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& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


Helicopter Boys

True tales of operators of military and civilian rotorcraft


Richard Pike              Grub Street,  June 2018

Richard Pike is the author of previous Boys titles covering the Phantom, Hunter  and the Lightning. Readers will not therefore be surprised in the continuity of his style. Unlike other Boys authors he tends to re-write other contributors’ efforts in his own, occasionally verbose and florid, style.  I prefer the originals!


Those familiar with the rotary world will know that there are legions of examples of amazing skill and bravery of helicopter crews (and not just the front seaters), particularly in rescue missions. Pike has collected quite a few, many of which are maritime rescues or connected with North Sea oil work. It is chilling to be reminded of the Piper Alpha disaster, for example.  There is a welcome couple of contributions from a Pakistani pilot.


This volume is notable for what it does not cover, as much as its contents. The helicopter really came of age as a tool of war in Vietnam, yet there is precious little reference to that conflict. Also it became an essential method of surveillance and troop transport in Ulster. Yet, despite the fact that there must be hordes of ex-AAC veterans who could rhapsodise about their time over bandit country (and there are some great stories to be told), that conflict is not mentioned at all. Indeed the contents of this book seem over-weighted to Pike’s post military work in the rotary world.


Overall a bit of a missed opportunity.


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