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Naval Aviator (Hardback)

The Memoir of a Royal Navy Officer and Operational Westland Wasp and Lynx Pilot

Aviation > Aviation Biography & Memoirs Aviation > Pilots Aviation > Post-WWII Aviation Colour Books Maritime > Naval > Naval Aviation Military > Biographies > Military Biographies Military > By Century > 20th Century Military > Memoirs Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Biography & Memoirs Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Falklands P&S History > British History Photographic Books World History > Europe World History > UK & Ireland

By Chris Taylor
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 32 colour illustrations, 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399059763
Published: 22nd September 2023


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Chris Taylor has had a very successful career as a Royal Navy officer, helicopter pilot, test pilot and instructor. His first book, Test Pilot, concentrates on anecdotes and incidents from the most recent phase of his career. His second book, Experimental Test Pilot, is an account of his ten years’ service as an experimental test pilot, from 1994 until 2004, at MoD Boscombe Down, the UK’s tri-Service home of military aircraft testing and evaluation.

Written in the same humorous manner as his previous books, Naval Aviator explains why Chris wanted to become a pilot and how he achieved that through the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm. Following the, perhaps misleading, advice of his local careers office, Chris joined the Royal Navy on a University Cadetship which required him to serve initially as a watchkeeping and navigation officer before he could sub-specialise as a Westland Wasp and subsequently a Westland Lynx pilot. This book covers each appointment or ship that Chris served in, and provides a ‘no holds barred’ account of the many life-threatening and stressful situations he faced, not least working with, and for, some unhelpful if not outright unreasonable colleagues.

The operating environment of a small ship’s flight is graphically described, including flying in extremely poor weather conditions and high sea states in order to ‘get the job done’. His ditching of a Wasp during training and then damaging his helicopter at sea is fully documented. In addition to numerous close calls as an aviator, Chris is unusual in being involved in four major collisions at sea. For one of these collisions he was the officer responsible for conning or ‘driving’ the ship and, despite his best efforts, his ship rammed a German Frigate in thick fog in the Baltic. Serving on a Hong Kong Patrol boat he had numerous encounters with armed Chinese patrol boats and soldiers; as a Fishery Protection Officer he was attacked with an acetylene blow torch and kidnapped by a French trawler; as a Wasp pilot he almost singlehandedly had to protect the Royal Yacht from the threat of Libyan gunboats; as a Lynx pilot he won the day in numerous major international exercises around the world and served for a month on detachment to a Dutch frigate.

All of these accidents, incidents and adventures are fully described set alongside the challenges of trying to maintain a normal domestic life. Naval Aviator accurately captures the ups and downs of life as a Royal Navy Officer and Fleet Air Arm pilot of the Cold War and will be a good read for anyone interested in naval or aviation history. It is also an ideal book for aviators, aspiring aviators, service veterans and anyone who is considering such a career.

"...just like the previous two titles this is an entertaining and informative book...an excellent read. Highly recommended."

Pilot Magazine - February 2024


"...a good record of a Fleet Air Arm helicopter pilot's job, and details a way of life that would seem to be at odds with all the requirements of family living. As such, it is both readable and reliably entertaining, as well as being well-illustrated."

4 Stars

Aeroplane - January 2024

"A good book, a really interesting read..."

Watch here at 01:55:00


"I recommend it and will be pleased to add it to my library of Fleet Air Arm biographical books."

Read the full review here

Australian Naval Institute

The author packed a lot of experiences in to his Naval career, both good and bad, but TAYLOR narrates in an easy-going, colloquial and fun style, punctuated by frequent verbal exclamations about how lucky for the external (non-RN) reader, it describes a fascinating dynamic between professionals of the same service with very different views from one another on how things should be done. For those who know the situation, and particularly the individuals involved, it will sound all-too familiar, with some 'uncomfortable' incidents and differences of opinion being described. No punches are pulled, but it is all recounted in good humour.

By the end of the book, there is no doubt that he has achieved full 'Naval Aviator' status in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal navy.

Fleet Air Arm Officers’ Association Newsletter

As featured in

Navy Wings Newsletter

‘If ever you wanted to know what makes a naval aviator, look past the movie versions, look past the breathtaking accounts of jet pilots, and look to the humble sea-going helicopter pilot. Chris’ book does that and is the most honest version of that journey. It was a special time, and he’s captured it perfectly, warts and all.’

Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas, GCB, DSC, ADC, DL, FRAeS Wasp/Lynx Pilot. First Sea Lord

‘I thoroughly enjoyed reading these tales of true life adventure from a fellow pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as an amusing and scintillating reflection of the uniqueness of Naval Aviation.’

Rear Admiral S.B. Charlier CBE FRAeS Wasp/Lynx pilot. Chief of Staff Naval Aviation

‘Naval Aviator is a thoroughly entertaining, informative and often very humorous memoir that I highly recommend.’

Flt Lt Mandy Hickson RAF (Retd) Tornado Pilot. Author An Officer Not a Gentleman

‘Chris has a lovely relaxed and humorous style of writing. His descriptive storytelling puts you right in each moment as if you are there with him.’

Liz McConaghy, Chinook Aircrew. Author Chinook Crew Chick

‘I have immensely enjoyed reading this high octane account of life as an operational Royal Navy Wasp and Lynx Pilot.’

Cdr Paul Tremelling RN(Retd) Sea Harrier Pilot. Author Harrier: How to be a Fighter Pilot

This is an immensely absorbing, honest and entertaining book. It cover’s Chris Taylor’s Royal Naval career from the beginning to the end of his front-line service with honest accounts of the highs and the lows. As the ex-First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said, “If you want to know what makes a naval aviator …. look to the humble sea-going helicopter pilot.” I’ve flown with both Chris Taylor and Admiral ‘Z’ and love this account of, among other exploits, what flying is like from the back end of a frigate or destroyer in Wasp and Lynx helicopters.

Jeremy Greenop

About Chris Taylor

Having wanted to be a pilot for as long as he can remember, CHRIS TAYLOR gained his private pilot’s licence at the age of seventeen. He joined the Royal Navy whilst studying for a degree in Electrical Engineering and, after serving as a Navigation Officer on numerous ships, went on to operate Wasp and Lynx helicopters, flying in all weathers from frigates deployed worldwide. Despite domestic challenges he became a highly respected and experienced ‘Exceptional Qualified Helicopter Instructor’ and spent over two years as the Commanding Officer for the Lynx Simulator training facility at RNAS Portland before being accepted for training to become an Experimental Test Pilot. He flew all manner of experimental aircraft for research and development purposes before returning to the Empire Test Pilots’ School as a Flight Test Instructor. Having served at Boscombe Down for ten years he joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority as an aeroplane and rotorcraft test pilot. With the closure of the CAA’s Flight Test Department he formed Dovetail Aviation Ltd and has continued to test fly a wide variety of aircraft ever since. Chris has flown over 400 different kinds of aircraft, is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and is a licensed Category 1 Test Pilot and Flight Test Instructor for both aeroplanes and helicopters, which arguably makes him one of the best qualified and most widely experienced test pilots working today. Additionally, he finds time to be a Helicopter Examiner and Flying Instructor for helicopters, aeroplanes and autogyros when he is not to be found playing with his grandchildren. Following the success of his previous books, Test Pilot and Experimental Test Pilot, Chris felt inspired to write this ‘prequel’ about service in the Royal Navy as an operational Wasp and Lynx pilot.

Perfect Partner

Experimental Test Pilot Military Aircraft Research Flying (Hardback)

Chris Taylor has had a very successful career as a Royal Navy officer, helicopter pilot, test pilot, instructor and as an internationally acclaimed civil certification test pilot. His first book, Test Pilot, concentrates on anecdotes and incidents from the most recent phase of his career. This book is the prequel and is his account of his ten years’ service as an experimental test pilot, from 1994 until 2004, at MoD Boscombe Down, the UK’s tri-Service home of military aircraft testing and evaluation. In this book, Chris explains what led to his passion to be a test pilot and how, with tenacity,…

By Chris Taylor, Cdre David Best OBE BSc MA CEng ALCM FRAeS

Click here to buy both titles for £48.00
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