Stuck for present ideas for that aviation person in your life? Or have book tokens burning hole in your wallet? TIM ROBINSON presents his personal round-up of 2016 aviation books.


Hello, is this planet Earth? My view from the International Space Station

Tim Peake

A year ago, Britain’s first official ESA astronaut Tim Peake blasted off on a six-month mission to the ISS – sparking off one of the most successful public and STEM spaceflight outreach campaigns ever. Now back on Earth, his first best-selling book is a collection of some of the best of the breathtaking photographs he took while orbiting the Earth 400km up.

2017 – War with Russia

General Sir Richard Sheriff

When a former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO writes a gripping technothriller predicting war in the Baltics in the near future, you take notice. High-level political dithering costs lives on the ground, at sea and in the air as an aggressive Russia makes a play to fracture the Alliance once and for all. Topical, frightening and all too plausible from someone with an inside track on today’s geo-political threats.

British Secret Projects 5: - Britain’s Space Shuttle

Daniel Sharp

In the early 1960s, British engineers at English Electric/BAC were aiming for the stars with a still revolutionary fully reusable space shuttle concept – the multi-Unit Space Transport And Recovery Device' (MUSTARD). Filled with rare archive drawings and blueprints and handsome illustrated by superb renderings of a MUSTARD and other exotic spaceplanes, hypersonic aircraft this is a superb look at an alternative ‘Dan Dare’ British space 'what might have been'.

Apache Over Libya

Will Laidlaw

In 2011, the British Army Air Corps Apache helicopter crews went to war against Gaddafi’s regime in Libya as part of the NATO air campaign. Written by an Apache pilot on 656 Squadron AAC the deployment saw Apaches fly combat missions from HMS Ocean for the first time – as well as duel sophisticated SAMs and deadly air defences to carry out pin-point strikes.

Without Precedent

Owen Zupp

From WW2 commando, to RAAF fighter pilot in Korea to finally flying for the Royal Australian Flying Doctor service, Owen Zupp’s biography of his father Philip pays tribute to that ‘greatest generation’ of quiet, but tough heroes who just got on with the job. From a tough farm upbringing to flying Gloster Meteors in Korea (where he become the only Australian to receive a US Purple Heart medal), and then post-war civil aviation – Philip Zupp’s tenacity and love of flight made for an incredible life.

Into the Black

Rowland White

From Vulcan 607 author Rowland Black, comes Into the Black – the story of the first Space Shuttle flight Columbia. Full of previously untold stories – such as the link between the USAF’s cancelled MOL spy space station and Shuttle astronauts, to the historic first flight and the race to find out, using secret US satellites, the extent of thermal tile damage. A riveting read

Raven One

Kevin Miller

Written by a former US Navy F/A-18 Hornet pilot, Raven One is an up-to-date thriller centred around a US Hornet squadron onboard a carrier as a crisis erupts in the Persian Gulf. Well rounded characters, a highly authentic description of day-to-day squadron life and even a plausible enemy ‘superweapon’. A great read from a first time author.

Speed of Sound, Sound of mind

Roger Cruickshank and Don MacNaughton

Roger Cruickshank was heading for medal glory at the Winter Olympic games and on the fast-track to fighter pilot training with the RAF, when he suffered both physical setbacks in the form of a horrendous skiing accident and personal family tragedy. Now a serving fighter pilot flying Typhoons, this book, written with sports psychologist, intersperses his story of how he fought back to compete in the Olympics and fly fast jets, with practical tips on maintaining a positive mental attitude.

A dictionary of RAF slang

Eric Partridge

First published in 1945, this pocket-sized glossary of WW2 RAF slang contains ‘pukka-gen’ if you ever wondered what a ‘blood chit’ was, whether the ‘Happy Valley’ was really a good place to visit, and what a ‘Tail End Charlie’ was. A ‘Piece of Cake’ if you need an aviation stocking filler

How to make a spaceship

Julian Guthrie

In 2004, Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne became the first private manned spacecraft to break the 100km altitude line – winning the Ansari X-Prize in the process. How to make a Spaceship tells the inside story of X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and the teams that raced to make the first commercial manned spaceflight – an achievement comparable to Lindberghs’s crossing of the Atlantic. A must read for space and technology fans.

Tim Robinson
20 December 2016

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