I thought I would start a thread for suggesting / reviewing / recording any good aviation related books we've all found. If we include a bit of info it might make the books easier to find for the rest of us.
How about:book title, author, publisher, isbn, category (fiction / (auto)biography / educational) and a quick review?
I'm a conscientious man... when I throw rocks at seabirds I leave no tern unstoned. (Ogden Nash)
Et nom de dieu! C'est triste Orly la dimanche (Jacques Brel)
Title: Wings on my SleeveAuthor: Eric "Winkle" Brown Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006ISBN: ISBN 978-0297845652Category: Autobiography
Captain Eric Brown has the record of the most aircraft types flown. There's a longer profile of him in the 100 Greatest People section of the forum. The book is a straight retelling of his career, written in the relaxed matter of fact style of a man that has achieved as much as he has. Accompanying photographs are taken from his personal collection.
A good read and a staggering career.
Title: The Dam BustersAuthor: Paul BrickhillPublisher: Pan Grand Strategy (Reprinted 1999)ISBN: ISBN 0330376446 Category: Historical
This is a classic book from the author of Reach for the Sky and The Great Escape. Paul Brickhill was an Australian who flew with the RAF during the war and was in Stalag Luft III when the Great Escape happened (he was left behind due to claustrophobia). His book formed the basis of the Dambusters film, but don't think that if you know the film you know the book. The film only covers less than half of the book, which goes on to document the subsequent missions of 617 squadron. If you thought the Pathfinders were the RAF's most accurate team you need to read this to see what mastery 617 accomplished.
Title: Vulcan 607Author: Rowland WhitePublisher: Corgi Books (2007)ISBN: 0552152293 Category: Historical
If you were in the UK in the 1980s you knew all about the Falklands Conflict and the amazing reach of the RAF out to the other side of the world to place bombs on the runway at Port Stanley. What you probably didn't know at the time was the almost comic ends the RAF had to go to to place a single aircraft, months from retirement, with no proven in-flight refueling capability and a hit and miss navigation system on a single pass over the target. This book is well researched, well written and very entertaining. It is well worthy of the popularity it has achieved since release.
Title: Lost Voices of The Royal Air ForceAuthor: Max ArthurPublisher: Hodder & Stoughton Paperbacks (2005) ISBN: 0340838132 Category: Historical
This book is not so much written as assembled. It is a collection of recollections written by RAF men and women that served from WWII through to the present day. It is divided into chapters relating to a particular area of combat, or mission type, and has some interesting insights from one or two non-aircrew participants. You may recognize the names of some of the authors of the memoirs. A very good book to pick up and put down in small bursts as each memoir tends to be only a few pages.
Title: Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940Author: Patrick BishopPublisher: HarperPerennial; New Ed edition (2004) ISBN: 0006532047 Category: Historical
This is a great example of historical novel written to be entertaining. Well researched and full of detail, the text takes us through the Phoney war, the Battle for France and the Battle of Britain. This is no simple glorification of the the RAF at this time, it is a poigniant account with enough name and detail to draw you in, but not so much to get in the way of the flow of the text.
Title: Bomber Crew: Taking on the Reich Author: John Sweetman Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (2005) ISBN: 0349117969 Category: Historical
If you've never read any of the many books in this genre, as I hadn't, "Bomber Crew: Taking on the Reich" is an eye-opening account of RAF Bomber Command during WWII. Written in the same basic style as "Fighter Boys: Saving Britain 1940", it is sometimes a bit dry and less fluid to read than Patrick Bishop's work. Still, if you are working your way through the genre it is definately worth a look.
Title: MiG 1939-1989
Authors: R.A. Belyakov & J. Marmain
Publisher: Editions Larivière (Collection DOCAVIA n. 33 - 1991)
and the english language edition :
Title: MiG - Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design
Publisher: Naval Institute Press - 1994
From the Foreword of the english language edition :
"Who would have thought that one of the most secret sanctuaries of world military affairs, the MiG design bureau, would open its doors and allow material from its archives to be published in the West?
It took the clear-sightedness of one of the most important figures in the Soviet aerospace industry, R.A. Belyakov, combined with the obstinacy - and patience - of a French journalist and expert on Soviet aviation, Jacques Marmain.
It took two years of negotiations to overcome the many difficulties raised by this project, especially the declassification of thousands of documents, figures, and photographs - a process complicated by the very poor state of the Soviet communication network."
From the Acknowledgements :
"..... All illustrations, with very few exceptions (and these are duly noted), come from the MiG OKB archives.
You will not find in this book any of those conditional sentences, unwarranted suppositions, and pure inventions usually found in books - including the newest - dealing with Soviet Aviation.
Each fact, each figure, and each picture have been checked and cross-checked by the authors and the MiG engineers ....."
Title - Dark Eagles: A History of Top Secret US Aircraft
Author - Curtis Peebles
Publisher - Presidio Press
ISBN - 978-0891416968
Category - Historical
It's been a while since I read this one but I recall it being an excellent history of the development of secretive USAF aircraft from the forties up to the eighties covering the XP-59A, U2, A-12 Oxcart & SR-71 Blackbird, Have blue and the F-117 Nighthawk, D-21 Tagboard as well as the testing of MiGs "obtained" through various means. It's essentially a history of Area 51 that cuts through all the conspiracy and UFO stuff and gets straight to the heart of the matter - the aircraft and the men that built and flew them.
My wings are like a shield of steel.
Title: Valkyrie - North American's Mach 3 Superbomber
Authors: Dennis R. Jenkins & Tony R. Landis
Publisher: Specialty Press - 2004
The best book about this outstanding aircraft .....
From the Authors' Preface :
"However, there was another Mach 3 design, one that was a good deal larger and four times heavier than the Blackbird.
Perhaps even more futuristic looking, the North American Aviation B-70 Valkyrie was the culmination of General Curtis LeMay's quest for the ultimate strategic bomber.
During the 40 years since it first appeared, the airplane has developed an almost-cult following all out-of-proportion to its ultimate use."
Title: 50 Years of the U-2 - The Complete Illustrated History of the "Dragon Lady"
Author: Chris Pocock
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. - 2005
The definitive (?) book about the U-2 ..... surely a monumental work !
From the Foreword by Major General Pat Halloran, USAF (retd.) .
..... Kelly called it the "Angel." The Agency referred to it as the "Article," and the Air Force named it the "Dragon Lady." However, for 50 years, the bad guys of the world simply called it the dreaded U-2 Spy Plane. It was a name that aptly described the design, the mission and the legend .....
Title: Challenge to Apollo The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974
Author: Asif A. Siddiqi
Publisher: NASA History Division - 2000 (SP-2000-4408)
The hard cover book was republished in 2003 in a two volume paperback version by the University press of Florida.
The first in depth analysis of the early Soviet space program ..... not many photos, but more than 1000 pages of text. Surprising !
From the author's preface :
"As astonishing as it may seems, the story of the Soviet space program, the world's first, has never been told in full. That is not to say that much has not been written on the topic. Western researchers during the 1970s and 1980s were able to interpret official exhortations in the Soviet press and discern some logic in the inner workings of the Soviet space program. All of these works had one major drawback: they were written at a time when the Soviets mantained very strict control over information, especially any that portrayed the space effort in a negative light. Many "facts" - that is, the raw skeleton of the story - were missing. All we had were accounts from the official Soviet media and rumor or speculation from unconfirmed sources - or a combination of both. Thus the range of issues that Western or even Soviet historians could address was severely limited."
Title: EXPERIMENTAL & PROTOTYPE U.S. Air Force Jet Fighters
Authors: Dennis R. Jenkins & Tony R. Landis
Publisher: Specialty Press - 2008
At first glance .....
I received this book from the U.S. this morning, just published, so my examination was necessarily superficial.
The books covers the development and flight test of every jet fighter developed for the U.S. Air Force, beginning with the Bell XP-59A Airacomet and ending with the Joint Strike Fighter.
As previous books by these authors, this also is crammed with beautiful and interesting photos, many of them (and I am saying MANY) never published before and some even labelled "secret" or "confidential".
All told, it seems to be a work worthy of attention.
From the Authors' preface :
"..... This is not intended to be the ultimate or final history of experimental and prototype Air Force jet fighters. The project actually began as a photo scrapbook, intended to show seldom-seen photographs of these aircraft. While searching for photos in various archives, new data was uncovered about many of the designs, so we decided to expand the project and provide a limited narrative on each type, as well as some explanation about why the Air Force believed it needed the aircraft to begin with, and the ultimate outcome of each program. In some case, we were able to correct discrepancies in previous published reports. Other times, we may have erred, since our research was not exhaustive. We therefore caution the reader to use this book as a source, not necessarily the source ....."
Title: Man on the Moon - The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts
Author: Andrew Chaikin
Publisher: Penguin Books
This book is not too technical and focuses on the people involved over the technology whilst still giving you a grasp of what a technological undertaking it truly was. It starts with the Apollo 1 fire and then covers all of the missions (Though some in a great deal more detail than others) as well as explaining things I'd never considered such as the Astronauts geology lessons.
For someone like me - I have an interest in the Apollo missions but don't want to be deluged with figures and dates - it's required reading. If you can't be arsed to read the book then I'd also recommend the Tom Hanks produced TV series that was based on it.
Batfink:This book is not too technical and focuses on the people involved over the technology whilst still giving you a grasp of what a technological undertaking it truly was.
I've just read through my own postand think I deserve some kind of prize (Or possibly a dunce hat) for getting the words technical, technology and technological all in one sentence.
Title: Project Cancelled - A searching criticism of the abandonment of Britain's advanced aircraft projects
Author: Derek Wood
Publisher: Macdonald & Jane's (London - 1975)
ISBN: 0 356 08109 5
This is the cover of the American edition published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1975 ..... but the aircraft's half front-view looks somewhat Soviet .....(or not?)
Bill Gunston wrote an extensive review which appeared in "Flight International" (7 August 1975 issue):
Title: Secret Sentries in Space
Author: Philip J. Klass
Publisher: Random House - New York (1971)
The first look inside the black world of secret spy satellite technology by Philip J. Klass, then senior "avionics" editor for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine (a current and popular term he coined blending the words AVIation and electrONICS).
From the Author's Introduction:
The existence, and purpose, of the clandestine spaceships "that pass in the night" have long been known to officials in both the U.S. and the USSR. The fact that neither nation, especially the Soviet Union, has attempted to destroy the reconaissance satellites of the other attests to their mutual benefit. This tacit understanding also shows the recognition by both superpowers that the thermonuclear-tipped ICBM, which can destroy the vitals of any nation in a matter of minutes and possibly alter the earth's environment for centuries, has drastically changed the ground rules under which the game of geopolitics must be played.
It is ironic, that while the Soviets are fully aware of the American reconaissance-satellite program, and its effectiveness, the U.S. public has been denied even the barest details of the program by its own government. In the fall of 1961, as the Samos satellites began to achieve an operational status, the Kennedy admnistration dropped a very heavy cloak of secrecy around the program. Even the name "Samos" could no longer be used in government publications. It became a "non-word" in the best tradition of the George Orwell Book 1984 .
Title: At the Edge of Space - The X-15 Flight Program
Author: Milton O. Thompson
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press - 1992
From the Foreword (by Neil A. Armstrong)
The X-15 was to be capable of a speed of 6,600 feet per second and an altitude of 250,000 feet. It was to carry a pilot and a payload of 800 pounds of research instruments and recorders. At the time it seemed audacious. It had taken half a century for aircraft to reach Mach 2 and 80,000 feet. Now one new design would attempt to triple those achievements.
The X-15 would accomplish all its goals and more. In 199 flights over nearly a decade, it would become the most successful research airplane in history. But there is much more than numbers to that story.
Milt Thompson tells that "much more" in At the Edge of Space. And he is well qualified to spin the yarn. He was a participant in the program throughout the X-15's career: as engineer, research scientist, and X-15 pilot. He brings vitality and vibrancy to a tale that bears retelling. He tells of the people, the triumphs, and the tragedies as observed from the inside of the project.
The X-15 no longer carves giant trajectories over southwestern deserts; no longer plunges earthward and slides to a stop on the dry lakebed at Edwards, California. The X-15 is long retired to museum status, a primitive pathfinder in the conquest of space. But history will record its legacy: a large ring of keys for unlocking the mysteries of future flight.
Title: The First Space Race
Authors: Matt Bille and Erika Lishock
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
The Foreword by James A. Van Allen (1914-2006) .....
This book is an entrancing account of the technological and political race between the United States and the Soviet Union to launch satellites of the Earth.
On the one hand, it is a well-written and readily readable story of the clashes of strong minded personalities, of heroes and their rivals, of competing organizations within each nations, and of failures and successes. It develops the subject as an international mystery tale, which a reader is reluctant to lay aside lest the next few pages reveal crucial elements of the unfolding plot.
On the other hand, it is a scholarly work of undeniable authenticity. It may well be the definitive chronicle of the "first space race." The authors have woven together material from an evenhanded and comprehensive scrutiny of primary documents and from personl interviews with surviving participants. These sources are footnoted unobtrusively, yet thoroughly, and suggestion for further reading are offered.
Even participants in the famous space race, as I was, will gain a much improved context for their own fragmentary knowledge. The authors convey a detailed perspective of grand aspirations and heroic endeavors. Above all, the authors provide participants and non-participants alike, as well as their progeny, with insight into a prominent feature of the U.S./U.S.S.R. Cold War and into the way that the space race served as a peaceful proxy for destructive military conflict.
In 1686, Sir Isaac Newton published a clear explication of the physical principle of propelling objects into orbit about the Earth. He would have treasured this book on how the feat was eventually accomplished.
"The First Space Race" was published in 2004 .....