This 26 chapter counting book describes the experiences of a young aviator, who wants to make his carrier in the large aviation. His father owns a charter company and FBO for planes which makes that because of this he could already obtain his aviation license in a cheap way.
After having gained his license he starts with ferry flights, using light planes and makes in this way a considerable amount of hours. But also in that time it was not so easy to find a job in the large aviation and hence he is looking for possibilities to quickly build up more hours. Through a relation of his father he comes into contact with Air America, a company that is run by the CIA.
Air America was active in North and South Vietnam in the beginning of the 70’s, with as goal to avoid political restrictions, which the American Government had opposed upon the army. Through this it was possible to legally transport goods and people in Vietnam for the army and from and to surrounding countries. The Americans called it ‘covert-actions’. This meant amongst others that, flights from and to Cambodia and also Vietnam were run by non-military personal and pilots, who flew on different types of transport planes. Our main character Peter (PT) tells to some great length how he first worked as an unpaid instructor at USAF and later, via detours could start by Air America as aviator on the Pilatus Porter PC-6.
The greater part of the book is about his adventures in Vietnam and it is almost unbelievable under which circumstances he had to deliver goods and people. Later he became a co-pilot on the C-130, which was used to throw off napalm. In the end, PT crashed 3 times after being hit by enemy fire and survived psychological and physical wounded his Vietnam adventure. Interesting is how the reward was arranged. On every planed flight, the aviators could bid and the lowest bidder of course got the flight assigned, after which the aviator dropped to the bottom of the assignment list.
As a red thread through the book is his marriage with Jane, who actually has no idea of what he does in South-East Asia, but in the end does find out. After his Vietnam adventure PT is send by his father to the Caribbean to work there as a senior aviator and representative of the company of his father. They flew with a DC-6B, a DC-3 and a couple of twins for the transport of passengers between the Leeward Islands, an adventure in itself. All safety precautions were neglected. PT ended up in an organised mess. Passengers were even transported standing, by lack of seating places.
The second part of the book is about his adventures with this charter company. Bit by bit he manages to correct the chaos and turns it into a reasonable company. Out of the blue the Minister of Transport decides to nationalise the airline, after which PT and his father decide to hijack the DC-6 and the DC-3 and illegally fly over to Miami, a beautiful story on its own.
Another part of the book tells about a revenge action, which PT organizes to accomplish the death of colleague aviator from his Vietnam period. This man proved to be guilty of rape and killing a couple of young Vietnamese girls, but could not be pursued. PT, in the end, achieves justice.
The book reads as an exciting boy book. His adventures in the air are original and written with knowledge of aviation. The story is based on true events of an Air America aviator, drawn up by Michael Yeager who himself is an old Vietnam veteran. It is a very recommendable book, with original events, good reading material and exciting. For when you cannot sleep, because PT himself is a careless person and that helps by relaxing!