Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
This is the memoir of an aeronautical engineer. Such memoirs can be along the lines of “and I spent the following month doing a stress analysis of wing rib 40a, and we found that…”. With my lack of scientific education, these tend to lose me somewhere around the second paragraph. Roy Boot’s “From Spitfire to Eurofighter” falls firmly into this camp. Were it not for the fact that my copy is signed by the author, to whom I have personal connections, (and also that he was a very important designer) I think I would have ditched it a while back.
Cruddas’ book is the complete opposite. Extremely readable, it centres as much on the travails of bringing up his family during his peripatetic wanderings around the globe in trying to advance his career. For his chosen profession, Cruddas has had an unusual number of employers. It is always a delight to follow the dry wit of a fellow Yorkshireman, and Cruddas does not fail to notice and report the oddities on his travels. Further, the nonsensical structure of Britain’s post-war aircraft industry, with its attendant failures (think Princess & Brabazon) does not escape his pen.
After a wartime childhood in Brid (lington), he escaped to an apprenticeship in the lofting department of Fairey Aviation at Hayes – the sort of highly structured autocratic environment that one hopes has now disappeared from Britain’s industrial scene.
The normal (for that era) interlude of National Service followed. He ended up at the School of Land Air Warfare at Old Sarum in Wiltshire. That, and the accompanying illustration of a grim barrack block, resonated with me, as I spent several weekends there – perhaps in the same barrack block – waiting for the weather to improve sufficiently to achieve my first solo glider flight as an air cadet. A beautiful, and very historic, aerodrome.
A View from the Wings
60 years in Aviation
Colin Cruddas – The History Press, 2012
ISBN 978 0752 477480