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Best Foot Forward (Hardback)

The Autobiography of the RAF's Other Legless Fighter Pilot

Aviation > WWII Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: Aviation WWII

By Colin Hodgkinson
Frontline Books
Pages: 223
ISBN: 9781473897625
Published: 26th April 2017



Book of the Month!

Selected as Forces War Records' Book of the Month for May 2017.

As featured by The Sun, Daily Mirror, Mail Online and the Express. Click the links to read the articles online.

As featured in the International Express (28/6/17)

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In the whole of the Second World War, only two men succeeded as operational fighter pilots in the RAF after losing both legs. Douglas Bader was one, and his story is well-known indeed, he has been described as one of the Royal Air Force's most famous pilots. The other was Colin Hodgkinson.

Colin was injured in a flying accident whilst training with the Fleet Air Arm in 1939. He awoke in hospital to find that his right leg had been amputated at the thigh, whilst his left leg was severely injured. His face was also damaged and he had trouble with the sight in one eye. In the weeks that followed, Colin's remaining leg refused to heal. Coolly, calculatingly, he made his decision: Chop the damned thing off and lets be done with it.

Just nineteen at the time, Colin developed a burning determination to prove himself a normal man by becoming a fighter pilot and flying Spitfires. With Douglas Bader as his example, and brilliant surgeons such as Sir Archibald McIndoe treating him, Colin achieved his aim with a hand-tailored pair of tin legs. He proved himself as a fighter pilot many times over, until the war ended, for him at least, as a German prisoner of war.

Although repatriated in 1944 as unfit for further duty, Colin not only continued to fly with the RAF until he left the service in 1946, but also went on to fly jet fighters with the Auxiliary Air Force from 1947 to 1952. His is undoubtedly a story of courage and determination one in which he had learnt to always stride out into the future, putting his best foot forward.

A true biography of a war hero that fought many battles with the enemy in the air and with himself. The book is a hardcover with 223 pages, a nice cover and 16 pages of original black and white photos. Strongly recommended if you want to learn more about how to become a true hero despite many setbacks and even without your legs.

Read the full review here

Aviation Book Reviews

As featured in

Antiques Diary, September-October 2017

As featured in

Goodwood Aero Club Newsletter - Issue 14

As featured in

International Express 28/6/17

This book is a new edition of the autobiography originally published in 1957. The author was the second legless RAF fighter pilot after Douglas Bader – Strongly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


Bader, who scored 22 aerial victories despite having lost both legs, remains a household name. But Flt Lt Hodgkinson’s exploits have been largely forgotten – until now.

Immediately after the war, he penned an extraordinary autobiography, which has been republished by historian Mark Hillier as new book Best Foot Forward, 60 years after it was first written.

The Mirror 16/5/17

The remarkable story of a pilot who lost his legs in a horrifying crash then went on to become a celebrated World War Two flying ace has finally been revealed, 20 years after his death.

The Mail Online 16/5/17

THE REMARKABLE story of a World War Two pilot who became a Spitfire hero despite having both his legs amputated has come to light.

The Sun 16/5/17

About Colin Hodgkinson

Born in Wells, Somerset, in 1920, Colin Gerald Shaw Hodgkinson was accepted for pilot training in the Fleet Air Arm in 1938. A crash in May 1939 resulted in both of his legs being amputated. Treated by Archibald McIndoe, leading to his membership of the Guinea Pig Club, Colin was determined to fly again. He left the Navy in 1942 and joined the RAF as a Pilot Officer. By March 1943 he was a Flying Officer with 611 Squadron, later joining 501 Squadron as a flight commander. Following a remarkable wartime career as a fighter pilot, Colin achieved post-war success in the competitive world of advertising and public relations, even being the star of an episode of the BBCs This is Your Life which was broadcast live on 7 October 1957. He passed away on 13 September 1996.

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