8.000 Hours of RAF flying has Tom Eeles logged as a pilot when is pensioned at an age of 55 years. In this book he describes his RAF career that started in 1962 and ended in 1997 after which he kept flying as a reserve officer and instructor with the Cambridge University flying school. In the back of the book there is a list published of all types he flew and held a type rating and which are also referred to in his flying stories.
Military pilots and certainly in the sixties of the last century when training and operations were not so structured as they are today, were often experiencing many funny, frightening and dramatic situations during their career. These are told by Tom Eeles with the right touch of understatement and humor and referring to his experiences with the different types he flew. Most hours he spent in the air flying the Buccaneer with the RAF and the Royal Navy on board the aircraft carrier Victorious.
The technical flight characteristics especially of the Buccaneer are explained explicit and also his deck landing techniques and that is nice reading especially for the pilots amongst us. That, despite much experience and a good preparation, things can go terribly wrong tells Tom Eeles in one of his many stories regarding a huge fly past over London to honor the 25th jubilee of Queen Elisabeth by 25 RAF planes ( bombers and fighters) of different types including the Red Arrows formation team.
Because of the fast worsening weather and the differences in speed the planes had to break up the formation over the centre of London at a low altitude and partly flying in clouds which nearly led to a catastrophe. The Vulcan flying in the back of his Buccaneer during the formation flew a mile in front of him when he cleared the clouds after the break up of the formation. A miracle that no one collided. It was the hand of God that every plane safely returned to their base and Tom Eeles swore that he would never fly again in such a large mixed formation over London. He also tells about a serious incident during an international exercise with F-16’s of the Netherlands Air Force over the north of England that was never published. One of the F-16’s was badly shot up with real ammunition by one of his colleague pilots during an encounter and was seriously damaged. However the plane landed safely but the Dutch pilot was arrested and sent home immediately.
This and many more hilarious and exciting air adventures make this biography a nice book to read describing all facets of his life in the RAF as pilot and flight instructor. His writing style is intelligible also for the non pilots amongst us and technical facts are explained clearly. With its nice looking quality cover, 147 pages of flying stories and a fair amount of black and white photos made during his life as a fast jet pilot, it is a nice book to read and to keep in your bookcase. Tom Eeles is still active in the flying scene and if you visit Duxford in the UK ( a must for everyone interested in aviation) you may run into him as he is a member of the flight safety committee over there.