The Boy Airman (Hardback)
An Absolute Stranger to Fear
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The life of many combatants in The Great War was often short and brutish. But there were choices for some. Taking to the air was an attractive alternative to the slime, stench and gore of the trenches. The prospect of flying in the Royal Navy, the Senior Service, Nelson's Navy, must have been irresistible to any adventurous teenager – the best aeroplanes on the best ships with the best sailors that ever existed – or so he might have been led to believe.
The Royal Naval Air Service was sorely tested, and not necessarily by the enemy. The casualties of the sea and its perils, and of accident and mechanical failure, were catastrophic. But this critical battle between young pilots in their infant flying machines and unpredictable events forged the pathway for our modern conceits of war – missiles, drones, giant aircraft carriers, weapons of space.
A hundred years ago a young pilot took illicit photographs with his pocket camera and left a personal account of his life at sea with his 'kite'. This book tells his story illustrated by his long-lost 'snaps'.
"Richard has produced a colourful memoir of his father’s brief service, supported by a nostalgic glimpse into the great conflict of century ago."Society of Friends of the Fleet Air Arm magazine "Jabberwock"
This book is full of historical events and many wonderful photos, taken through the lens of one man’s pocket camera, Hugh Petty. Richard Petty has captured the thrills, tribulations, and courage that his father went through as a young Royal Naval Air Service pilot in the early days of aviation and warfare in WW1.Vintage Airfix
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Featured inOver the Front - Spring 2021 issue
As featured byCross and Cockade
As featured byThe de Havilland Moth Club Ltd
The book, published by Pen & Sword and released in 2014 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War, is a nice tribute from dr. Petty to his father, an aviator boy and a man of value in his hospital service. An unusual book but which is very pleasant and constitutes a unique testimony of a different war experience.On The Old Barbed Wire
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Biographies of common individuals in uncommon circumstances often provide the necessary micro-prospective needed to understand times of conflict. The Boy Airman is partly that.Over the Front, Autumn 2016 – The Boy Airman – reviewed by David Layton
It is the second section that contains the real value since Hugh Petty had a small camera and, against contemporary regulations, took a number of photographs of his aircraft and the ships from which they flew. Many of those reproduced in this section are rare. I certainly have not seen them before. There is also a facsimile reproduction of the cover and two pages from his pilot’s log book. The words of his 1927 speech give a tantalisingly brief but interesting description of his wartime career as a pilot including basic training at Crystal Palace, flying training and culminating with operations flying Sopwith one-and-a-half-strutters from Chatham, Inflexible and Marlborough. The descriptions of how sorties were flown spotting for the battleships’ big guns and the surrender of the German High Sea Fleet leave one wanting to find out more.Australian Naval Institute - David Hobbs
As featured inYorkshire Gazette and Herald
'… this book, and the extraordinary photographs it contains, stands as a unique record of the early days of naval flying, and the terrible risks the young men of the Royal Naval Air Service took.'The York Press
It is an extremely engaging retelling of a part of aviation history that is often overlooked.FlyPast - March 2016
As featured inTelegraph & Argus