A riveting account of a modern fighter squadron at war and the exploits, triumphs, and traumas of its pilots.
The Black Aces. Their courage, ferocity, and instincts made them legendary in military aviation. Flying F-14 Tomcats, they played as much a part in recent US operations in Kosovo as did any air squadron in the theater, air force or navy, and probably more. Because of its superior performance, sophisticated equipment and the two-man crews who took it upon themselves to do something extra, the Tomcat and its aviators distinguished themselves over and over.
Forced to locate Serb fighters operating covertly in a mountainous land much like Afghanistan, with almost no help from ground spotters, VF-41 pilots and backseaters spearheaded new methods for the navy to pinpoint, identify, and destroy enemy troops and weapons. These were tasks that fighter crews had seldom had to do before. The Aces had to break rules and frequently go in harms way in order to be successful. And they performed so well that for the first time in aviation history, a fighter squadron - theirs - was awarded The Wade McClusky Trophy, the navy's premier bombing honor. The award, named for a World War II dive bomber pilot and post-WorldWar II admiral, had been won previously only by bombing squadrons.
Robert Wilcox spent two weeks with The Black Aces aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Roosevelt and here provides a long-awaited, never-before-seen glimpse into the world of a modern navy fighter squadron. Wilcox takes readers into the cockpits as the pilots go out and attack targets while avoiding anti-aircraft weaponry. He takes us into the war room as they plan their strikes and into their cabins as they contemplate the danger they are facing. And the reader can't help but worry for these men as they head off into battle, can't help sitting on the edge of the seat as they try to land at night, in a rainstorm, with waves crashing against the ship, and can't help ducking with them as they dodge missile attacks. And in the end, it is impossible not to feel for these aviators as they question their own courage, or to cheer for them when they finally return safely.
Black Aces High is a story of fear and courage, mishap and success, fighting spirit and military innovation. It's a human story that goes behind the smiling, sunglass-wearing facade of aviators flashing a "V", the sterile, slow motion target video that has become a staple of Pentagon briefings, and the rock 'n' roll cowboy image of fighter crews seen in the movies. Instead, it is a story that shows who these aviators really are and what they do beyond what we know, a story which probably will be repeated again and again as our carriers continue to be deployed in the new, 21 century war our nation is fighting.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||501 KB|
About the Author
Robert Wilcox is a former air force information officer and the author of
Wings of Fury, Scream of Eagles, and other books. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife where he also writes television and movie scripts.
Robert K. Wilcox is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter, and novelist living in Los Angeles. He is the author of nonfiction books including Scream of Eagles, Wings of Fury, and Black Aces High.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Most likely a very good story, it just was not told very well in this book.
Black Aces High by Robert Wilcox is an account of a fighter pilot squadron during the Kosovo War. The book follows a squadron called the Black Aces and the missions that they performed. It talks about first hand accounts of bombings on Serbian positions while dodging anti-aircraft fire. It retells the heroic work of the fighter pilots in saving thousands of Albanian lives from being massacred by the Siberian Army. A major message in this book is to never give up. Some of these pilots where working double and triple shifts and were still expected to fly for several more hours before getting any sleep. They were faced with many situations were the outcome wasn't in their favor, but they stayed focused and got the job done. They stuck through to the very end knowing that every minute wasted is another innocent Albanian life lost. What I like about this book is that there is a lot of action and you are kept in suspense on almost every occasion. It makes you fell as if you were actually in the cockpit getting ready to bomb a Siberian stronghold. What I didn't like about this book was that it didn't really tell you why the Aces were going to war; it just threw you right in the mix of things. There were also a lot of pilots names used and it was hard to remember who was who. A lot of aircraft terms were also used and some of them are hard to figure out. Anyone who enjoys books about action and war should read this book. It takes the reader and thrusts them into the cockpit for an unforgettable ride. I would not recommend this to someone who doesn't enjoy war books or that of aviation. Some other books written by this author that are recommended are Scream Of Eagles and Wings Of Fury. Both of these books are similar to Black Aces High except that they are accounts during different time periods and wars. I found that once I got started, it was hard to put this book down. Overall I would give this book a four out of five for its accurate retellings of the war through the eyes of the fighter pilot and its ability to always keep the reader glued to the pages.
I just finished reading Black Aces High and thought it was outstanding. I read the entire book in one sitting and it was fantastic. I was an F-18 pilot on that cruise and while the book concentrated more on the Tomcat than the Hornet, it accuratly portrayed the the missions and development of some fairly advanced tactics in SCAR. The action in Kosovo was much more intese than Iraq. In addition I was pretty close to most of the guys in the book and he really captured their personalities. Sometimes the truth needs some embellishment to make an interesting story. However, this book was right on the mark, had no embellishment and was captivating. Reading about the strikes in which I participated and the antics of squadron life brought back some great memories. Every squadron had a cast of characters that are pretty funny, but the VF-41 had a lot of larger than life personalities. If you want an accurate portrayal of a squadron at war and the thoughts which pass through pilot's heads during combat, this is a great book. Sincerely, Kurt McClung LCDR USN San Diego