Air Warriors: The Inside Story of the Making of a Navy Pilot

Douglas Waller, Author
Douglas Waller, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-684-81430-8
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4767-5059-0
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After much negotiating with top Navy brass, Waller (The Commandos), the national security correspondent for Time magazine, was granted permission to perform an amazing journalistic feat. In the process of researching his book on the training of Navy pilots, Waller was allowed to take part in the program. He endured disorientation exercises in which he was deprived of oxygen, or spun in circles at nausea-inducing speeds. He was blindfolded and dunked, upside down, into a water tank. As reward for having passed those grueling tests, he was permitted to ride in the cockpit of most of the training flights recounted in this thoroughly documented work. Waller resists the easy temptation of presenting a book centered on ""my adventure with the Navy""; instead, he relies on his eyewitness experience, plus interviews with more than 200 aviators, to craft an in-depth profile of the Navy's aviation training program and its participants. Readers expecting to follow a core of main characters from start to finish may at first find the format disorienting. Waller offers quick takes on individual students, both male and female, going through a particular phase of pressure-cooker training, then moves on. But once readers catch on, they won't want to put down this engrossing saga that will likely become an unofficial recruiting tool for naval aviation. Throughout, the would-be aviators are revealed as supremely talented, courageous and intelligent young people. And by showing how individual aviators have been unfairly tarred by the Tailhook scandal, Waller offers a powerful argument that repercussions from the infamous sex-capade have gone too far. The Navy will love this exemplary book; but so will the vast corps of military supporters and adventure-lovers. Photos. (June)
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