BOGEYS AND BANDITS by Robert Gandt

BOGEYS AND BANDITS

The Making of a Fighter Pilot
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Tales from the cockpits and ground-training classes of those learning to fly the navy's most advanced fleet fighter/bomber jet- -the FA-18 Hornet. Gandt, a veteran navy fighter pilot (Sky Gods: The Fall of Pan Am, 1995), follows eight trainees from their introductory briefing to the difficult final exam and on to their service with the fleet, where they become accustomed to taking off and landing on a carrier pitching and tossing on the open sea. They must master a push- button, computer-controlled, $30 million marvel that routinely exceeds the sound barrier. Gandt notes that the ``Incredible Shrinking Navy'' has, since the end of the Cold War, far fewer openings for pilot trainees. Today's pilots are chosen with a heavy stress on college ranking, in contrast with wartime standards that welcomed any eager volunteers. Some high-ranking veteran fliers tell Gandt that they would not qualify under present standards and that they are amazed to hear today's sophisticated trainees discussing stocks and corporate jobs. Gandt also touches on more controversial matters: He calls the Tailhook incident a political witch hunt and suggests that, combined with the Clinton administration's decision to allow women to apply for combat duty, it has created serious new problems for the navy including a dangerous double standard. He claims that an unqualified female flier allowed to carry out a particularly difficult assignment was killed in a flawed carrier landing. The navy, he asserts, covered up the incident by attributing it to engine failure. While Gandt discusses these matters frankly, much of the book is taken up with the day-to-day reality of flying an extraordinary machine and the exhilaration that comes with it. His descriptions of flight sweep are vivid enough to transport the reader to the Hornet's cockpit. A fascinating look into an arcane, risky, high-tech world inhabited by bright, brave youngsters. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-670-86721-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997




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