Fighter Pilot: From Cold War Jets to Spitfires (Hardback)
The Extraordinary Memoirs of a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Pilot
A young boy sits in the back of a Chipmunk aircraft at RAF Woodvale, near Liverpool. He has never flown in anything before. As the power goes on and the little aeroplane soars into a clear blue sky, he decides at once that this is the only thing he wants to do in life: to be an RAF pilot.
Fighter Pilot: From Cold War Jets to Spitfires tells the riveting story of how a boy from Liverpool, at the height of the Cold War, joined an RAF that was largely led by veterans of the Second World War. Christopher Coville arrived at the RAF College at Cranwell to find an environment shaped by English Public School traditions, but he made the grades needed to be streamed onto fighters, and went on to fly the Lightning, Phantom and Tornado F3 in the air defence role.
Christopher eventually became station commander of RAF Coningsby and while in that role flew with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, becoming the only station commander to qualify on the Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster. He also qualified on helicopters and multi-engine aircraft and became responsible for the quality of the displays performed by the Red Arrows, flying with them regularly. Along the way, he steered the RAF’s biggest re-equipment programme since 1945 during a tour at the Ministry of Defence and filling a challenging top NATO post during the wars in the Balkans.
While this is a book about a young man from Liverpool who joined from grammar school and became a three-star Air Marshal, it is also, above all, a story written by a passionate aviator, whose affection for flying leaps out of every line, in a book which is full of excitement, deep knowledge of flying and affection for his fellow servicemen and women. But it is also a wonderful narrative about people, the great characters forged by military life, and honed by fear, exhilaration, and occasional tragedy.
Fighter Pilot: From Cold War Jets to Spitfires is a unique perspective on aviation, written by a talented and dedicated pilot at the very top table of the RAF. This book culminates with his retirement, as the No.3 in the RAF, and being invited to have lunch with The Queen.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Michael Neill
This is a very enjoyable read for anyone interested in the UK military or specifically the Royal Air Force. Christopher Coville is a highly driven individual who achieved great success in his distinguished career despite his humble origins and what seems an insatiable appetite for risk. Of course, being a fighter pilot, risk is a constant companion but Colville’s repeated attempts to scupper his own career through high spirited antics, even despite his growing seniority, beggar belief! The recounting of such adventures make for a highly amusing read and demonstrate that the Authors skill at writing clearly match those he has in the cockpit.
RAF buffs will appreciate the detailed accounts of flying some of the classic fighter aircraft of the past 40 - 50 years as well as the insight into how the organisation does, or sometimes, does not work. The general reader will enjoy a very humorous journey of an individual striving to excel in an exacting and very competitive field. Like me, I hope they will be relived to see this can be achieved with a high degree of humanity and humility.
This is no ordinary memoir. Moving back and forth through time, two stories with fascinating parallels gradually unfold. One is of a Second World War Spitfire ace whose flying career came to a premature end when he was shot down and lost an eye, the other is about his progeny, a second generation fighter pilot who rose to the rank of air marshal. There were times when the lives of both father and son, ‘Robbie’ and ‘Black’ Robertson, hung in the balance – occasions when survival was simply a matter of luck. The narrative is unique in its use of two separate and distinct voices. The author’s…By Air Mshl ‘Black’ Robertson
Click here to buy both titles for £45.00