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A Passion For flying (50 years in the cockpit) – Tom Eeles

50 years in an RAF uniform and 8000 flying hours on 10 plus types of aircraft – Impressive!

Sadly, that’s where it ends for me. I normally enjoy people’s life stories but this was a strange one, it left me cold. In truth, this book could have been written containing just 4 of the 5 annexes.

Annex 1 – Record of service.

Annex 2 – Pilot qualifications military aircraft.

Annex 3 – Flying hours.

Annex 4 – Civilian aircraft flown as first pilot.

The format of the book was, “I arrived…. My next posting came through and I moved on.” It really is extremely boring seeing every chapter start and end like that.

Throughout the whole book I learned virtually nothing about the man himself, even though the book describes it as ‘his story’. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. There were so many opportunities to open up and expand on detail and feelings that were missed. A perfect example is when he released a Bullpup missile whilst landing on HMS Victorious. But it was all OK as FLYCO film proved he hadn’t failed to make his weapons safe. What? This would make a brilliant anecdote and give us an insight to the author if it had been expanded on.

The positive of this book is that if you don’t regard it as a biography it does tell a few basic stories of some of the cold war aircraft, their handling and their quirks. We do get a brief idea of what it’s like to fly these aircraft, even when a Buccaneer HUD drops off in his lap! Which reminds me, the author also liberally spreads acronyms around for various aircraft systems: thankfully there is a section which translates most of these for the reader.

I think another reviewer summed this book up very well, “Not from the top drawer of Air Force memoirs.”

Sorry Tom, only 2 anchors from me; you missed so much out, you missed so many opportunities; but you did at least remind me of the hours I’d spent on aircraft, especially the Buccaneer.