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98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The helicopter pilot's bible
Being a helicopter pilot myself for the past 6 years, this book has always moved me deeply, thinking about those men, trying to maintain some sort of sanity in a crazy situation.
I have had the unfortunate luck, of evacuating wounded soldiers, from a war which is still controversial in my country, but I never faced the kind of situations that Mason discribes in the...
Published on November 19, 2001

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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Accurate but extreme personal views in the last half of the
The first half of the book is extremely accurate, however the last half depicts his personal feelings about the situation. As a pilot in the sister Battalion (229th), the attitudes were not as he indicated. I personally resent the fact that he made me feel like maladjusted misfit! But it worked for him, didn't it???? I appreciated his accuracy--just don't think all...
Published on April 23, 1999


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98 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The helicopter pilot's bible, November 19, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
Being a helicopter pilot myself for the past 6 years, this book has always moved me deeply, thinking about those men, trying to maintain some sort of sanity in a crazy situation.
I have had the unfortunate luck, of evacuating wounded soldiers, from a war which is still controversial in my country, but I never faced the kind of situations that Mason discribes in the book, and I have always wandered how they did it, knowing that every morning and evry mission could spell sudden death, from the enemy, or worse, by your commander's stupidity.
I think it's a book about bravery, about how these helicopter pilots in Vietnam were willing to risk their lives every day for their fellow soldiers. I believe that flying into combat, surviving it, seeing what might happen if it wasn't your lucky day, then doing it again and again and again, takes a special kind of character. Character shown by Mason.
I have read many war books, some about Vietnam, some not. My country is (unfortunately) filled with veterans, including my entire family (my father was also a pilot and my brother was in the special forces, we've all been through combat). I think this book is special in the way it touches you intimately, making you feel, just as if you were hearing the story from the author in person.
This is not about victory or defeat, this is about something else, and to know what this thing is you must read the book and look inside to see the impact it has on you.
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of the Helicopter Books, May 23, 2002
By 
Mike "Squirrel Nutkin" (Fairfax, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
Back in the late 80's, Robert Mason's "Chickenhawk" appeared on bookshelves. Mason's personal story of a helicopter pilot in Vietnam was the first of it's kind and has since spawned a number of personal helicopter stories, and they all owe the market being opened by Robert Mason. I was still in high-school when the book out and I wanted very much to fly helicopters for the US Army at the time. After reading this book I was not sure what to do, I was scared at the thought of being shot down in battle, but also saw the pride in what the helicopters pilots had done in Vietnam. This was also the first book I recommended to my father to read, a two tour veteran of Vietnam himself. I have gone back and reread "Chickenhawk" at least 4 times over the years and it still holds up so well, and I still feel like someone hit me in the stomach everytime I get to the end and read those last few lines.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woes of a wobbly-one., August 13, 2006
By 
Ejner Fulsang (www.EjnerFulsang.com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
I recently gave away my copy of this marvelous book to my son. It wasn't too long before I went into withdrawal and bought myself another copy. Bob Mason is a truly honest man, which is not to say that he never lied, cheated, or stole, but that he is one of those rare individuals who can look at himself in the mirror and see himself as he really is, warts and all. That takes an admirable form of courage that most of us don't have. I couldn't do a memoir the way he did. I had to resort to an alter-ego in my own book. I won't claim more warts than Bob, but the ones I have I don't like.

Like Bob, I got into the Army Warrant Officer Helicopter Flight Program after high school in 1967. I was a typical wobbly-one, long on enthusiasm for flying, short on brains, experience, maturity, character, morals, and wisdom. Hey, I was only nineteen! But I sure liked to fly, especially choppers, especially Bell Helicopter's masterpiece, the UH-1 `Huey.' Bob was just coming home from Vietnam the year before I enlisted. He was one of the pioneers of the airmobile concept, assigned to the 1st Cav and traveling to Vietnam by boat with the unit's choppers lashed to the deck. I was appalled at the initial treatment he and the other warrant officers received once they arrived in country. They had to dig their own bunkers. Warrant officers are `supposed' to be officers, rating the respect and privileges of commissioned officers. Actually the commissioned officers used to joke that a warrant officer was just a spec-four with a club card. Still I had to admit that when a unit is freshly arrived in a combat zone, getting shelter up quickly is essential, and I would hate to have been killed in a mortar attack that night because I was too proud to fill sand bags that day.

The real appeal of the book is the white-knuckle flying action scenes. They were often times hair-raising nightmares, and the crews were scared to death, but some how they got the job done anyway--hence, the name of the book, `Chickenhawk.' Warrant officers were funny that way--no mission was impossible. Commissioned pilots tended to fall back on the regulations when things got rough. They had college degrees and were smarter than we were. They tended to live longer too. There were exceptions in both cases, but what I said was generally true in Army aviation.

I was saddened by the fall from grace that Bob experienced when he returned stateside. He had spent a year comporting himself bravely, and now he was haunted by that same bravery. I bought and read his second book, curious I guess, at just how far his downward spiral would take him. And he sank pretty far before he finally autorotated his life to a safe landing. I finally concluded that he was one of those guys who should have stayed in combat, extending his tour 12 months at a time, taking a month off in between to visit his wife in Honolulu. That was where he was at his best--impossible missions, tracers flying everywhere, too dark to see, too dangerous to turn on the lights, breaking every flight safety regulation imaginable, and then getting chewed out by the old man while he was pinning another air medal on his chest. Of course if Bob had done that, we probably wouldn't be reading his fine books today.

--Ejner Fulsang, author of "A Knavish Piece of Work," [...]
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lived the LIfe, April 22, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
I never knew this book existed, but being an ex Army chopper pilot with the 1st Cav in Vietnam, I found this to be the most realistic book ever written on this subject. I identified with every single word. Not like the junk you see in the movies.
Probably in the top 5 books on any subject that I've ever read
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Ironic, August 23, 2005
By 
J. Heivilin (Columbia, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
When this book came out was shortly after I had completed the very first AOBC (Aviation Officers Basic Course) at Fort Rucker. Following that is ORWAC (Officer Rotary Wing Aviator's Course) of course, so I read it while I was trying to learn how to fly helicopters.

His descriptions of learning to hover were dead on (of course they didn't help, not much does) and that lent everything else the "air of authority". His style is very readable and his information is first hand and accurate.

Excellent book and a must-read for anyone interested in helicopters, Vietnam or just a good military book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best read ever, September 29, 2005
By 
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
This is by far the best book about Vietnam ever written. I really enjoy his sense of humor coupled with his cynicism. Being in the military myself, I found this right at home.

The other thing that impressed me, was how he was able to completely change the tone toward the end of the book. You could feel when he had changed and would never be the same. It's almost depressing. However, this is still a great book, one I have read over and over and never grow tired of.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and Real, September 9, 2005
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
Mason's journey of personal experiences as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam war in "Chickenhawk" make excellent and real reading that drops you right in the thick of each situation. You can almost smell the environment he is in.

Mason also writes with an easy and almost relaxed style, which makes for a very smooth read. Combined with some technical information, though not too much, Mason has struck a great balance in his book.

Anyone who is interested in the personal experiences of personnel in Vietnam would enjoy this book immensely and get a lot from it. It is a great book and a great story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best out of the Nam, February 17, 2000
By 
Richard D. Kelley (Lakewood California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
I have read most of the books to spawned from the Vietnam war and all are compelling. However, There are really two major forums of conflict during this war, and they are the "air" and The "ground." Mason has captured in the air what John Ketwig (And a Hard Rain Fell) has captured on the ground. For some reason perople think that its safer in the air. Mason will dispell any notion that you may harbor about that fallacy. I have read the book at least seven times and have found something new in each reading. I'm going to order several copies so that I can put them aside for furture reading since I'v already worn out two copies. If you want to condense the entire war into two books, purchase "Chickenhawk" by Robert Mason along with "and a Hard Rain Fell" By John Ketwig READ THESE BOOKS!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing account of a helicopter pilot's experiences in Vietnam, January 30, 2009
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
Chickenhawk is the author's personal account of his experiences as an army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. The book chronicles his experiences from his entry into flight school until his discharge from the army four years later. Mason gives a detailed accounting of his experiences and his feelings, relating the events and holding nothing back. His storytelling gives an impression of the war as long days of boredom and monotony, punctuated by various brief and extended periods of pure terror and brutal warfare.

Mason presents himself as a thinking, feeling soldier caught in a hellish war. He sees and feels the suffering and inhumanity the war inflicts on his fellow GIs, enemy soldiers, and on the people of Vietnam, and he relates the bravery and cruelty of both combating armies with an even hand. He also pulls back the curtain hiding the bureaucratic underpinings of the army and gives us a glimpse of how some men suffered under the inhumane indifference of army rules but other worked the system to their advantage.

Mason only touches tangentially on the political reasoning behind the war, and focuses mainly on his personal experiences. But he feels the futility of the war, the irrationality of fighting a foe that blended in and out of the jungle shadows seemingly at will, and of defending a people that didn't seem to appreciate US involvement in their affairs and actually may have been the enemy, hiding in plain sight.

All in all, a harrowing, insightful story, and a good read.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn to fly! Learn to live!, August 3, 2000
By 
This review is from: Chickenhawk (Paperback)
Robert Mason just wanted to fly helicopters - and this terrific book puts you so closely into his mind as he learns to fly that you feel as though you could fly one too. Sadly, he paid a high price for his love of flying. This is a great and moving story of how one man was forever altered by Vietnam.
Rather than trying to make a statement about the war, Mason sets out to tell his own story. He does so with such honesty that you end the book feeling as irrevocably changed by events as he was. You share his growing panic and trauma as he comes to the end of his tour in Vietnam, and you share his guilt and bewilderment as he tries to cope with living in a peace-demonstrating, hippie-torn America.
When you re-read the book - as you induitably will - you'll notice Robert Masons' compassion and humour, his sense of camaraderie, the combination of bravery and reluctance that make him and his comrades 'chickenhawks'.
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Chickenhawk
Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (Paperback - March 29, 2005)
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