Winged Victory, Flying and Staying Alive in WWI
Winged Victory will give you an adrenaline rush like no other book.
As I was writing this review it was raining. One of the wettest years on record which makes for less opportunities to fly. The next best thing may be reading something about flying and the book I just finished, "Winged Victory" by W.M. Yeates, is a great place to start. The book is a novel following the flying of a WWI Sopwith Camel pilot. From what I have been told, the novel is based on the author's personal experiences as a Sopwith Camel pilot so it is about as realistic as it gets.
The average life expectancy for a Camel pilot was eight weeks. Over four hundred Camel pilots were killed during the war. Unfortunately, just under four hundred were killed while learning to fly Camels. Today we ride around in nearly robotic Cessna 150s and learn to aim the plane to the ground, make nice turns, take off in great weather and virtually go for a joy ride while learning to fly. Camels, from what I gather, were notorious for spinning when a turn to the left was made, one of the reasons for the high training death rate. The rotary engine had enough torque to rotate the plane it was attached to. You had to learn how to stay alive just to fly. Then, after ten or so hours, you were declared combat ready and you had to add machine gun fire to the picture and still try and survive.
The accounts of flying were very vivid and obviously written by someone who was there. As many of you know, I love the feeling of flying open cockpit biplanes. Reading the details of the flying gave me the same feeling, heart racing, and anticipation that I get when I fly. While the flying is wonderful, the book is not a romantic view of WWI, its a very realistic account with the grim reminders of the losses taken and the futility of war. That said, it is a very entertaining and eye opening view point that gives a realism rarely found associated with the first world war and the less than perfect flying conditions they found.
I highly recommend this book to even those that don't usually read long novels, you won't be disappointed. Its the next best thing to being there. Get a copy of Winged Victory, a great novel.
Winged Victory top of page