War in the Air

Climb into the cockpit, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready to fly with the world’s greatest fighter pilots. Stephen Coonts, himself a decorated Navy flier, has selected twenty-six essays from among the best in aviation literature, as told by the pilots themselves, in WAR IN THE AIR: TRUE ACCOUNTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY’S MOST DRAMATIC AIR BATTLES—BY THE MEN WHO FOUGHT THEM.

From World War I, where aviators flew fragile machines of canvas and wire, to Vietnam and the age of supersonic aircraft, these gladiators of the air recount their tales of courage, skill, and at times sheer terror. Readers fly with Eddie Rickenbacker, the “Ace of Aces” as he tells of his shooting down of twenty-six enemy planes in World War I. British Spitfire pilots display their incredible heroism in the Battle of Britain, as they defend their homeland against overwhelming German air power. A selection from the famous book THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1953) takes the reader over Japan in the daring “Doolittle Raid” which helped to restore American morale after Pearl Harbor. Essays are also included from the diaries of German and Japanese fighter pilots, as well as bomber pilots, including the crew of the ENOLA GAY, which dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. There are stories harrowing bailouts over enemy territory and narrow escapes, including recollections of those brave pilots who never returned to base.

This is more than just a book about aviation history—these are first-person accounts of courage and incredible skill and luck, by a group of men trained to fly and fight almost at the very edge of human ability and endurance. Coonts’ excellent selection of essays will most certainly keep the reader at the edge of their seats.