Archive for Book Review

Book Review – Immediate Response

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Regular readers (aren't you all!!) have probably realised that I'm working my way through all the books with some association to military helicopters and recent conflicts. The predominance of these are centered around Afghanistan and my latest read, Immediate Response, by Maj. Mark Hammond is no exception.

Hammond is a Chinook pilot and in this book he recalls some of his missions, typically flying sorties into major battles that coalition forces were engaged in with the Taliban, and usually to medivac  wounded soldiers. As I’ve come to learn from reading other similar books including Apache, Apache Dawn and Hellfire, the Taliban were after a Chinook. They wanted nothing more than to down one of these beasts, which they referred to as a ‘cow’, in order for them to claim a PR victory. I’m certain they would have been happy with downing any aircraft but for some reason they were after a Chinook. Quite how they think they could claim any sort of victory downing what is essentially a medical helicopter is beyond me but we’re getting political now! Read More→


HellfireThey say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but I’ve read about something that matches that, plus some. After reading this book I was convinced that hell definitely hath no fury like a hellfire missile launched from an Apache helicopter – and given, the choice, I’ll take the bad scorned woman any day of the week.

Hellfire is Ed Macy’s second book, the first being Apache, and both are about…..err the Apache Attack helicopter. Hellfire is the named of their most effective missile and is so called because of it’s mission capability it’s a HELIcopter FIRE and forget Air to Ground missile. Mr Macy has managed to write another book that really makes you believe that you are sat looking over his shoulder whilst he engages the enemy in Afghanistan. It’s a fast ride through some of his missions and at one point I considered ducking as he described being engaged by a twin barrelled anti aircraft gunner on the ground.

The intensity of battle is remarkable and I have often said that all of these guys deserve a lot more than medals for the time they spend doing their stuff in theatre. One thing is for sure, the Apache is a formidable attack helicopter and Ed’s second book further extols the choppers fighting capabilities.

Hellfire is now available in most good book stores and is, in my opinion, a must read.

I learned about flying from that…..

Fatal Traps

You don’t really learn to fly until after you’ve passed your test and gone off and done some things – and even then you need a few close shaves to build up your experience.

In my time I’ve had warning lights and strange noises requiring me to make precautionary landings in a field. I’ve done weather diversions, had doors open in flight, a few close calls on start-up and recently I started the engine with one of my inlet covers still in. Thankfully none of these are too serious but I’ve learned something from all of them.

Read More→



I’ve always been told that Robert C Mason’s book telling of his time in Vietnam was a ” must read” for any aspiring helicopter pilot. I’d been struggling to track a copy down, but eventually managed to find one at Amazon of all places. The book is indeed a remarkable account of life fighting the Vietnamese and is well worth reading.

The pilots and their machines were tested to the limit and the book is written in such a way that you can identify with what Mason would have been going through. Flights in IMC conditions, and aircraft flown to the very edges, i not beyond, the envelope plus stuff that simply isn’t in any book flight training manual anywhere. I can only begin to imagine some of the confined areas that they had to get in and out of, but suffice to say that there was plenty of tree top chopping. Those rotor blades must have taken some punishment!

You’re unlikeley to come away with many tips (except don’t be a pilot in the Vietnam war) unless of course you’re not too bothered about trashing the chopper you are flying, but I have to acknowledge, that if you haven’t read it – you’re not a helicopter pilot!

Mason has his own website which can be found here.