KHAKI WINGS by Milton Dank


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Some dandy WW I flying, a poor show of a story. Half-American English schoolboy Edward Burton, five months short of 17 but ""a born leader,"" enlists in the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic-to await his birthday, when he can take pilot training. Already all-knowing about planes (thanks to a pilot-mentor); Edward is soon in France with Squadron Four--flying the first aerial reconnaissance of German troop movements, enduring the first aerial attack from a German plane, firing the first machine-gun installed in a British plane, seeing his first parachutist, shooting down his first Jerry (no glee). . . all before his 17th birthday. Then, at his distant mother's intervention (he hadn't gotten her permission to enlist), he's sacked--but instead of heading home, he joins the Canadian Flying Corps, is reassigned to a sadly reduced Squadron Four, saves the life of his former superior/new best friend, finds a soulmate in the latter's sister (as he had suspected he would, a few pages before), tells off a carping ""fat bureaucrat,"" sees more of his mates die (including that best friend), and finally pulls out, unashamed: ""every man has just so much to give."" For all his supposed recklessness and defiance, Edward is a complete void as a character-denied so much as a single convincing utterance. And the same is true of the other purported individuals who appear. With a ridiculous plot too, the book has going for it only what actually, factually happened--which is, however, of intrinsic interest and effectively described.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte