The US Navy's search-and-rescue helicopter pilots at last share the stage with glamorous, better-known jet pilots in a realistic Vietnam War thriller by first-novelist Carroll, a decorated naval aviator who is also a longtime friend of Tom Clancy's. Authentic action and attention to search-and-rescue operations, a neglected detail of the war, are the attractions in this fast-moving, frill-free naval-aviation adventure. Flying- school classmates and best friends Lt. Tim Boyle and Lt. Mike Santy both sail on the American attack carrier USS Concord, but they fly very different machines. Santy, whose late father was an ace in both WW II and Korea, flies attack jets. Helicopter pilot Boyle spends his flying time pulling downed aviators out of the jungle and the ocean. They're both gifted flyers, much admired by their superiors, eager to spend as much time as possible in the air. Such plot as there is has to do with the arrival of a new search-and- rescue boss, an unpleasant, politically wired lieutenant commander who has his eye on Boyle's fianceÇ. When enemy gunfire and inflight engine failure dump Boyle and Santy separately on the beach, the new boss has to scrape up some courage and show his flying skills. Clancy's fingerprints show in the utilitarian prose, manly psychology, and emphasis on action. Women support their men, good officers prevail over careerists, and it all works. The combat and rescue scenes are hair-raising, their authenticity unmistakable.