Aviation book recommendations

Just call me Ray

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26 August 2007
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I'm looking for a few gifts for the upcoming season and I'd like to know some recommendations for aviation-related books, both fiction and nonfiction. And, uh, because I'm particularly lazy I don't have a lot of time before I'd need to hear these suggestions :p
My favorite non-fiction book - The Big Show, by Pierre Clostermann. It's got all the dogfighting action that you can find in other biographies (Rudel, Hartmann, Galland, Yeager, Boyington, etc., but the guy was actually also a very good writer. I own two copies, the 2000 edition has a few extra pages.
i have Gregory "Pappy" Boyington - L'asso della Bottiglia an italian traduction of Baa Baa Black Sheep by Tea ,
of awesome editor , Stephen E.Ambrose Tigri in Battaglia - original title the Wild Blue
and Saburo Sakai - Samurai! - original title Samurai! ( afraid eh ? :D)
site of Tea is www.tealibri.it ::)
Modesty forbids me to recommend the book series British Built Aircraft, which is a regional survey of aircraft manufacturers in Britain from 1908 to ~2005.

Other good books: Slide Rule Neville Shute, Alone across the Tasman Sea - Francis Chichester, plus any of those listed below (with an unashamedly historical eye):

Adventure with Fate, Harald Penrose, Airlife (1984)
British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall, Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2001)
British Light Aeroplanes – Their Evolution, Development and Perfection 1920 – 1940, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)
First Through the Clouds, F. Warren Merriam (B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1954)
The Flight of the Mew Gull, Alex Henshaw (John Murray, 1980)
The Forgotten Pilots, Lettice Curtis (Nelson Saunders, third edition, 1985)
Sigh for a Merlin, Alex Henshaw, Crécy Publishing, 1999 reprint
Spitfire - A Test Pilot’s Story, J.K. Quill (John Murray, 1983)
The Story of the British Light Aeroplane, Terence Boughton (John Murray, 1963)
Ultralights - The Early British Classics, Richard Riding (Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1987)
Jet Jockeys: Flying the RAF's First Jet Fighters by Peter Caygill
Thud Ridge and Going Downtown by COL Jack Broughton Best books on fixed wings in the Vietnam War

Chickenhawk By Robert Mason Best book on Army helicopter combat in the Vietnam war. Avoid the sequel

Seawolves by Daniel E. Kelley Cover a part of the use of helicopters in that war that not that many people know about.

The above are all aviation combat memoirs.

Tomcat; Crusader; Feet Wet; Vulture's Row by RADM Paul T. Gillcrist

anything by Jay Miller

any SR-71 book by Paul Crickmore

any SR-71 book by COL Richard Graham

Strike from the Sea and US Naval Air Superiority by Tommy Thomason

Any aviation book by Richard Bach

Any aviation book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann

Addition (because I forgot to put it in before)

Apache by Ed Macy. As far as I know, the only detailed book about how the Apache helicopter is used day to day as opposed to a technical treatise on how it works or a "Gee Whiz" Popular Science type of description. It's written by a British pilot who flew it in Afghanistan and really gets into the "meat" of how this aircraft flies and is operated. Although he flew the Apache Mk1, which is arguably superior to other models of the Apache, what he writes comes straight across to other users. There are a number of surprises in there that have relevance elsewhere as well.

It's not a book, but the DVD "Speed and Angels" is highly recommended.
I'll second Mascaret's recommendation of Slide Rule by Neville Shute as an excellent book, though I'm not sure it's available outside second-hand stores at the moment. As both history and autobiography, it's an absolutely fascinating work.

If I may editorialize for a moment, in this time of "Government Motors", his description of private vs. public enterprise (R.100 vs R.101) is a most enlightening and educational read.
I'd also second F-14D: Fate is the Hunter (Gann), Wind Sand and Stars (Exupery), anything by Jay Miller (a personal friend of mine) - Skunk Works or X-Planes - absolutely meticulous.

The Shepherd (more of a short story) by Frederick Forsyth - really excellent
Mascaret said:
I'd also second F-14D: Fate is the Hunter (Gann), Wind Sand and Stars (Exupery), anything by Jay Miller (a personal friend of mine) - Skunk Works or X-Planes - absolutely meticulous.

The Shepherd (more of a short story) by Frederick Forsyth - really excellent

One thing about Skunk Works to keep in mind. It's an exceptional book by an exceptional man. Going through it (I read it when it first came out and don't remember the details) you might find a few things in there that seem to be wrong or seem contradictory. Don't be put off by them Keep in mind he was working on it at the end of his life (he died a year before it was published) when he was very ill, so there was not a lot of time to polish it and for his coauthor to re-ask certain questions or verify certain things.

That said, it's a very worthwhile book and we're lucky to have it.
"Sea Harrier Over the Falklands: A Maverick at War" by Sharkey Ward is an excellent book about this aircraft, fighter combat, naval aviation and the Falklands War written by one of the squadron commanders and the guy known in the RN of the time as "Mr Sea Harrier".
"Inside the Iron Works: How Grumman's GLory Days Faded" by George M. Skurla is an excellent insight to the aircraft and weapons building industry by someone who went from drafting table engineer in WW2 to CEO in the 80s.

And before he discovered how profitable being just another writer of turgid thrillers two combat tour veteran and DFC winner Stephen Coonts wrote some great novels about US Navy carrier operations. “Flight of the Intruder” and “The Intruders” are both good.
Red Eagles (America's Secret MiG's) by Steve Davies.


I got it as a result of seeing a recommendation on here and really liked it. It's well researched and carefully written. When I say carefully I mean he stays within his brief (the declassified CONSTANT PEG, and the RED EAGLES at Tonopah - as opposed to the RED HATS) and therefore away from any speculation and internet rumour regarding other programs or aircraft which might have been flown from Groom. Also with respect to the vital role of the maintainers in the program, and some controversy around that.
'Chickenhawk' by Robert Mason for Rotary Wing.


An astonishingly honest, down to earth and well written book about his time as a Huey pilot in Vietnam.
Really good book on Trident program

here the story of the most fantastic French program


Only 300 books ... jum on them before the disparition !

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