Category Archives: Aviation History

RESCUE BELOW ZERO – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleRescue Below Zero (Kindle Unlimited)
AuthorIan Mackersey 
PublisherSapere Books (October 23, 2022)
FormatKindle, Hardcover, Paperback
Pages175 pages
GenreDisaster Relief / Aviation History / Arctic & Antarctica
History
LanguageEnglish
ASIN#B0B7JCDXC1

AUTHOR

Ian Mackersey was a New Zealand writer and documentary film producer acclaimed for his deeply researched and revelational biographies.

A former head of film and television production at British Airways in London, where his documentaries took 24 international awards, Ian Mackersey is an ex-pilot, journalist, magazine editor, TV documentary producer and the author of ten books, including two novels. He began his writing career as a reporter on daily newspapers in New Zealand before going to London to work in Fleet Street and later as a feature writer for Royal Air Force Review, travelling the world reporting on the RAF’s global operations. There followed a year in Hong Kong as night news editor of the South China Morning Post, the editorship, back at the Air Ministry in London, of the RAF’s flying training magazine, Air Clues, and, later, a move to Central Africa.

In April 2015, after a short illness, Ian Mackersey passed away in Auckland. He is survived by three children; David, Paula and Kiri. Should you wish to make contact regarding their father’s work, please email Paula Mackersey here.

Excerpt taken in parts from https://www.ianmackersey.com

SYNOPSIS

Rescue Below Zero is the true story of survival in the middle of the Greenland ice-cap. 700 miles from the North Pole, seven crewmembers and five passengers fight for theirs lives after their aircraft crashes on a resupply mission. Ill-equipped for the harsh environment, the twelve castaways must try to stay alive until help can arrive.

On September 16th, 1952, Hastings 492 with 12 people on board plunged into the deep snow atop the Greenland ice Cap at over 8,000 feet. After a brief plow through the snow, the aircraft came to a silent stop. Luckily they were within sight of the British North Greenland Expedition that was there for scientific research. Although they crashed near the expedition, it still took hours of dogging thru the snow to reach the survivors. What followed was an excruciating wait for a rescue. Stuck in the broken plane for days on end, the survivors fight the elements, boredom, and injuries to stay alive.

While rescuers try to come up with a plan, the weather is quickly turning to winter. Soon it will be impossible to send in a rescue team to pick up the survivors. Planning and preparation must account for trying to land on the snow covered ice cap and takeoff again. An ingenious plan is developed to utilize smaller planes with skis and jet assisted packs for takeoff. Will this never-before type of rescue work? Will the planes be able to make the journey to the crash site and back on the limited fuel capacity? Will the rocket packs, that have to be installed after landing, even work? Will the planes get stuck in the ever deepening snow? Can the survivors and the injured live long enough for help to arrive? How much longer can they fight the cold, the frostbite, and the never ending wind?

CONCLUSION

Ian Mackersey has delivered an exceptional masterpiece with Rescue Below Zero. It is meticulously researched and written. It is obvious Ian loves his subject material. He keeps the reader riveted to the story and the “what happens next.”

Rescue Below Zero is an intriguing tale about extreme survival. The true-life story brings to light the fight between harshest environments and the human spirit in the struggle for life.

I truly enjoyed this book and the detailed account presented by Ian Mackersey. I have been associated with aviation my entire life and love to read any books on the subject. Ian really did a superb job with this one. He keeps the reader riveted and entertained. He captures the spirit of exploration and the humanity in desperate conditions. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Now, I am reading Smithy: The Life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, also by Ian Mackeresy. A review will follow shortly, but I must say this is another exceptional book by a gifted author.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Ian Mackersey , Sapere Books, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Rescue Below Zero.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

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THE HUNT FOR MH370 – REVIEW

Litercurious.com

Audio & Book Reviews Site. Why watch when you can read?

The Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth, Ean Higgins
The Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth
TitleThe Hunt For MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up.
The Truth
AuthorEan Higgins
PublisherMacmillan Australia (February 26, 2019)
FormatKindle, Audiobook, Paperback
Pages334
GenreAviation History, Commercial Aviation
LanguageEnglish
ASIN #B07K9HPR71

“Good night. Malaysian Three Seven Zero.

The last recorded radio transmission from MH370’s, Flight’s Captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah spoken to Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) at 01:19. There was no further communication from the aircraft.

AUTHOR

Ean Higgins grew up in Texas and Quebec, before moving to Australia with his Canadian father and Australian mother. He has worked as a reporter, section editor, chief-of-staff and foreign correspondent for Australia’s three national newspapers over nearly four decades. He served his cadetship on the Australian

Financial Review where he was appointed the newspaper’s first New Zealand correspondent, then moved to the Fairfax group’s investigative title Times on Sunday, before joining The Australian in 1988 where among other roles he served as foreign news editor, Inquirer editor, Europe correspondent and Sydney bureau chief. In recent years he has returned to reporting on The Australianfocusing on crime, corruption, politics, aviation and the interplay among them. Higgins holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Sussex, and a master’s from the Australian National University. He learned to fly as a young man in Quebec, as a student piloting Cessna 150s on skis in winter. He won a Kennedy Award for Best Online Reporting for his coverage of a bush fire, and a Quebec Grand Prize for Independent Journalism for an opinion piece on language politics published in the French-language national daily Le Devoir.

Excerpt from Macmillan, Pan Macmillan Australia website

SYNOPSIS

In the early morning of 8 March, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At the flight controls was 53 years old pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his First Officer, 27 years old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Shah was an experienced pilot with and excellent reputation and extensive experience with 18,423 hours flight time; 8,659 in the Boeing 777-200. He was a Type Rating Instructor in the 777-200 airframe and was a Type Rating Examiner for Malaysia Airlines.

The weather that night was good, but for reason known only to Shah additional fuel was added; more fuel than necessary to cover the normal hours fuel contingency. The excess fuel gave the aircraft the ability to fly for almost two hours longer than the required flight time to the destination.

Around midnight the pilots began their normal run-up procedures beginning with the ‘walk around.’ Once complete, the pilots would gather in the cockpit to go through the Preflight Procedures whilst the Cabin Crew began boarding the 227 passengers that were heading for Beijing. The majority of the passengers were of Chinese nationality with an eclectic and diverse mix of other nationalities.

With the Preflight Checklist now complete and the Oxygen Check finished Shah and Hamid performed the ‘Before Start’ Checklist. Hamid requested pushback and engine start clearance from Kuala Lumpur Area Control Center. The time is now 0040 and Malaysia Flight MH370 taxis to runway 32 Right.

The last item on the ‘Before Take-off’ Checklist is ‘Flaps,’ with the response “Set,” Flight MH370 announced to the tower ‘370, 32 Right for Take-Off.’ The pilots pushed the throttles forward. The engines thrust increased, as did the vibration and speed. At V1 they rotated; and at 0042 local time on 8 March, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 carrying 239 souls lifted off on a flight into oblivion. 

The Hunt for MH370 is a detailed analysis posited by author Ean Higgins on the various scenarios that may have led to the disappearance of flight MH370. His opines are aided by expert assessments based on the available data of the likely events that lead up to the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. The author digs deep and reveals facts that were concealed; facts that could have helped locate the missing plane. Higgins seeks to clarify the events that may have transpired during the last flight of MH370. He avoids wild speculation in favor of expert opinions, hard facts and available data. The investigative body that oversaw the search are held to account. A rational well conceived, yet speculative, analysis is given of the events that tragic evening.

CONCLUSION

The Hunt for MH370 is a mystery encompassed by an enigma. Higgins carefully explored the many possibilities that may have lead to the loss of MH370. He collected and collated data and accounts from a diverse range of involved persons. He creates a plausible assessment of the likely causes of flight MH370’s disappearance using first person accounts, original documents, and international experts that included those from the fields of: aviation crash investigation, professional pilots with decades of experience, engineers (both aviation and oceanographic), as well as satellite data .

What happened to the passengers and crew of Malaysia Flight MH370?Did Shah highjack his own aircraft, kill the crew and passengers, then fly out into the middle of nowhere and ditch the aircraft into the Indian Ocean killing himself in the process? If he did, why did he do it? What was the evidence and why were essential clues to the disappearance hidden even from those conducting the search? Ean Higgins lifts the lid on the mystery and perhaps one day, if-and-when MH370 is found, his analysis might be proven accurate.

The Hunt for MH370 is a compelling read and is never dry or overly technical. It is captivating from the outset and once your attention is secured you will be in for the flight. The narrative is gripping and Higgins writing style ensures that that grip is vise-like. If you enjoy reading real-life mysteries that have yet to be solved and you gain solace from using your own acumen to forge your own opinion; then reading The Hunt for MH370 is a no brainer.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Ean Higgins, Macmillan Australia, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review The Hunt for MH370: The Mystery. The Cover-up. The Truth.

Soaring in Style – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Soaring In Style: How Amelia Earhart Became
a Fashion Icon
by Jennifer Lane Wilson
TitleSoaring In Style: How Amelia Earhart Became
a Fashion Icon
AuthorJennifer Lane Wilson
IllustratorLissy Marlin
PublisherCapstone Editions (February 1, 2022)
FormatHardcover
Pages32
GenreChildren’s Literature, Historical Non-Fiction
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131684464285 / 978-1684464289

AUTHOR

Author Jennifer Wilson Image and bio.

If you would like to learn more about Jennifer Wilson, check out her website here.

ILLUSTRATOR

Illustrator Image and bio.

Lissy Marlin is an award winning illustrator and character designe from the Dominican Republic. She has worked on many projects and has illustrated on a plethora of titles. Learn more about this fantastic artist here.

SYNOPSIS

Soaring in Style is the little known side story of Amelia Earhart. This story not only tells the tale of her becoming a woman pioneer of aviation, but also a pioneer of women’s fashion. It details the motivation behind the aviation icon and what drove her into fashion design.

CONCLUSION

Soaring in Style is a simple story for young girls 8-10 years old. It describes the hardships that women endured in the early 1900’s in a man’s world. Although the story is uncomplicated, it is inspiring for young girls who want to chase their dreams. Amelia Earhart not only breaks down barriers in the aviation industry, but she bucks the system in women’s clothing design as well.

Although I knew quit-a-bit about Amelia the aviator, I had no knowledge of Amelia, the designer. This book introduces a whole new dimension to the aviation icon.

Soaring in Style is brilliantly illustrated. Lissy Marlin’s use of color and design is breathtaking. The images may be simplistic in nature, but they are provocative, they describe the story well and they are just the right type for young audiences.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Jennifer Lane Wilson, Capstone Editions, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Soaring In Style: How Amelia Earhart Became a Fashion Icon.

FREE TO READ NOW ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

Let’s Go On A Hike, by Katrina Liu is currently free-to-read on KindleUnlimited. Discover all the wonders of nature with this beautifully illustrated book all about a little boy on a hike with his dad, mom, and Archie, the corgi. Great for children ages 2 to 8.

Aircraft of World War II – Review

Litercurious Book Review

Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World's Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 by Chris Chant
Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 by Chris Chant
TitleAircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s
Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945
AuthorChris Chant
PublisherAmber Books (February 1, 2022)
FormatFlexibound
Pages320
GenreAviation History, Aircraft of WWII, Warplanes
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131838861904 / 978-1838861902

AUTHOR

Chris Chant is a successful writer on aviation and modern military matters. He has more than 90 titles to his credit and more than 15 co-authored titles. You can learn more about Chris on his blog.

SYNOPSIS

Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945 comprises a brief detail and the specifications of wartime aircraft during WWII. The introduction describes the aviation role in war and the evolution of the fighter plane. After the introduction each page has an airplane listed in alphabetical order, with a very brief description of the plane, its use and its specifications.

CONCLUSION

Aircraft of World War II is a very basic book. There are only three real pictures of aircraft in the entire book. Each aircraft described has only a profile depiction available to the reader. The information provided is short and concise.

As a military pilot I love books about airplanes, pilots, and especially fighter pilots. I have been fascinated with aviation since I was a child and love to read about pilots and aircraft. However, this book leaves a lot to be desired. The information is very basic, there are drawings instead of pictures and there is no scale in the depictions.

The author did a pretty good job trying to cover 300 airplanes in such a short book, but I would rather have 150 airplanes with more information and pictures. This book would have been better served if it were cut into factions and the airplanes given much more attention.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Chris Chant, Amber Books, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to review Aircraft of World War II: 300 of the World’s Greatest Aircraft 1939-1945.

SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its pages is in-depth and vast. From the different types of airplanes the RAF used from WWI through the beginnings of WWII, to the political infrastructure and bickering that took place.

WOLVES AT THE DOOR – REVIEW

Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy is a very good book. It details the life of Virginia Hall and her contributions to the war effort. Virginia is a remarkable woman with a dedication and drives that far exceeds the average man.

The Moth and the Mountain – Review

The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest is the story of a troubled WWI veteran and his trek to find solace and meaning in his life.

SPITFIRE!-REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
Spitfire by Dilip Sarkar
TitleSPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron
AuthorDilip Sarkar
PublisherPen & Sword Air World (August 29, 2019)
Pages296
GenreAviation History, Military Aviation History
LanguageEnglish
ISBN 10/131526732815 / ‎978-1526732811

AUTHOR

Learn more about Dilip Sarkar.

SYNOPSIS

Spitfire is a new version of the original book with the same title. The author has updated it with a ‘wider context including social, political, aviation and military history.’ It tells the tale of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) from its inception through the Battle of Britain and a little beyond. Its primary subject is Squadron Leader Brian John Edward “Sandy” Lane DFC; fighter pilot and flying ace of the RAF.

Mr Sarkar has written this book as a tribute to Squadron Leader (SL) Lane DFC; and all of the men and women, on both sides, that took part in the Battle of Britain. The book covers the RAF from WWI through the many changes into WWII. He explains the politics and tactics of the time used in defending England in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He further discusses the men and women who made up the RAF, their jobs, and family lives. He tells the harrowing tales of the real life live-or-die dogfights that took place over England and the Channel. Mr Sarkar includes personal recollections, pictures, and stories from the real people that took part in this time of historic conflict.

The book is filled with the actual logbook entries of the pilots. Sarkar also includes the letters and diary entries of the actual people who participated in the action. Sarkar discusses the individual players, their lives, their careers, and for the survivors their post-war lives.

Although the book is focused on SL Brian Lane DFC, Sarkar incorporates 19 Squadron and all the key personal: the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s), the ground crews, the pilots, the decision making leadership, and of course the politicians. He further discusses the technology of the time and how it was used in the defense strategy.

The author thoroughly covers the Spitfire; from its inception through the many models and modifications. We discover the shortcomings of some models that have catastrophic consequences for the pilots that flew them. We learn just how the Spitfire stacked up to the Messerschmitt ME 109 and its different variants. Finally, Sarkar discusses the Spitfire against the Focke-Wulf  FW 190.

CONCLUSION

Spitfire is an exceptionally researched historical account of 19 Squadron and the Battle of Britain. The information contained within its pages is in-depth and vast. From the different types of airplanes the RAF used from WWI through the beginnings of WWII, to the political infrastructure and bickering that took place.

I found the book to be a bit confusing at times. My epub copy didn’t differentiate from the story to the photo captions causing confusion when the story just changed mid-sentence to photo caption. This issue occurred throughout the entire book. However, if you can get past that little inconvenience, the information contained within its pages is priceless.

Overall, I found this book a little difficult to read at times due to the jumping around from person to person and the photo captioning intermixed with the main text. However, I immensely enjoyed learning the history of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, and all of the men and women who took part in the book. I definitely enjoyed reading all about the Spitfire and the dogfights that the pilots flew.

I do recommend this book to anyone interested in Aviation History, the Battle of Britain, or the historic account of the Royal Air Force.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to thank Dilip Sarkar, NetGalley, and Pen & Sword Air World for affording me the opportunity to review SPITFIRE! The Full Story of a Unique Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron.