Ernest K. Gann, in his day, was one of those aviators with a gift for conveying to the general reader the thrills and perils of flying. And in "BLAZEErnest K. Gann, in his day, was one of those aviators with a gift for conveying to the general reader the thrills and perils of flying. And in "BLAZE OF NOON", he succeeds brilliantly.
The story begins in September 1925 with the 4 McDonald brothers (Roland, Keith, Tad, and Colin) demonstrating their flying skills at a county fair in Iowa. This is the era of barnstorming, when active pilots, many of them --- like Roland the oldest brother --- First World War veterans who first experienced flight in a flimsy Curtiss Jenny trainer at one of the Army stateside airfields hastily created after America's entry into the war and later became either instructors or seasoned combat pilots over the Western Front. After the war, being enamored of flying and at a loss what to do in civilian life, several of these pilots found ways to keep aloft. Barnstorming, despite being a precarious livelihood, offered the way out of a life lived in the doldrums.
Aviation was a wide-open endeavor in the U.S. during the early to mid-1920s. But by the time the reader meets the MacDonald brothers, it is becoming increasingly clear to Roland that barnstorming is losing its appeal. (Aviation is fast becoming a serious business, with the federal government establishing rigorous standards for pilots, mechanics, and aircraft manufacturers.) He persuades his brothers to follow him to New Jersey, where he meets up with Mike Gafferty, an old friend and fellow aviator who runs a business flying mail for the Post Office Department from New Jersey to Upstate New York and Northeast Ohio.
Though now assured of steady paychecks and a more settled way of life, the MacDonald brothers find that the risks inherent with pitting a Pitcairn Mailwing radial-engine biplane against the vagaries of the weather can exact a high cost. For instance, one night when Roland is hard pressed to arrive at his destination with a load of mail, he makes a calculated gamble while in the midst of a menacing storm front in winter. "He patted the pint of whisky and thought of Albany as he gritted his teeth and pulled up into the low overcast. Then he concentrated with all his will on the turn-and-bank instrument, relating it to his compass, which for a time held obligingly at eighty-five degrees. When he reached three thousand feet he leveled off - or assumed he did, since the altimeter and air speed held steady. Now would come the test, not of the theory but of himself. He would have to endure this new and strange flying sensation for exactly twenty-one minutes. Then, according to his figures, he could let down until he broke out of the overcast and Rochester would be just ahead. He had only to hold his course and believe the instruments before him."
This is nail-biting stuff! There is also romance, brotherly devotion, and a few snippets of life characteristic of the 1920s.
Reading "BLAZE OF NOON" has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. I highly recommend it to any reader who loves thrill-seeking tales....more
This concise book represents the story of a unique individual. Marion E. Carl was, perhaps, one of the finest aviators who ever lived - FULL STOP. A nThis concise book represents the story of a unique individual. Marion E. Carl was, perhaps, one of the finest aviators who ever lived - FULL STOP. A natural pilot, he soloed after 2 hours of dual instruction. He later went on to become the U.S. Marine Corps' first fighter ace, seeing action at the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal during the Second World War. (A little more than 20 years later, Carl commanded a Marine combat air wing in Vietnam, flying several missions himself.)
Carl became known for achieving a number of "firsts." He became the first Marine to fly a helicopter, the first Marine to land a jet on an aircraft carrier, and he also set a number of altitude and speed records. Carl also was an outstanding test pilot, and by the time, he retired from the USMC (United States Marine Corps), he had flown 14,000 flight hours. ...more
This is the author's Korean War memoir. Through his university studies, Leue joined the U.S. Navy's V-5 program, and trained as a fighter pilot, winniThis is the author's Korean War memoir. Through his university studies, Leue joined the U.S. Navy's V-5 program, and trained as a fighter pilot, winning his wings in late 1949. He learned to fly the vaunted Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair of World War II fame and shares with the reader the wealth of his combat experiences aboard aircraft carriers between 1950 and 1952. By the time Leue was tour-expired, he had transitioned to jets, flying the F9F-2 Panther fighter on flak suppression missions against Chinese and North Korean forces.
As a way of rounding out the memoir, Leue shares with the reader in the final chapter the crystallization of his decidedly right-wing views on the Cold War since his service in Korea. This is the first Korean War memoir I've come across and it was very much well-worth reading. Leue takes the reader with him in the cockpit so that you, the reader, can vicariously experience the thrills and hazards of flying and combat. ...more
"Vietnam Combat: An Attack Pilot's Diary" is David E. Leue's way of rounding out his naval career, which began in 1948, when he entered flight trainin"Vietnam Combat: An Attack Pilot's Diary" is David E. Leue's way of rounding out his naval career, which began in 1948, when he entered flight training under the U.S. Navy's V-5 Program. He takes the reader from the early 1960s, when he had served aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, successfully completed a course at the Armed Forces Staff College (Norfolk, VA), to extended combat service in Vietnam from the Spring of 1965 to December 1966.
Again Leue has an unerring knack for conveying to the reader the thrills and risks associated with flying high-performance jet aircraft on day and night missions deep inside North Vietnam. Following his Vietnam service, Leue served in a training command, and did staff work in the Pentagon. Shortly thereafter, he retired from the Navy and, between 1985 and 1990, served as a professor at Fresno State University. ...more
This book represents one of the few available that was written by one of the many foreign volunteers who made their way to the new State of Israel toThis book represents one of the few available that was written by one of the many foreign volunteers who made their way to the new State of Israel to help defend it against its Arab neighbors during its War of Independence in 1948. For that reason alone, "The Desert Hawks" (which refers to the name the Arab ground forces gave to the Messerschmitt fighters in the Israeli Air Force) is a priceless resource for anyone interested in the early history of the modern Jewish State.
Nomis, who had flown fighters with both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) during the Second World War, had been doing some crop dusting and barnstorming work as a pilot for hire when the Israeli War of Independence broke out in May 1948. With the help of the Jewish Agency for Palestine in New York, Nomis is able to get to Israel, where for most of the year, he experiences limited combat service with 101 Squadron, flying Messerschmitts (which the Israelis had acquired from Czechoslovakia, where Nomis spent a few days learning to fly them) and Spitfires. In Nomis' own words: "I was sympathetic to the cause and the plight of the new Jewish State from day one and contacted the Jewish Agency - within five days I was aboard a Constellation which had been requisitioned by Jewish sources and scheduled to be smuggled to Czechoslovakia."
Nomis also conveys to the reader (from notes he had made at the time of his service in Israel) a sense of the daily lives of his comrades and people he had met both on and off base in places as diverse as Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jaffa.
"The Desert Hawks" is a rare gem describing a time in history in which most of its direct participants are fast fading away. For that reason, it is a book well worth reading. ...more
As cited by some other reviewers, this book, in terms of research and attention to detail, offers the reader a comprehensive history of the uphill strAs cited by some other reviewers, this book, in terms of research and attention to detail, offers the reader a comprehensive history of the uphill struggle that took place within the U.S. Army and Congress between the wars to establish an Army Air Corps as an essential and indispensible element in national defense. (This was a struggle not unlike what advocates of the aircraft carrier faced during the same era against the established "battleship minded" senior naval officer ruling class in the U.S. Navy.) ...more
Though an embellished memoir, "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE" is a rare jewel, for it is one of few books of its kind written by a veteran of the AlliThough an embellished memoir, "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE" is a rare jewel, for it is one of few books of its kind written by a veteran of the Allied intervention in Southern Russia (1919-20) in aid of the White forces fighting the Bolsheviks.
The book begins with the author celebrating the Armistice on November 11th, 1918 with his squadron mates in a private men's club in London. Aten, an American, came late to the war as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was nursing a broken arm from a flying accident. Now recuperating, Aten is approached by his squadron commander, Raymond Collishaw (one of Canada's top aces) with an offer to join him and a group of other pilots who have volunteered to join a British military mission to Russia to assist the "White" armies under General Anton Ivanovich Denikin in their fight to drive Lenin and the Bolsheviks (also known as "Reds") from power.
Aten, somewhat at a loss as a lot of young veterans were whose lives were caught up in the war, eagerly accepts the offer. Via a roundabout route by train and ship and somewhat belatedly (owing to his long recovery period in hospital), Aten arrives in Southern Russia in the summer of 1919. For the remainder of the year, Aten is among a group of airmen flying missions (in his Sopwith Camel fighter) in support of the Whites near the Volga River and over Tsaritsyn (later renamed Stalingrad).
At the time of Aten's arrival in Russia, the Whites have the Reds on the run and are confident that they will oust the Reds and be in Moscow by Christmas 1919. But due to some key strategic errors in judgment, a series of political miscalculations, and disagreements between Generals Denikin and Wrangel (who was junior to Denikin and probably the best military leader the Whites had, widely respected and admired by the men under his command), the Whites become overextended and the Allies decided to withdraw their support. The Reds, in the meantime, despite heavy losses, receive infusions of arms and recruits who come to outnumber the Whites and push them towards the Crimea and the Black Sea.
This is a story full of adventure, interspersed with romance that ends in tragedy. The book also has a glossary of Russian words and phrases commonly used in "LAST TRAIN OVER ROSTOV BRIDGE", short biographies of the key people most often mentioned by Aten in the text, an excellent map of the region in Russia where Aten saw action, as well as several interesting photos of Aten and his squadron mates, and of Southern Russia during that period. There are also "Notes on the Text", which are very helpful in explaining, chapter by chapter, many key aspects of Aten's experiences in Russia. All in all, I very much enjoyed reading this book, which I heartily recommend to anyone who loves to read a well-written, gripping tale. ...more