THE BIG X by Hank Searls


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A high powered, hard-hitting first (a Harper ""Find"") novel of a ""seat of the pants"" pilot, Mitch Westerly, and the Bix X he is testing- the next thing to a space ship. With one more run to make, Mitch, who flies by his instincts rather than instruments, is aware that there is still a bug in the plane being pressured through for an Air Force contract; is susceptible to the ""loneliness of the pilot surrounded by theorists"" who can only get some of the answers on paper; and only too well knows that he is a pretty low actuarial statistic and that he can't offer much to Sue, who lost a first husband in Korea. Fighting the ""egghead engineers"", breaking with Sue- who tries to make him give up this last hop, attending the crack-up of his best friend, Mitch is finally given the choice of flying without the telemetering gear (the added weight will induce an uncontrollable yaw- but the equipment will provide the very necessary answers) and he takes off- finally at peace with the decision he has reached. .....Not the glossy handling of the David Beaty books, but some tense navigational sequences of the men who explore new areas of speed and altitude, of the panic they live with and the dream they die for, this has its solid stress. Men certainly should respond to the excitement offered.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1959
Publisher: Harper