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From Eggbeaters to Choppers
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.