of VC10s in museums here: https://www.vc10.net/History/preserved.html
the last two complete ones in that list are not currently available for viewing unfortunately.

13th May 2023, 21:13
I have a list of VC10s in museums here: https://www.vc10.net/History/preserved.html
the last two complete ones in that list are not currently available for viewing unfortunately.

fantastic site. Thank you.

14th May 2023, 00:19
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
Not many Seventeen year fighter pilots in WW2 , even fewer at the Battle of Britain .
One of the few .

14th May 2023, 04:40
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum ​​​​​​​

An excellent book, made into a very good movie:

14th May 2023, 05:21
cessnaxpilot, See your PMs, I have sent you one

14th May 2023, 09:15
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
Not many Seventeen year fighter pilots in WW2 , even fewer at the Battle of Britain .
One of the few .

Recommended on Page 1.
It became an instant classic when published.

14th May 2023, 15:51
+1 for a recommendation for Duxford..the USAF museum there is something else too!

28th Jul 2023, 11:13
I have a list of VC10s in museums here: https://www.vc10.net/History/preserved.html
the last two complete ones in that list are not currently available for viewing unfortunately.

so I couldn’t go, but my wife went with my son and they’re sending me photos of the VC-10 at the Imperial War Museum near Cambridge. I’m jealous of all the photos they are sending!

I think my wife is going to try to get my son a ride in a tiger moth. Meanwhile…. Someone in the family needs to stay behind and work :-)

thank you for the links

26th Feb 2024, 00:33
Brian Lecomber wrote three brilliant novels.Dead Weight.
Talk Down.
Turn Killer.

Pour a glass and start reading.

pax britanica
26th Feb 2024, 11:32
A different slant to flying and an interesting one are two books by Mark Vanhoenacker an airline pilot who is gay and writes about his life on the way to and on the flight deck time in certain global cities from a pilots viewpoint , not from the flight deck but as an airline pilot might see them little time there but often. Mark r is a Belgian-American Boeing 787 pilot with British Airways and is also frequent contributor for the New York Times, The two books I've read -audiobooks- Skyfaring and Imagine a City .were really good and with a different slant on aviation and flying the world

Yellow Sun
26th Feb 2024, 12:51
Four titles that go some way to describing the many faceted maritime role:

Ensor’s Endeavour by Vincent Orange (https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&cm_sp=SearchF-_-home-_-Results&ref_=search_f_hp&tn=Ensor%92s%20Endeavour%20)

Arctic Airmen by Schofield and Nesbit (https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=31437710099&searchurl=kn%3DArctic%2BAirmen%26sortby%3D17&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1)

Liberators Over The Atlantic by John and Richard Coleman (https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=31405889601&searchurl=kn%3DLiberators%2Bover%2Bthe%2BAtlantic%26sortby%3 D17&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title2)

Man Is Not Lost by D. Richardson (https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=22608679084&searchurl=xpod%3Doff%26bi%3D0%26ds%3D30%26bx%3Doff%26sortby% 3D17%26tn%3DMan%2Bis%2Bnot%2Blost%26an%3DRichardson%26recent lyadded%3Dall&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1)


26th Feb 2024, 15:54
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
Not many Seventeen year fighter pilots in WW2 , even fewer at the Battle of Britain .
One of the few .

An amazing guy. I had the exceptional pleasure of spending the day with him a few months before he died. I took him a copy of my book but found that he had bought one when it first came out.

We were being interviewed by the BBC and he got a bit fed up with some of the silly questions!


26th Feb 2024, 18:18
These e-books are available for free access:

Airway to the Isles (https://www.steemrok.com/airwayisles/airway.html)
Flight 935 Do You Read (https://www.steemrok.com/free/F935-eleanor.html)
The Sommerville Case (https://www.steemrok.com/free/sommervillefree.html)

27th Feb 2024, 05:17
Dilip Sarkar MBE has written some good books: Battle of Britain, Spitfire, WW2...He also is a guide for some Battle of Britain tours.
Nice chap, I know him.
HIs Bio and books (https://www.dilipsarkarmbe.com/)

Also the owner, Nigel Morter of the old Control Tower at RAF North Creake, near Wells, North Norfolk (which is now nice the most wonderful restored 1940's example of a Control Tower and B&B to stay at) has just penned a tribute book about the History of the Airfield, and the Airmen that flew from there, and their stories.
The new book is titled 'Control Tower Calling'

Nigel and his partner Claire who run the B&B are good pals of mine, and I have been staying there since they opened in 2014.
A short break at the B&B to immerse yourself in WW2 RAF Bomber Command History and 1940's Nostalgia is well worth it - and take a few good books with you!
Last weekend the Times featured an article about the Control Tower B&B.

The Control Tower B&B Nigel and Claire (https://www.controltowerstays.com/)

Times article on the B&B from last weekend. (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/i-go-back-to-this-b-and-b-in-east-anglia-every-year-heres-why-gq5vnw8bj)

tiny fireburn
17th Mar 2024, 13:57
Smithy - The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith by Ian Mackersey and Night Fighter by C F Rawnsley (John Cunningham's navigator in WW2) and Robert Wright