Customer Reviews: Chopper: A History of America Military Helicopter Operators from WWII to the War on Terro
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on August 21, 2005
Author Bob Dorr has a passion for military aircraft, and that passion is evident in his most recent book, "Chopper." The book, as promised in its subtitle, takes the reader from the earliest relatively primitive "eggbeaters" in Burma during World War II, through Korea, Vietnam, and up to today's advanced helicopters now active in Iraq. As usual, Bob has impeccably researched his subject, not only by pursuit of the existing written word, but through extensive interviews and actual flights in some of the ships.

There are two sets of heroes in this work. First of all are the helicopters which have proved themselves invaluable on the battle field, as observation platforms, as medical evacuation workhorses, as troop transports, as gun platforms. The author places useful sidebars providing technical information about each of the helicopters he discusses. Some helicopters were truly heroic birds - keeping in the air no matter how much incoming ordinance they received. But it is the other set of heroes that make this book fascinating to the general reader. These are the human heroes, the pilots and crews of helicopters fighting in many theaters. Bob Dorr conducted seventy seven interviews with these incredible men, and accurately records their accounts of helicopter missions. All retain the actual words of the aviators. Some accounts are thoughtful, almost philosophical; accounts by more recent aviators are less so, some sounding a little like teenagers discussing their newest video game. But all demonstrate the skill and valor of men fighting in the nation's uniform. Some missions are described alternately by several actors, each from a different view point. The author helps the reader keep up with these transitions by useful "Who's Who" sidebars.

If I were to fault the book in any way, it is to note the absence of a Table of Contents. The publisher was unhelpful by deleting the Table that the author had submitted with his manuscript.

I recommend this book not only to those with specific interest in helicopters, but also to the general reader who will be interested in, and educated by, the first person accounts of the adventure, adrenalin and dangers of military aviation.
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on September 15, 2005
Mr.Dorr should be commended for the research he has done on the history of the helicopter in combat. The book is put together better than any I have read, especially on it's combat use in Vietnam. Once started reading, I couldn't put it down. Writing in the first person gives you an unbias account of what the helicopter can accomplish in combat. It is enlighting to read about man and machine. No matter how good one is, it takes both to make it reach it's true potential. Mr. Dorr's account really brings that out in his Book. I'm looking forward to his next publication.
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on November 8, 2005
I own and have read a number of books by military author and historian, Robert F. Dorr. Chopper is, by far, the best.

Starting with "eggbeaters" in Burma and continuing through the "snake" in Iraq, Dorr lets the pilots and crews tell their own stories. The stories include a father-and-son combination as well as the memories of fixed-wing aircraft pilots suddenly assigned to fly helicopters. As the pilots and crews recount their experiences, the humor of military personnel in tough situations spreads through the pages.

Dorr has amassed an amazing collection of photographs that accompany the narrative, making it easy and fascinating to follow the development of helicopters from 1945 to the present day. Chapter sidebars telling the reader who's who add to the readability.

This book is a pleasure to read. I recommend it without reservation.
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on September 3, 2005
Robert Dorr writes the true history of the amazing helicopter and the people who flew them. His painstaking interviews and the facts gathered make this a must reading for anyone who has a friend or family member who flew choppers. Mr. Dorr has made a valuable contribution to the memory of real heros and their daily struggles between keepng the ship flying and completing the mission. Thanks, Bob, for using your skills for the benefit of so many.
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on December 28, 2005
Dorr's "Chopper" belongs on the shelf of everyone interested in military aviation history and the men who were part of it. Dorr interviewed more than 75 pilots and crewmen and these individuals come to life as their remarkable stories are told in this very readable book.

"Chopper" is laid out chronologically. It starts behind enemy lines in Burma in 1944, when a young American pilot named Harman and a mechanic named Phelan flew a Sikorsky "R-4" helicopter on what was apparently the first ever U.S. military helicopter rescue. From here on out, the role played by "whirlybirds" in almost every major U.S. military operation is examined, including: air rescue missions during the Korean War, troop airlift operations in Vietnam, heliborne assaults in Afghanistan and helicopter attacks in Iraq.

I liked "Chopper" because it lets each pilot, mechanic, and crewman tell his story in his own words, and this makes for a readable, entertaining, and often exciting journey through history. All the services get their due as well---Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine helicopter pilots and aircrew are all part of Dorr's narrative.

From what I can tell, "Chopper" also is a true "first" in the history of book publishing: the first book to compile first-person accounts of helicopter pilots and crews who flew military rescue and combat missions; the first book to tell the comprehensive story of military helicopter operations from World War II to the current war on terror; and the first book to combine these personal histories with technical data on each helicopter flown or crewed.

General readers, amateur historians, and professional researches will find this book well worth the money.
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on October 3, 2005
With "Chopper," Robert F. Dorr has set down first-rate oral histories of helicopter crewmen and blended them seamlessly with the larger story of this indispensable machine. Mr. Dorr's book was a revelation to me, a former fixed-wing jet pilot in the Air Force, and brought to life a rich vein of history I scarcely knew existed. Read the words of these heroes, and thank God we have citizen-soldiers in America who strap in and lift into danger in our defense. Great flying and combat experiences, simply told.
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on September 19, 2005
I'm a helicopter buff. If you like true stories this book is for you.
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on July 5, 2006
Although this book reflects considerable research there are glaring flaws in that research. It is confusing at times and poorly written, because it is full of typographical errors and conflicting and confusing data. I am intimately familiar with two of the stories related in this book and one of them is fairly accurate while the other one has many inaccuracies. I served two tours in SEA in Rescue helicopters and I know a thing or two about the subject matter. It could have been an excellent book if the author had hired a proof reader and considered finding more corroboration for some of the material. Otherwise, it is a great summary of the important role of helicopters in military aviation.
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on February 13, 2006
I've known Bob Dorr as a friend for about a decade or more. He and I both share a passion for aviation and aviation photography. Bob, however, goes beyond passion when he writes books. His unique ability is to write books that puts readers into the cockpit of helicopters or other aircraft. You feel exactly what other crews have felt while flying missions. Bob's amazing knowledge of aircraft and history and his dogged research makes for truely unique books.

I enjoy Bob's books and encourage others to try them out.
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on March 25, 2008
This book is wonderful.
I did not know that the Germans were the first to use helicopters in combat in WW2 and not the Americans!
Now I know this as a fact!
And it is amazing that they flew public demonstrations of helicopters even before 1938, setting speed and altitude records! What amazing craft such as the Fl-185, FW-61, Fa-223, FL-265, FL-282 all flying years before Sikorsky!
And we here in America always assume when someone says "the first american to do something" it means the first person in the world to do something.

How amazing to find out that the Germans had operational combat choppers performing air-sea-rescues and submarine spotting in the Baltic before Sikorsky's craft had ever left the ground .
We in America are always so eager to claim we were the first at everything when after a little investigation it is so easy to find out that our common perceptions of History are mostly wrong.

How wonderful that this book clears up those kinds of misconceptions and sets the record straight, showing that the Burma rescue of 1944 came years after German helicopter rescues at sea. Wonderful to discover that air mobile operations and combat troop transport and transport of artillery and ammunition was carried out from huge twin rotor Focke Achgellis 223 choppers. They even airlifted whole airframes of downed fighter craft and heli airlifted a broken down Fieseler Storch observation plane back to base, something we couldn't do untill post war. They even airlifted light trucks by helicopter.
We always assume we were the first but we should know better.

But Hang on, are all these facts actually mentioned in this book at all, or am I getting confused with Steve Coates' book "Helicopter of the Third Reich"? Perhaps here again an American book about the American military is oblivious to the rest of the world and the priority of foreign achievements. If it didn't happen in America it didn't happen right? Read this book with awareness of those sorts of biases.
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