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Viper Pilot: A Memoir of Air Combat Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This autobiography of a retired USAF F-16 pilot will remind seasoned readers of Jack Broughton’s classic Thud Ridge (1969). It certainly offers the same gripping cockpit view of modern air combat, in this case over Iraq in two wars and patrolling U.S. skies after 9/11. Hampton recounts his training as a pilot, then his selection for F-16s—officially the Fighting Falcon but known in the USAF as the Viper—and finally his training for the most demanding flying done in the F-16, the Wild Weasel missions. These missions are dedicated to the neutralization or, preferably, destruction of enemy air defenses and date back to the first encounters with SAMs, in the Vietnam War. As the radars and missiles on the ground have improved, so have the technology and skills of the Wild Weasel pilots, who must keep themselves and their comrades alive in an air full of high-tech hostility. Hampton is a vivid writer and an unabashed warrior, and, like most such, he has doubts about the future of American armed forces if they are to be commanded by men who are neither warriors themselves nor particularly empathetic toward those who are. An outstanding work. --Roland Green


“A rare riveting memoir of a highly decorated fighter pilot that’s packed with grit, swagger, and great humor. Do not miss this one!” (W.E.B. GRIFFIN & WILLIAM E. BUTTERWORTH IV)

“Hampton’s one of the most decorated pilots in Air Force history. ... We may never see his like again.” (New York Post)

“Offers a gripping cockpit view of modern air combat ... Hampton is a vivid writer and an unabashed warrior. ... An outstanding work.” (Booklist (starred review))

Viper Pilot is an awesome adrenaline rush. If you love action packed modern day war stories then strap yourself in and get ready for a gut-wrenching, g-force defying thrill ride!” (ALEX KERSHAW, bestselling author of The Liberator and The Few)

Viper Pilot is fantastic. Lt. Col. Dan Hampton offers a personal, irreverent, no-holds-barred look into the life of an Air Force fighter pilot. A great read!” (DALE BROWN, former USAF Captain and New York Times bestselling author of A Time for Patriots)

Viper Pilot is an instant aviation classic. Dan Hampton’s thrilling portrayals of combat missions kept me glued to the story, and he has captured the essence of Wild Weasel fighter operations as no one has before.” (BRIGADIER GENERAL DAVID L. MOODY (Retired USAF))

“Dan Hampton’s Viper Pilot truly impressed me--if you’re a combat vet, it’s sweaty palms again; if not, strap in and get ready. Filled with lots of action, here’s a real and up-close look at modern fighter combat, told straight from the cockpit.” (COLONEL JACKSEL BROUGHTON (USAF, Ret.), recipient of the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism and author of Rupert Red Two: A Fighter Pilot's Life)

“Dramatic. ... Viper Pilot delivers 300 pages of aviation fireworks.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“The best air combat memoir I have ever read... An incredible look into the unique culture of Wild Weasels.” (Tyler Rogoway, Foxtrot Alpha, a Gawker Media site)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062130358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062130358
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (565 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton flew 151 combat missions during his twenty years (1986-2006) in the United States Air Force. For his service in the Iraq War, Kosovo conflict, and first Gulf War, Col. Hampton received four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, a Purple Heart, eight Air Medals with Valor, five Meritorious Service medals, and numerous other citations. He is a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School, USN Top Gun School (TOGS), and USAF Special Operations School. A frequent guest analyst on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC discussing foreign affairs, military, aviation, and intelligence issues, he has published in Aviation History, the Journal of Electronic Defense, Air Force Magazine, Vietnam magazine, and Airpower magazine, and written several classified tactical works for the USAF Weapons Review. He is the author of the national bestsellers Viper Pilot and Lords of the Sky, as well as a novel, The Mercenary.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By USMC7579 on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my lifetime I have read just every fighter pilot memoir that I could get my hands on; probably hundreds of them. I absolutely love this subject. This is the most interesting, most informative, best written, most hilarious memoir of them a long shot. I found myself laughing out loud at his outlook on things and his way of describing them. It's my new standard for how good a book in this genre can be. It's so good, I felt compelled to write this short review before I completely finished the book.

Thank you Mr. Hampton. I thank you for your service, I thank you for writing such a truly enjoyable read and I thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us.

Books like this are why I love to read.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Semper Fi
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78 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Daddy Rabbit on October 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a young Air Force lieutenant, I read Jack Broughton's "Thud Ridge." After my career was over, I read "Bury Us Upside Down: The Misty Pilots and the Secret Battle for the Ho Chi Minh Trail" by Rick Newman and Don Shepperd. After completing the latter, I asked, "What could be better?" On October 4, 2012, I found my answer. These two classic works of non-fiction about aerial combat have been nicely complemented and, dare I say, surpassed, by Dan Hampton's "Viper Pilot: Memoir of Air Combat." In every respect, Lt. Col. Hampton captures the bullet-sweating fear and exhilaration of air combat in the modern age against enemies conventional and uncoventional. Simply put, I ordered my two hardback copies as soon as I found out I could.

Dan Hampton is the "real deal." He's irreverent. He's cocky (and I personally never had any use for a USAF pilot who didn't think he was the best thing to ever come down road). He's hilarious. Most of all, he is possessed of a deadpan, gunslinger mentality and a sense of purpose focused on doing the things he promised his country he would do in its defense...without hesitation and with lethal determination. I have known "2Dogs" for well over two decades. He is everything I trained him to be as a USAF student pilot and he became everything I knew he could be as a fighter pilot.

For those who have worn the wings of a U.S. Air Force pilot, or the wings of any other military aviator, Dan Hampton's tale will take you back to places in your memory that are familiar, regardless of aircraft flown, and will be a part of you, forever. For those who have never had the privilege of aviation service, Lt. Col.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Pirate2240 on October 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
First of all I wanted to say that having men like Dan Hampton in the Air Force and military for the United States of America is what makes our country the greatest nation in the world! I could not believe the stories that Dan has told throughout the book about all of the missions he has been on, along with all of the other fighters in his unit and in Iraq! From the moment you read this book, you get a thrill ride that puts you in the back seat (if there was one) of the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" or Viper as the fighters call it! Thank you Dan and all of the other fighters, front line and support groups for all that you do to take it to our enemies and keep the fighting away from our homeland! You all deserve the highest honors our country has to offer and I for one am honored to call you a fellow American!

From 1986 to 2006 Lt. Col. Dan Hampton performed 151 combat missions as a Wild Weasel fighter pilot, flew over 600 combat hours around the world and has logged over 3000 flight hours while in the USAF from 1986-2006. He has 21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites. 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, 1 Purple Heart, and more medals and accommodations than I can list. He is a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School, USN Top Gun School (TOGS), and USAF Special Operations School. Dan spearheaded the 2003 invasion of Iraq, leading the first flight of fighters over the boarder and deep into Iraq and Baghdad and also has several awards for tactical innovation.

Now retired, he has time to write about all of his experiences within the USAF and all of his missions while in Iraq and other places around the world.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By James Williams on October 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I found the book to be a good read, was interesting to see the fighter pilot side of things having been a ground crew member (Crew Chief) on F-4's and FB-111's. Seems that the author has pissed off some people along the way after reading some of these reviews. Tells me that he must be doing something right, in an age where political correctness runs everything including the military. The reviews should be on the book, if you people want to review the person then find some place else to do it. The book was good and interesting, I am telling several friends to read it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was not impressed with the book or the author. The author won some impressive awards and I have no doubt he is an excellent pilot. I thank him and all the others who served during the war in Iraq. However, he is very arrogant and has a massive ego! He goes to great length to belittle non rated officers and pilots who do not fly fighters - however, he was happy to see the tanker pilots when he was low on fuel. I wonder what he thinks of female pilots, especially those who are fighter pilots? He goes in excruciating boring detail discussing his missions over Iraq. His missions as a Wild Weasel pilot were certainly important to the war effort as were all the other professions there. It took a whole team of personnel from mechanics, cooks, logicians, planners, etc, just to get him airborne. He seemed to have no appreciation for their efforts. Unfortunately, His rendition about how great it was to drink in the Officer's Club as a Captain (albeit by one day) and be intentionally disrespectful to a non rated Major was childish. I could go on. Incidentally, I served in the same unit when it was the 20th TFW. Fortunately he hadn't gone to pilot training yet. The vast majority of the pilots I knew in the 20th TFW were Professional Air Force officers and team players concerned for the success of the overall Wing mission! I was not surprised to see in his bio that he retired as a Lt. Col.
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