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Test Pilot (Kindle)

An Extraordinary Career Testing Civil Aircraft

Aviation Aviation Memoirs Civil Aviation Biographies

By Chris Taylor
Imprint: Air World
File Size: 64.3 MB (.mobi)
This file exceeds the Kindle Cloud 50 MB size limit
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 100 mono integrated and 32 colour
ISBN: 9781399085366
eBook Released: 30th March 2022

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Having flown an astonishing 400 different aircraft, as a licensed Category 1 test pilot and flight test instructor for both aeroplanes and helicopters, Chris Taylor is arguably one of the best qualified and widely experienced test pilots working today anywhere in the world.

After obtaining his private pilot’s licence at the age of just 17, Chris began his service flying career with the Royal Navy. He duly flew Wasp and Lynx helicopters from warships around the world under all kinds of circumstances.

After five years instructing, the author then became a test pilot flying numerous types of experimental aircraft for research and development purposes, before returning to the Empire Test Pilots' School as a tutor. Having served at Boscombe Down for 10 years he joined the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority as an aeroplane and rotorcraft test pilot. With the closure of the CAA’s Flight Test Department, he went on to form his own company and has continued to test fly a wide variety of aircraft ever since.

Rather than just the usual cutting-edge fast jets one associates with test pilots, Chris Taylor’s book covers general aviation aircraft, including testing homebuilt aeroplanes, helicopters and autogyros. It also features the testing of ex-military jets and warbirds such as the Fieseler Storch, Sea Fury, Spitfire and the Mustang.

As the author is someone who teaches test pilots how to become flight test instructors, the reader is privileged to be able to share in, quite literally, the ups and downs of aviation testing with one of the foremost test pilots of his era. Somehow, he still manages to find time to be a helicopter examiner and instructor for helicopters, aeroplanes and autogyros.

While Test Pilot will appeal to pilots of every era, it is particularly aimed at the general reader, who will be taken on a journey across the skies in almost every conceivable type of civil aircraft involving almost every imaginable flying incident.

Featured by

The Society of Experimental Test Pilots

"Chris's book entertains and informs from start to finish."

Light Aviation, May 2022

An Excellent Book by an Excellent Pilot, for everyone.

What makes a test pilot? Apart from the obvious ability to fly well (and a lot of hard work) it's his experiences in various aircraft. Some good, some not so good, and some very downright dangerous.

In this book Test Pilot Chris Taylor recalls some of his many flights in everything from vintage Tiger Moth Bi-planes, to modern hi-tech Helicopters, all in pursuit of safer flying.

There is enough technical detail to keep those so inclined happy, but Chris's easy writing style means that this is an enjoyable book for everyone, aviation minded or not.

This is an excellent book written by an ex-Royal Navy (above average) pilot who went on to to be a very much well above average Test Pilot.

Very much worth a read.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

"This is a highly recommended read."

Helicopter International

An excellent read - highly recommended.

I loved this book! It is easy to read, yet introduces the art and skills of being a test pilot in a very helpful, humorous and informative way. It had me hooked from the start. I'm not an expert in aviation, but feel I've grasped some of the different talents needed for flying an extraordinary range of aircraft. The glossary of acronyms and tech jargon was useful without interrupting the flow of the accounts. I laughed out loud at times. The author has a lovely, self-deprecating warmth and humanity which kept me engaged throughout. His literary technique works well - each chapter is a stand-alone short read, yet as I read through, I felt I was incrementally growing in my appreciation of what pilots get up to. Pushing the boundaries of the airworthiness of some great and terrible machines was both fascinating and terrifying. The little catchphrase "Phew! ... Survived another" comes with genuine relief after many episodes. Perhaps more than anything, the author's love of flying and simple gratitude for the gift of such an extraordinary "job" with some amazing colleagues made this a delight to read. Would make a great present!

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

Fantastic, interesting and witty insight to the world of test flying.

I found the book extremely interesting, well written, humorous and does a great job of placing you in the cockpit of a huge number of aircraft that Chris has flown. This book is perfect for aviation enthusiasts, pilots and engineers ! I look forward to reading the follow up story when it is published.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

"Brilliant, simply brilliant!"

A great read for anyone; pilot, wannabe or simply just interested in aviation.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

A book written about test flying by a test pilot? Surely only a pilot would understand? I’m not a pilot and that was my (soon to be confounded) expectation. This is an excellent book and it takes the reader through a career that has more variety than Heinz and which required more lives than a lucky cat.
Even the hairiest of experiences is described in a reassuringly down to earth manner that brings the reader fully into the experience. There are technical details that will fascinate the flying community and yet not baffle or bore those whose only flying experience is sitting in a commercial airliner. By the end of the book it wouldn’t be hard to convince yourself that you could fly any of a number of aircraft.
Whether you are a pilot or not, this is a terrific read. Leave yourself some time when you open it. You probably won’t put it down until the final page.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

Fantastically fun and brilliantly interesting- Test Pilot describes just a few of the nerve wracking stories of testing aircraft. Loved every minute of the book. Chris Taylor somehow manages to persuade the reader that’s he’s cool- magnificent.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

"A fascinating gripping read that will keep you enthralled throughout."

This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. Chris has a great sense of humour throughout and you can’t help but marvel at some of the highly risky moments he has seen behind the controls of many different aircraft. I found myself laughing many times but also thinking ‘wow that was a close call.’ Highly recommended!

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

From the first 5 minutes of reading this book I was hooked and wanted to know what came next. I was particularly interested in the chapter about Gyrocopters it was not only funny but scary as well. Very pleased that Chris Taylor has survived and look forward to his next book.

5 Stars

Amazon UK Review

So you fancy being a test pilot, Chris Taylor has managed to make a career out of doing just that and has managed to fly over 400 different types in the process. This book gives an insight into his world of test flying with some of his more unusual and challenging flights with each chapter devoted to different types or themes and written such that you can either just dip into each chapter or go for it from start to finish.

Of particular interest for microlight enthusiasts are the chapters on spinning, involving the C42 and Savannah. A chapter on the Escapade and single seater Cub, and also a trip to Northern Ireland to fly the Aerochute amongst other types.

The range of aircraft described is very broad and you are sure to find something of interest from ultralight helicopters, to large search and rescue helicopters, autogyros, vintage aircraft including Tiger Moths and the Spitfire, and then vintage jets such as the Gnat and Hunter, and onto modern singles and twins. Each is covered in an entertaining and educating style, describing both the journey and the experiences found, giving a very clear and easy to understand description of some of the problems and how they were solved.

So if reading about flying interests you then definitely add this book to your collection.

Chris is also one of the BMAA test pilots and our goto pilot for the more interesting test flying requirements, which also means that he has probably had the most spins in a microlight aircraft in the UK, so a pilot of great skill and daring.

Microlight Flying - May 2022

As featured in

Pilot

There can be no question that Chris has had an extraordinary career, test-flying a vast range of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft of all vintages, with extraordinary stories to match his voluminous logbook. For an aviation nut, this is a thoroughly convincing read.

NetGalley, Jenny Avery

'This is a very enjoyable book'.

Pilot Magazine - Spring 2022

Chris Taylor, who is a British SETP Fellow, is an extraordinary man who has had an amazingly varied and extensive career in flight testing. Like many outstanding test pilots across the world he has had a lifelong interest in all things aviation. Initially inspired by his father, who saw wartime service on two RAF fighter squadrons, Chris took up aeromodelling, and then, through his school’s Combined Cadet Force, won a Royal Navy flying scholarship and was able to gain his Private Pilot’s Licence at the tender age of 17. So it was perhaps inevitable that Chris should enter the military flying world, which he did by joining the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.

However, this well-illustrated book doesn’t focus on his military service, during which he became an operational helicopter pilot, top-rated instructor, experimental test pilot and flight test tutor with the world famous Empire Test Pilots’ School. Instead the story really starts when he joined the UK Civil Aviation Authority and leads on to the creation of his own flight test business, known as Dovetail Aviation, which has the mission statement/tag line of “Making Flying Safer”.

Chris has flown over 400 types of aircraft from warbirds, through classic light aircraft to home-builts and microlights; from heavy to light helicopters and even autogyros. He has travelled worldwide to fly some of these and sometimes came across over-ambitious projects that often did their best to end his career, if not, on occasions, his life.

Chris tells his tales like he talks; modestly but amusingly, describing in detail what he sees and experiences. It’s as if the reader is sitting on a bar stool, drink close by, while being regaled with amusingly gripping stories of flight test derring-do. You’ll have to provide your own hand movements to keep up!

I know it’s a cliché, but this book is, especially for anyone at any level of aviation, a real page turner. For those with inside knowledge of flight testing there’s much to be learnt, as well as many laughs. For those who didn’t have a Fleet Air Arm background, or are not British, the wonderful Glossary includes much to help; such as definitions for “grobble”, “fishhead” and “slop chit”, as well as definitions for the multitude of acronyms that litter the flying world.

Overall, I highly recommend “Test Pilot; an Extraordinary Career Testing Civil Aircraft”; you will be all the richer for reading it.

Mike Brooke

Well, what an excellent read!

Chris Taylor has that rare gift – the ability to write engagingly and in detail about a subject that is alien to most people and yet he invites them warmly onto a comfortable sofa within this unfamiliar world.

A book written about test flying by a test pilot? Surely only a pilot would understand? I’m not a pilot and that was my (soon to be confounded) expectation. This is an excellent book and it takes the reader through a career that has more variety than Heinz and which required more lives than a lucky cat.

Even the hairiest of experiences is described in a reassuringly down to earth manner that brings the reader fully into the experience. There are technical details that will fascinate the flying community and yet not baffle or bore those whose only flying experience is sitting in a commercial airliner. By the end of the book it wouldn’t be hard to convince yourself that you could fly any of a number of aircraft.

This book isn’t just a series of tales about flying and close escapes. It’s also about a man who clearly has an instinctive grasp of how the physics of flying works that is beyond mere training. It’s about that tight community of airmen, test pilots or not, who quietly share a mutual understanding of the risks and pleasures of aviation. It’s about the relationship between those who fly and those who make things fly – that intimate interplay between aircrew and engineers. Above all it’s about the pioneering spirit that must reside in every test pilot who pushes the envelope whenever they get into an untried aircraft.

Inevitably in a world where gravity leads to the final frontier, there are emotional highs and lows, but they only add to the richness of this book.

Whether you are a pilot or not, this is a terrific read. Leave yourself some time when you open it. You probably won’t put it down until the final page.

Jon Parkinson - Navy Wings

I’d thought the days when a test pilot could rack up 400 plus types in his logbook were well and truly behind us, but Chris Taylor’s remarkable career gives lie to that. From helicopters to fast jets, and warbirds to microlights (and even flying cars!) ‘Test Pilot’ tells an eye-opening flying story full of variety, incident, and surprise with good humour to the fore and potential danger lurking in the shadows.

Rowland White. Author of Vulcan 607, Harrier 809

From dummies strapped to biplanes to dodgy ASI readings in Spitfires, ‘Test Pilot’ brings together a great array of fun flight test tales from Chris Taylor's varied career, all delivered with humour and humility that anyone lucky enough to have met him will instantly recognise.

Ed Hicks, Editor Flyer Magazine

Such a great read… funny, relaxed and fascinating. A must read for any aviation enthusiast!

Flight Lieutenant Mandy Hickson RAF (Retd). Tornado Pilot. Author of “An Officer Not a Gentleman”

Chris has been a good friend to the LAA over the years, providing his knowledge and expertise to fine-tune a wide variety of aircraft, but they are just a fraction of those described in this book. It’s funny, scary, informative and entertaining. A must-read!

Steve Slater, CEO Light Aircraft Association

A very entertaining and informative page-turner giving a good insight into the trials and tribulations of a test pilot. Essential reading for all aviation nuts.”

Roger Pattrick BEng Chief Technical Officer, British Microlight Aircraft Association

A fascinating and deeply personal insight into the daily highs and lows, hopes and fears of a test pilot at the top of his profession. Packed with fast-paced drama both inside and outside of the cockpit, some of which had me laughing out loud. Once started I couldn’t put the book down.’

Francis Donaldson BTech, CEng, FRAeS, Chief Engineer Light Aircraft Association

Chris writes like he’s telling you a tale after a couple of beers. His stories are hilarious and scary in equal measure!

Wing Commander Mike Brooke AFC RAF (Retd). Fellow of SETP. Author of “Trials and Errors”

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 17. He joined the Royal Navy whilst studying for a degree in Electrical Engineering and, after serving as a Navigation Officer on numerous ships, went onto to operate Wasp and Lynx helicopters. After five years instructing, he became a Test Pilot and flew all manner of experimental aircraft for research and development purposes before returning to the Empire Test Pilot’s School as a Tutor. 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 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.

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