Straight & Level

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Fur-paying passenger? The recent story about a cat in the cockpit (Straight and Level, 17-23 August) has prompted Vasco O'Higgins, our Latin American correspondent, to relate the tale of a freeloading mouse that paid the ultimate price for a flight on a TAM Fokker 100. Vasco says "the flight was about five minutes short of its destination when one of the flight attendants noticed a white mouse on the floor of the forward galley area. Interrupting the pre-landing galley check, he removed one of his shoes and, with a well-aimed blow, dispatched the hapless rodent. Tossing the dead creature into the bin, the attendant made a mental note to write up a pest control inspection request for the daily check. After landing and after most of the passengers had disembarked, the flight attendant noticed a middle-aged woman crouching beside the seats. "Excuse me ma'am, can I help you?" he asked.

Self-loading cargo: "I know it's completely against the rules, but I brought my pet mouse with me and I seem to have lost it."

Uncle Roger's late summer bookshelf Frank Whittle - Invention Of The Jet In this unusual and fascinating book, Andrew Nahum challenges the oft-told story about how Sir Frank Whittle, the "father of the jet engine" struggled alone against the incompetence and hostility of the British government to develop his revolutionary invention. Nahum, curator of aeronautics at London's Science Museum, has delved deep into the archives and conducted interviews to unearth evidence which seems to provide a different, and refreshingly balanced historical perspective. Although some readers may find his views controversial at best, he explains why this myth may have developed against the background of wartime Britain and the fantastic strains then being imposed on every aspect of the aviation industry - including the aeroengine makers. Nahum also explains the enormous personal pressures on Whittle and his dedicated team, while providing illuminating examples of how Whittle's genius frequently clashed with the unwieldy and slow-moving machinery of government. The importance of Whittle's invention to the nation as a whole, and the government's many missed post-war opportunities, are also summarised. Published by Icon Books at www.iconbooks.co.uk ISBM 1 84046 538 7 and priced at UK Pounds 9.99. Spool-ups: fascinating details and unusual new perspectives. Surges: would have been nice to have had more detail and analysis of the post-war period. TAB rating: (X) Top shelf. () Middle shelf. () Bottom shelf.