Flying the Edge: The Making of Navy Test Pilots

George C. Wilson, Author US Naval Institute Press $26.95 (271p) ISBN 978-1-55750-925-3
Washington Post journalist Wilson spent most of 1991 with the 100th test-pilot class at the Naval Air Test Center in Maryland, flying in a variety of high-tech planes with students and instructors, learning how to determine whether an aircraft that accomplished its contract specs and could land safely on a carrier deck was worthy of purchase by the Navy. In a series of exhilarating passages he conveys what it's like to fly these fantastic machines, including the ``sweetly responsive'' F/A-18, the Navy's most technically advanced aircraft. In an interview, former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman discusses the Pentagon's efforts toward keeping the Air Force as the nation's principal striking arm and ``getting the Navy out of the strike business.'' Lehman believes naval aviation in general is undergoing a crisis of confidence because the Bush administration is the most anti-naval administration since Truman's. For his part, Wilson comes out strong in regard to women in combat, recommending that the armed forces welcome them ``all the way aboard'' by assigning them to tactical missions in the next war. Not as focused as his bestselling Supercarrier , Wilson's sprawling discussion of Navy test pilots and the history behind them will be of interest mainly to aviation buffs. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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