If you read this blog you are probably an aviation aficionado so I will therefore turn you on to some of the better aviation literature available. Amazon delivers in 3-4 days so if you need a last minute “stocking stuffer” it can arrive before Xmas. Many of these books will also be available at your local “brick and mortar” book stores and will likely be available as an EBook. In no particular order the suggested books for the 2011 holiday season is as follows:
- Rules of Engagement by Joe Weber: An adrenalin-pumping, scintillating account of the air war over North Viet Nam and carrier operations in the gulf of Tonkin. Guaranteed to get the pulse-racing with descriptions of combat encounters, the author has also woven into the mix a poignant love story with the fighter-pilot protagonist showing his soft side. The transition from down-and-dirty combat to touching love scenes is a nice touch. Joe Weber’s other Southeast Asia war novel is titled, Targets of Opportunity. (www.joewebernovels.com)
- Squawk 7700 by Peter Buffington is a great expose’ of the life as a pilot with the regional air carriers. It points out that the low pay and poor working conditions of the “commuter pilot” can be nearly draconian. It is an eye-opening revelation of the dark-under-belly of commercial aviation as it extrapolates on the brilliant investigative journalism done by PBS and Miles O’Brien in the Frontline special, Flying Cheap. (www.squaw7700.com)
- For the granddaddy of aviation investigative reporting one must read The Real Unfriendly Skies by Rodney Stich. This book takes the reader back about a half century and points out the despicable practice of “pencil-whipping” pilot training records and the good-old-boy mentality that pervaded the airline environment, resulting in numerous fatal airline crashes. Author Rodney Stich was a training captain and FAA examiner who dedicated himself to ridding the airline environment from unscrupulous management that put the profit factor well ahead of the safety factor. The reader of this book will find out how difficult it can be for a whistle-blower who is trying to do the noble thing and will cast an ugly shadow on numerous government agencies.
- On the other side of the spectrum, the aviation reader can tune into aviation comics with Chicken Wings by Michael and Stefan Strasser. (www.chickenwingscomics.com). The award-winning Chicken Wings comics are published in many aviation journals. Another source of good laughs is Please Wait to be Seated by Martin Leeuwiss.
- The Great Santini by the great renowned writer Pat Conroy is a classic story of the macho military man alienating his children with DI tactics at the dinner table. This moving story of a father-son relationship was made in to a movie of the same name. Both the book and the movie are don’t-miss items.
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is an enduring classic that enshrines aviation as a morally-enhancing experience that transcends the aviator to a mythical level. It is a nice premise but as the cliché goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.” Nonetheless, it is a pleasant reading experience.
- Fate is The Hunter by Ernest Gann is an aviation classic that nearly every airplane book reader has enjoyed. If you have not read it, I suggest that you put it on your list.
- The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation by Ace Abbot was recently deemed (by the author) to be “one of the greatest aviation stories ever told.” It covers a lot of bases in the world of aviation and is both informative and humorous as well. (www.therogueaviator.com)