Feet Wet: Reflections of a Carrier Pilotby Paul T. Gillcrist
Paul Gillcrist was a navy carrier pilot for almost thirty years, from the early days, of flying propeller planes from straight deck carriers, to the days of high-tech, lethal "teen" jets and supercarriers. In his remarkable career - from "nugget", to competent jet aviator, to test pilot, to Vietnam fighter pilot, to air wing commander, to head of "Fightertown, USA," Gillcrist flew the F-8 Crusader, F-4 Phantom, F-14 Tomcat, and a myriad of other tactical aircraft. He took part in the Navy's transition to jet aircraft, when accident rates were high and many feared that jets would not be able to operate in the harsh, demanding environment of "blue water ops." Gillcrist saw the introduction of critical innovations - the angled deck, steam catapult, optical landing system - that saved carrier jet aviation from extinction. Few aviators have had such varied and fascinating experiences, and few could write about them with such eloquence. Available now in a new hard cover reprint edition, Feet Wet (aviator talk for reaching the safety of water) is a chronicle of adventure, heroism, courage, and humor, with some of the most exciting passages ever written on flying. From his magical first flight - the sheer exstasy of being airborne, to the heart-pounding excitement of his first night "trap," the terror of ejecting from a test plane spinning out of control, to dodging SAMs and jousting with MiGs over Hanoi - Gillcrist takes the reader into his world and vividly conveys what all pilots live for - the tremendous "high" of all-out flying. As part of his absorbing stories. Gillcrist shares technical information on carrier aviation; the reader sees, step-by-step, how an airplane is launched, and thentrapped again on a small deck aboard a moving ship - this, the most dificult feat in aviation. Paul gillcrist retired in 1985 after a 33-year career as a naval aviator. He commanded a fighter squadron, a carrier air wing, a major jet base, and as a flag officer, the Pacific Fleet fighter wing. He flew 167 combat missions in three Vietnam combat deployments, for which he was awarded seventeen combat decorations. Paul Gillcrist is also the author of Tomcat! The Grumman F-14 Story, Crusader! Last of the Gunfighters, and Vulture's Row: Thirty Years in Naval Aviation (all three titles are available from Schiffer Publishing Ltd.).
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Although I read this book a year or so ago, it has surprised me since that time by how often it has come back to my mind. I didn't realize how thoroughly I was learning aspects of flying and the mind set of flyers. Topics: the nature of flight training. The operations of carriers and their takeoffs and landings (techniques invented by the British). The mentality of flying missions, such as in Vietnam seemingly: ignore thinking about consequences below). What's odd is that as a personality, the author seems barely present in his own book; it's about flying, not a flyer. All the fascinating things he shared -- he tosses them off, understates each one; it is for the reader to realize (months later!) the import of this and that aspect of flying. Dramatic things happen but drama is not in the presentation. Quite an achievement. I hope Mr. Gillchrist sees this review.
For those with an intrest or background in aviation this is an excellent book. Explains the evolution of carrier operations and lets you feel the stress in the cockpit when things are right and wrong. Thank God for men and women of Admiral Gillcrist's mettle.
This book has no action and no story line! To understand this book you need your PHD. And where was the editor when this book was being made there are typos all over the place in this book!!!!!