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From Lightnings to MiGs (Hardback)

A Cold War Pilot's Operations, Test Flying & An Airspeed Record

Aviation > Royal Air Force Military > Memoirs Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Cold War Photographic Books

By Sqn Ldr Russell Peart AFC WKhM
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399007474
Published: 21st September 2021


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'From Lightnings to MiGs features a selection of previously unseen photographs complementing a memoir which throws new light on the operational flying undertaken by some RAF pilots during the Cold War.' - 74 Squadron Association

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It was supposed to be just a training flight. The two Soviet-manufactured MiG 21s, each with two practice bombs and four air-to-ground rockets, were lined up on the runway in Bangladesh at the height of the Cold War, when air traffic control suddenly reported an incursion by Indian Air Force Jaguars. Though ill-equipped for combat, the two MiGs were scrambled.

One of the MiGs’ pilots was an RAF officer – Squadron Leader Russell Peart. On a seven-month loan to the Bangladeshi Air Force, Peart suddenly found himself at the centre of the simmering hostility between two neighbouring nations. By the time they reached the area that had been threatened by the Indian pilots, the Jaguars had gone. Later, when Squadron Leader Russell Peart spoke of the incident to the British High Commissioner, he was told not to shoot down any Jaguars as the Indians had still not paid for them!

Russell Peart flew many other aircraft in his varied career, including the MiG 19, and while a test pilot at Boscombe Down trialled such designs as the Tornado GR1. But it was whilst he was seconded to the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force, particularly during the so-called ‘Secret War’ in Dhofar, that he saw the most action. In that theatre the author flew some 200 operational sorties, 180 of which involved live fire, during which he was hit many times. He was also hit and wounded by a 75mm shell.

Russ Peart has written in detail of his exciting RAF career, from flying Lightnings in the Far East to winning the top prize in the International Tactical Bombing Competition against a handpicked team of United States Air Force fighter pilots and being awarded the Sultan Of Oman’s Distinguished Service Medal. Supplemented by a selection of previously unseen photographs, this uniquely original memoir throws new light on the operational flying undertaken by some RAF pilots during the tense years of the Cold War.

The author's account is at all times readable, well-presented and engaging, with plenty of personal asides and anecdotes along the way.

Aeroplane - March 2022

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The Test Magazine - March 2022

From Lightnings to MiGs is a very readable account of a unique flying career, profusely illustrated with original photographs they serve to illustrate many of the events described in this excellent book.

Russ Peart’s autobiography which is both absorbing and highly entertaining. With comprehensive annexes, it is one of the most informative of several similar autobiographies from Pen and Sword so I have no hesitation in recommending From Lightnings to MiGs as an engrossing and enjoyable read for anyone with an interest in military aviation.

RAF Historical Society

The writing style is easy to read and keeps your attention. With hobbies he had the chance to do, both racing yachts and cars, it might be considered a good example of 'boys toys', but he was clearly a very professional pilot, who loved his job. Any fan of Cold War aircraft will thoroughly enjoy this book I have no doubt, and I am sure it will inspire some youngsters to want to choose flying as a career, whether it is airliners such as Russell's own son chose, or whether it is to fly fast jets for the RAF. Easily recommended for any aviation fan.

Read the full review here

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About Sqn Ldr Russell Peart AFC WKhM

RUSSELL PEART was born and grew up in the small village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire. He joined the local Air Training Corps before applying for entry to the RAF. After pilot training he flew Lightnings in the Far East, Strikemasters with the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force and Jaguars back with the RAF before attending the Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Following a tour as a test pilot, flying mainly the Tornado, and a short period with the Bangladesh Air Force, he returned to Oman for two years flying Jaguars again. He then flew with Royal Brunei Airlines before finally joining Cathay Pacific Airways for the remainder of his flying career.

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