Stormchasers: The Hurricane Hunters and Their Fateful Flight into Hurricane Janetby David M. Toomey, David Toomey
Fifty years after Isaac's Storm, a riveting story of the first Hurricane Hunters, and the one crew who paid the ultimate price. In September 1955, Navy Lieutenant Commander Grover B. Windham and a crew of eight flew out of Guantanamo Bay into the eye of Hurricane Janet swirling in the Caribbean: a routine weather reconnaissance mission from which they never returned. In the wake of World War II, the Air Force and the Navy had discovered a new civilian arena where daring pilots could test their courage and skill. These Hurricane Hunters flew into raging storms to gauge their strength and predict their paths. Without computer, global positioning, or satellite support, they relied on rudimentary radar systems to locate the hurricane's eye and estimated the drift of their aircraft by looking at windblown waves below. Drawing from Navy documents and interviews with members of the squadron and relatives of the crew, Stormchasers reconstructs the ill-fated mission of Windham's crew from preflight checks to the chilling moment of their final transmission. 16 pages of b/w photographs.
Author Biography: David Toomey is a visiting assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, teaching technical writing and creative nonfiction, and co-author of Amelia Earhart's Daughters.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 6.08(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.10(d)
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boring on the way in, and then you have to fight to get through it. The bulk of the book deals with the history of attempts to understand hurricanes; the tale of a doomed flight provides narrative continuity. I know quite a bit about some of the history discussed, and despite (or perhaps because of) the jargon, a lot of it is wrong -- which makes me wonder about the accuracy of the parts about which I know less. It is also full of careless errors (e.g., typos, use of the wrong homonym, obvious mistakes in converting between Celsius and Fahrenheit, casual references to things that don't get described until later in the book). What annoyed me most, though, were some of the creative liberties taken with this "creative nonfiction" (as the jacket bio calls it): pseudoscientific assertions and distortions of fact made to achieve literary ends. It may be that the flight's open-endedness just is not compelling enough, and its historical context just too limited, to make this an engrossing story. Or maybe it needs a different author. As this genre goes, it's a disappointing book: poorly edited and (in my opinion) of questionable accuracy in the historical details. The preface and prologue should satisfy your curiosity, unless you want all the details of the flight in question. Even then, life is too short to read bad books.
I liked this book a whole lot. I read his (Toomey's) other one, too--Amelia Earhart's Daughters and liked it. I hope he keeps writing stuff about aviation history. He really knows how to get your attention and keep it.