Bogeys and Bandits: The Making of a Fighter Pilotby Robert Gandt, Robert Gandt
Americans are fascinated by the undeniable mystique of the elite world of Navy fighter pilots. In Bogeys and Bandits, Robert Gandt takes readers on a thrilling ride in the FA-18 Hornet, one of the fastest, sleekest, and deadliest aircraft in the world. Gandt lived and worked with several pilots learning to fly the Hornet: the identical twins from Middle America; the computer nerd with a penchant for speed; the grandson of a Tuskegee Airman, trying to live up to a proud legacy; and two women dealing with the post-Tailhook world of the Navy. Gandt weaves superb technological details of the Hornet and an insider's look at the highly demanding training program with portraits of the day-to-day lives of these very real people aspiring to fulfill a dream. Bogeys and Bandits will hold readers breathless as they soar through the skies in the cockpit of the fastest and deadliest fighter plane in the world.
Gandt, a veteran navy fighter pilot (Sky Gods: The Fall of Pan Am, 1995), follows eight trainees from their introductory briefing to the difficult final exam and on to their service with the fleet, where they become accustomed to taking off and landing on a carrier pitching and tossing on the open sea. They must master a push- button, computer-controlled, $30 million marvel that routinely exceeds the sound barrier. Gandt notes that the "Incredible Shrinking Navy" has, since the end of the Cold War, far fewer openings for pilot trainees. Today's pilots are chosen with a heavy stress on college ranking, in contrast with wartime standards that welcomed any eager volunteers. Some high-ranking veteran fliers tell Gandt that they would not qualify under present standards and that they are amazed to hear today's sophisticated trainees discussing stocks and corporate jobs. Gandt also touches on more controversial matters: He calls the Tailhook incident a political witch hunt and suggests that, combined with the Clinton administration's decision to allow women to apply for combat duty, it has created serious new problems for the navy including a dangerous double standard. He claims that an unqualified female flier allowed to carry out a particularly difficult assignment was killed in a flawed carrier landing. The navy, he asserts, covered up the incident by attributing it to engine failure. While Gandt discusses these matters frankly, much of the book is taken up with the day-to-day reality of flying an extraordinary machine and the exhilaration that comes with it. His descriptions of flight sweep are vivid enough to transport the reader to the Hornet's cockpit.
A fascinating look into an arcane, risky, high-tech world inhabited by bright, brave youngsters.
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.69(d)
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