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No Parachute: A Fighter Pilot in World War I (Wings of war) Hardcover – June, 1991


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Product Details

  • Series: Wings of war
  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Time Life Education (June 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809496127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809496129
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,882,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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14%
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See all 14 customer reviews
Very well written and thoughtful book.
Christopher Watson
You really got a feel for what it was like to be in an old biplane during the First War.
"rjgrib"
On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book?
h lynn keith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dennis J. Buckley on November 9, 1998
Format: Unknown Binding
This is a work that deserves to be re-printed. It is accessible by the layman, and its aerial combat sequences are clearly written. The author has a pleasing writing style, and he does not fall into the self-worship that sometimes afflicts the writing of combat fliers. Lee effectively communicates the gallantry and the hopelessness of aerial combat without a parchute.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Lee's exploration of the irrational, purely negligent, decision not to equip pilots with parachutes. Parachutes were available prior to the war and were used by balloon-observors throughout the struggle and German aviators in the last year. Due to simple, murderous bureacratic inattention, pilots went to their deaths who could have been saved by a bundle of silk.
Finally, Lee's work is the only one I know of that takes up the ground attack role of aircraft in the First World War. This is often thought to be a development of the Second World War, but Lee provides details of the tactics and missions flown by his unit in this vital role.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a compilation of letters and diary entries. They were made in the heat of the day, and through their immediacy let the reader feel what is was like to be a fighter pilot in 1917.
Lee tells us of how cold it was while on patrol at 20,000 feet and how peaceful the trenches seemed. Later we learn how stressful it was to be tasked with with ground attacks in a Camel. The reader also learns about all the little things in a pilot's life, like shooting frogs in a pond and partying like there was no tomorrow. And burying your squadron mates with frightening regularity.
This book is simply written, and makes no pretext of being a significant historical work. What is does, and does so well, is tell the story of the average joe trying to stay alive in the skies of the Western Front.
It is a story that will stay with you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "rjgrib" on December 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A fine work like this is timeless. You really got a feel for what it was like to be in an old biplane during the First War. This story was totally believable too, with no bragging or exaggerated accounts of heroics or daring-do. An honest diary account of what a typical fighter pilot endured during those hazard filled days. Too often we think of WW I dogfighting as glamorous and exciting with the Red Baron zipping across the skies. This book will make you feel like you've really been there.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on September 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Gould Lee was a young pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in 1917. These letters were written to his wife from his Fighter Squadron in France. The airmen of the First World War were the first to give battle in this new frontier. They engaged in single combat like the knights of medieval times. Airplanes were first used for reconnaissance, like aerial cavalry. Then the enemy began to shoot them down. Next began the individual combat between airplanes in 1916 and 1917. By 1918 large disciplined formations clashed in vast dog-fights. They were regarded as knights, but most came from social levels other than the nobility of Europe. Most were young, and had a high wastage rate (p.xvii). The majority did their job without the glory of becoming an ace. This book contains the modified letters he sent home from the front. They tell of his experiences, but this will not interest the general public.

Appendix A discusses the Failure of the High Command. They designed a standard government aeroplane for aerial reconnaissance which was totally unsuitable for offense or defense (p.213). Britain lacked a flourishing aircraft industry, like in France or Germany. Creating a monopoly leads to a loss in quality (p.214). The Admiralty did not make this mistake, so the Royal Navy supplied their surplus to the Royal Flying Corps. The survivors of this debacle prevented this from re-occurring in WW II.

Appendix B discusses the Strategy of the Offensive and its distant patrols. This caused extra losses and wear and tear on pilots and planes by continuous patrols along the whole British front (p.217). The Germans concentrated superior numbers as it suited them, and caused heavy British air losses (p.218).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. A. Panozzo on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for an excellent book that relates what it was like to be an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps during World War 1, this is it. It is a series of letters and diary entries that tell the story of a "pilot of no fame". The writing style is very reader friendly and compelling. I absolutely treasure this book! I re-read this book! I never tire of it! I own three copies of this book and I recommend it to everyone. It is out of print and sometimes difficult to obtain but it is worth every penny charged. I wish Arthur Gould Lee had written more material. He was a talented writer and (he would modestly disagree with me) a very brave man. I am including links to two other books which may be of interest. Lee flew the Sopwith Pup Sopwith Pup Aces of World War 1 (Aircraft of the Aces) and the Sopwith Camel Sopwith Camel Aces of World War 1 (Aircraft of the Aces) and Sopwith Fighters in action - Aircraft No. 110. The Battle of Cambrai, was arguably, Lee's finest hour. If you wish to learn more about the battle here are two more links to investigate Cambrai 1917: The birth of armoured warfare (Campaign) and Ironclads of Cambrai: The First Great Tank Battle. You may wish to see my other reviews! UPDATE: Lee's second book Open Cockpit is now available! It is just as excellent! OPEN COCKPIT
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