Tag Archives: Autobiography

RAF “Special Duties” Pick-Ups In France: Three Memoirs

The whole of the effort put into pick-up operations in France throughout the war—measured by aircraft and personnel costs—was minute. In a well proportioned history of World War Two it might deserve a sentence or a footnote. And yet it is hard to imagine how the irregular forces in France could have developed to anything … Continue reading RAF “Special Duties” Pick-Ups In France: Three Memoirs

Arthur Conan Doyle In The Arctic

It is bloody work dashing out the poor little beggars’ brains while they look up with their big dark eyes into your face. Arthur Conan Doyle, Arctic diary entry, 3 April 1880 In February 1880, a third-year medical student from Edinburgh abandoned his studies, temporarily, to sign on as the ship’s doctor of the S.S. … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle In The Arctic

Arthur Gould Lee: No Parachute & Open Cockpit

I reflect on how amazing it is that I’m here at all, sailing along nearly three miles up in a flimsy contraption made of wood and quivering fabric, suspended on air, sustained only by the wind rushing under the wings. I think how not long ago the aeroplane didn’t exist at all, no man had … Continue reading Arthur Gould Lee: No Parachute & Open Cockpit

Eric Brown: Wings On My Sleeve

A new hydraulic-pneumatic catapult was installed which had to be proofed so that its performance could be checked before it was introduced into service. For the first launch with it we used an Avenger as being an old and well-tried faithful. It was a startling maiden effort. The aircraft was shot off so violently that … Continue reading Eric Brown: Wings On My Sleeve

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George J. Marrett: Contrails Over The Mojave

Some pilots, though probably due to the luck of the draw, always seemed to get the plane that comes apart in the air. George J. Marrett was a United States Air Force (USAF) test pilot in the Fighter Test Branch of Flight Test Operations at Edwards Air Force Base during the 1960s, and Contrails Over … Continue reading George J. Marrett: Contrails Over The Mojave

Gene Kranz: Failure Is Not An Option

Gene Kranz is the most famous of NASA’s Flight Controllers, having led Mission Control on both the Apollo 11 first Moon landing, and the Apollo 13 crisis. This, his insider memoir of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo years, was published in 2000. As an Apollo buff, it’s odd that it has taken me fifteen years … Continue reading Gene Kranz: Failure Is Not An Option

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