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Stealth Fighter: A Year in the Life of an F-117 Pilot Hardcover – April 16, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"For a personal account of flying the F-117, you'll need O'Connor's book." - Air & Space Smithsonian

From the Inside Flap

Stealth fighter. Nighthawk. The Black Jet. Each name for the F-117 is ominous and the feeling is intensified by its strange futuristic appearance, all flat surfaces and sharp edges. Those odd angles scatter radar waves to effectively render the aircraft undetectable. All other design considerations came second to radar invisibility, even aerodynamics. As a result, the F-117 is wildly unstable; four separate computer systems continuously monitor and adjust its flight path to keep it from tumbling out of control. What fighter pilot wouldn’t want to fly such a machine into a war zone?
 
Lt. Col. William B. O’Connor, USAF (ret.), began his F-117 training in May 1998 and Stealth Fighter focuses on the following year of his life as he completes his training and enters combat when continuing turmoil in the former republics of Yugoslavia leads to a NATO bombing campaign. Some thirty-seven-thousand sorties were flown over Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War with only two jet losses. But a pilot was two and a half times more likely to have been shot at with surface-to-air missiles during Kosovo than pilots over Iraq in Desert Storm.
 
O’Connor, a fighter pilot who had often felt left out of the fight earlier in his career, earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the Kosovo War. The citation reads, in part, “On [14 April 1999], Colonel O’Connor executed one of several coordinated strike missions deep into the heart of the Serbian integrated air defense system. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Colonel O’Connor prosecuted his attack and braved a barrage of surface-to-air missile launches and anti-aircraft artillery fire . . . resulting in the precision-guided weapon destroying the target. Colonel O'Connor's flawless aerial skill and coolness under pressure while attacking a key Serbian military facility directly contributed to the historic success of the Operation Allied Force air campaign.”
 
Stealth Fighter is an engaging look into the culture of those who fly high-tech fighters and bombers and an exciting personal account of the pinnacle of one pilot’s career in the cockpit.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (April 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760341354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760341353
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
First off, I have to thank the author for his service to the cause of peace and freedom. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned quite a lot about the marvelous F-117 stealth fighter, its operational history, its heritage and its dedicated crews (pilots, maintainers). This is a very easy read for aviation laymen like myself. The author even provides a bit of political commentary regarding the US/NATO involvement in 'Ops Allied Force' in 1999 over Kosovo which was refreshing, unexpected and candid. I liked that a lot. The technical stuff are also explained in a very interesting manner by which any one could understand the characteristics of this magnificent airplane and missions it was capable of doing. Having said that, I have one critical thing to say about the book or how parts of it were written. And it is that the book at times read like a log book and not a memoir. It seemed the author had pulled his log book or travel journal from his drawer and had decided to merely copy his entries on the pages of this books with little or no editing. Example: "At 7am I went to sleep and woke up at 5pm and went to shower or eat... then went to briefing room to..." (Not exactly these words but you get the point). It does not damage the book but it does provide for a few very boring pages that could easily be skipped or left out of the book. All in all, this is a decent read for most aviation enthusiast as, like I said, the author provides more than just combat stories. I really enjoyed reading his views about the 1999 Balkans conflict, his view of President Clinton and Gen. Clark. I am glad he did and they are rare for military servicemen (retired or active) to say such things about their higher ups. 4/5
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by others but I really found that I was disappointed in the "jock fighter" role the author seemed to play. In my many four decade experience with the USAF I was disappointed by all the macho drinking that the author described in detail. That isn't the AF I have been associated with. Lots of waiting around for missions...factual but true. Training is the routine...actual missions are rare and for most pilots a combination of terror and thrill. Needed more discriptions of that combination of feelings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm not much of a reader, but this book had my attention the whole time. The author has a very "every-man" writing style that is easy to follow and fun to read. He has a wit and humor that had me chuckling to myself from time to time. He does a tremendous job of recording what it's like to be not only an F-117 pilot, but also a member of the Air Force's flying community. He caught both the excitement of real operations as well as the mundane aspects of exercises and office politics.

He also gave me a new perspective on the war with the Serbs that I had not heard before. This was very eye opening and is an excellent read for anyone striving for a top ranking position in the US military.

I fully enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone in the Air Force or anyone wanting to join the Air Force.

EDIT 1: During some of my military training I actually got to meet one of the guys mentioned in the book: Speedy. He was a civilian and the only reason I bothered to ask if he ever flew F-117s was because he was wearing a "Black Sheep" lanyard. Having the book fresh in my head, I asked him about it. He was very quick to admit to having flown them and having known Lt Col O'Connor, the author of the book.

Oh, and he had a lengthy defense about "never missing his target" despite blowing up a cemetery. He claimed he hit his target, but the computer was programmed wrong. We all had a good laugh. Most notably he told us quite a few stories that he said were deemed a bit too saucy for the book.

All-in-all, these guys truly are larger than life and meeting one of them only made the book that much more real and enjoyable. Again, I highly recommend this book. It's amazing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent account of the author's experiences flying the F117. There are very few books on this topic from a pilot's perspective... in fact, perhaps this is the only one? I appreciated that no doubt there were things not in the book which may have been 'no-go' areas for its author in order to have it published.

His additional comments regarding how the war - excuse me, 'strikes' - were prosecuted were acutely interesting and, most understandably, depressing. It's said that many of the officers who were junior during Viet Nam felt that if they remained in the service and the future brought another conflict, they would by such time likely be in positions of authority and would never allow the ridiculous shenanigans perpetrated by civilian leaders to occur again. This is so and actions such as 'Shock & Awe' but one example. If you're going to fight... fight... don't nibble. Unfortunately, these lessons were forgotten or ignored when it came to Serbia.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Outstanding read! Brings home the vagaries of peace time combat operations, especially when the brass jumps in and tries to drive the bus. Highly reminiscent of Vietnam and what was done over there by McNamara. O'Conner puts you in the seat with him for the good and the bad, and the ugly! This is one of those books that everyone who wants to be a fighter pilot or a combat pilot should read. It's not a sugarcoated version of the USAF, it's the reality of day to day operations, albeit with the F-117 and all that entailed.

Highly recommended!
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