From Publishers Weekly
Opening with a graphic account of a mid-air collision, this bio of Voris, who founded the Navys famed aerial acrobatic team, gets the job done, but without the groups pluck and aplomb. Before the founding, Voris flew two combat tours as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific, from 1942 to 1944. Among the numerous descriptions of his wartime experiences, the book includes accounts of his first landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, his first aerial combat and his participation in the aerial melee known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot"in which 300 hundred Japanese planes were shot down. Wilcox (Black Aces High) presents vivid interviews with Voris himself about this period ("This voice... came on the radio and said Shut up and die like a man. ...Thats the kind of attitude people had... Shut up. We got our own fight to deal with..."). In April 1946, Voris was tapped, as part of a Navy postwar public relations campaign, to form the Navys flight exhibition teamThe Blue Angels. A landing gear collapse upon landing, the use of a captured Japanese Zero fighter for simulated aerial dogfights, and the death of one of his wartime comrades who crashed into the ground during air show acrobatics are all covered, along with the recruitment and the development of acrobatic maneuvers. Relinquishing command of the Blue Angels in 1947, Voris did stints in Korea, with the re-formed Angels, and later worked for Grumman and NASA. His mid-century pilots life comes through loud and clear here, as does the Navys internal workingsand those marvelous planes.
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Ray Marlin "Butch" Voris joined the U. S. Navy during preparations for World War II. He became a fighter pilot who fought in three campaigns and ended as an ace with eight kills. After the war, when Admiral Nimitz proposed the precision flying team that became the Blue Angels, Voris served twice as its leader. During the second stint, which followed a tour of duty in Korea, he survived a disastrous midair collision to retire as a captain. His service to his country wasn't over, however, for he went to work for Grumman aircraft on the development of the F-14 Tomcat and the lunar lander, and his career ended at NASA. Wilcox is a master of aviation history, research, and the declarative sentence. Employing those attainments, he has produced a solid, readable biography of an outstanding member of the group of junior officers who were on WWII's front lines and gave further service after the war without receiving the honors they deserved. In the case of Butch Voris, consider that lack remedied. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved