Aviation Books Reviewed

On Home-made Wings

Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume, GMS Enterprises, £17.95

The author was one of the early post-WWII home-builders in Britain, and this first part of his autobiography take his story up to 1954. It includes digressions onto the general and aviation news of the time, and tends to ramble off the subject on occasions, but provides a detailed account of his various projects, including "rebuilding" the Luton Minor G-AFIR from the ground up after an accident, and his involvement with various Aeronca C-3s. The rather poor quality reproduction of some of the many photographs is disappointing, but the large format 200 page book is good value.

Flight on Frail Wings

Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume, GMS Enterprises, £17.95

The second part of the author's story, starting with a brief look at the pre-war aviation scene and his childhood during WWII. The main part then continues from 1954, including his time working at Handley Page, Britten- Norman and Agricultural Aviation Company, always with a light-hearted approach. The general quality of the photographs is better than in his previous book (see above) and this is again good value.

Can Anybody See Bermuda, Memories of an Airline Pilot (1941-1976)
Archie Jackson, Cirrus Associates, £7.95

Despite the jokey title, this is a straightforward account of the author's flying career, starting with his RAF training in England and Canada, then being loaned to BOAC as a flying boat co-pilot. After serving in India, flying Dakotas, he went on to fly with LAN Chile, BSAAC and BOAC, ending as a VC-10 Captain. A selection of well printed photographs rounds out a very interesting book.

From Flying Boats to Flying Jets, Flying in the Formative years of BOAC 1946-1973
Eric "Timber" Woods, Airlife, £19.95

A slightly misleading title, since the author was a BOAC navigator rather than a pilot. He joined BOAC in 1947 after wartime RAF service, and flew in all BOAC types from the Sunderland conversions to the Boeing 707, ending his career as Chief Examiner at the Ministry of Aviation. A little like a travalogue at times, but there are interesting accounts of the various routes flown and incidents along the way, together with a small selection of very good photographs.

Wings Over Spain, History and Images of the Civil War 1936-39
Angelo Emiliani and Giuseppe F. Ghergo, Georgio Apostolo Editore, £31.00

A brief history of the Spanish Civil War, followed by a superb collection of photographs with extended captions. There are also several pages of colour scheme drawings. Although the book has a slight Italian bias, including lists of Italian aces, casualties and awards, the overall coverage is well balanced. However the civil enthusiast may be disappointed by the small number of pictures dealing with the civil types used in the early days of the War. The occasionally fractured English in the translated captions does not detract from a very worthwhile production.

More Tails of the Fifties, Another anthology of Aviation Memories
Compiled and edited by Peter G. Campbell, Cirrus Associates £12.95

A further collection of 28 personal accounts from civil and service pilots, as well as ground-based aviation enthusiasts. The time scale is flexible, with some stories starting in pre-war days, others continuing into the 1960s, but all are interesting. There is a good selection of well presented photographs from the contributors own collections.

Tail Ends of the Fifties, A third anthology of Aviation Memories
Compiled and edited by Peter G. Campbell, Cirrus Associates £12.95

The mixture as before, 32 more accounts for people in all areas of aviation, with another good selection of photographs. Arthur Ord-Hume's account of his balloon flights is almost worth the price on its own !

Blossom, A Biography of Mrs F.G. Miles
Jean M. Fostekew, Cirrus Associates £9.95

Maxine "Blossom" Miles worked with her husband during the entire existance of Miles Aircraft, but this book falls between two stools, probably due to the lack of personal papers available to the author. When dealing with Blossom's early life it concentrates on her family background, particularly her American aunt, the actress Maxine Elliot, reputedly the mistress of Winston Churchill, and also discusses the career of Blossom's father, the actor Johnston Forbes-Robertson. The book adds little to what has already been published about the Miles company, apart from the Miles Aeronautical Technical School which she ran during WWII. There is a small section of photographs, but overall this is a disappointing book.

Wings of Yesteryear, The Golden Age of Private Aircraft
Geza Szuravy, MBI Publishing Co., USA, (UK distribution by Haynes Publishing) £17.95

A large format, very well illustrated, history of American private owner aircraft between the two World Wars. It provides a very useful insight into the movement of designers between various companies and the development, success or failure of many types. At the price, it is a real bargain.

From Take-off to Touchdown, My Fifty Years of Flying
Tony Farrell, Cirrus Associates, £8.95

A slim volume of autobiography, starting with the author's pre-war flying at Ramsgate, then his WWII RAF service, mainly as an instructor, with a final spell flying Pathfinder Mosquitoes in 1944-45. Post-war he returned to instructing, mainly at Cambridge and Hamble. No dramatic incidents, just a well told story of a long flying career. There is an interesting selection of photographs, mainly from the author's own collection.

Spithead Express, The Pre-War Island Air Ferry and Post-War Plans
Christopher Balfour, Magna Press, £16.95

A large format, expensively produced slim hard-back, dealing with the author's father's involvement with flying on the Isle of Wight, with Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation Ltd. services pre-war and with Portsmouth Aviation's war-time activities and their attempts to produce the Portsmouth Aerocar immediately after WWII. Well illustrated with previously unpublished photographs, it is a mixture of biography and aviation history which covers a little known area of British flying.

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